Welcome to "Chatter from the Pressbox", the website dedicated to the Pressbox of the Frisco RoughRiders, the Double-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers.

Today's Matchups Around the Ranger's System

Today's (5/20) Match-Ups Around the Ranger's System

Round Rock: Martin Perez (3-3 5.27) vs. Fresno Grizzlies: Andrew Kown (3-1 2.61) @ 1:00 PM CT

Myrtle Beach: Kyle Hendricks (1-4 2.91) @ Wilmington Blue Rocks: Sugar Ray Marimon (3-0 2.65) @ 12:30 PM CT

Hickory : Santo Perez (2-2 6.19) @ Asheville Tourists: Daniel Winkler (4-2 6.06) @ 1:05 PM CT

Monday, November 28, 2011

Texas League Best of the Best: Catcher

For the next couple of weeks, I am going to do an article series that rates how the 2011 Texas League teams compared to each other at each position. To begin the series, I will begin with the captain of the field, the catcher position.

Team Rankings: Offense

1. Northwest Arkansas Naturals: .291/.353/.460/.813 48 Extra Base Hits, 83 RBI, 51 R, 38 BB-78 K

The best team in the Texas League North got a big boost at the catcher spot as the team's catchers were the best in the league by quite a wide margin. Salvador Perez led the Natural's catchers with 300 plate appearance as the 21 year old started in Northwest Arkansas at the beginning of 2011 and finished up in Kansas City. In AA, Perez batted .289 with 14 doubles and 9 homeruns in 280 at bats and had a .769 OPS. He batted .333 over 12 games with the Omaha Storm Chasers and hit .333 with 3 homeruns over 158 plate appearances for the Royals. Ben Theriot only had 130 plate appearances for the Naturals, but he batted .322 and had 15 extra base hits, including 5 homeruns. As a catcher, Theriot had a .940 OPS, the best among the Natural's catchers.

2. Tulsa Drillers: .250/.313/.449/.762 49 Extra Base Hits, 62 RBI, 73 R, 43 BB-121 K

The Tulsa Drillers used the fewest catchers among the Texas League teams this season, but the Drillers also got the most homeruns from their catchers, and it wasn't even close. Top prospect Wilin Rosario is a big reason why the Drillers had so many homeruns as the 22 year old catcher followed up his 19 homerun campaign for Tulsa in 2010 with 21 homeruns in 2011. Offensively, he wasn't as sharp in 2011 as 2010, but Rosario was still by far the most powerful catcher in the league. Unfortunatley for Rosario though, the power didn't translate into run production as he drove in just 48 runs. This is due to 16 of his 21 homeruns coming with the bases empty. Rosario also struggled with RISP as he hit just .173 with men in scoring position and just .236 with runners on. Lars Davis was the other catcher that Tulsa used and what Rosario lacked in patience, Davis made up for as the backup catcher hit .255 with a .380 on base percentage and .783 OPS overall. Davis walked 25 times to 37 strikeouts. Over 336 plate appearances in Tulsa the last 2 seasons, Davis has combined for a .393 on base percentage.

3. Springfield Cardinals: .255/.309/.397/.706 41 Extra Base Hits, 71 RBI, 71 R, 39 BB-95 K

The St. Louis Cardinals affiliate used 5 different catchers during the 2011 season with Audry Perez topping the team in plate appearances at the catchers spot with 215. Perez batted .262 with a low .279 OBP, but slugged .432 as he had 21 extra base hits (7 homeruns) in those 215 plate appearances. His .711 OPS was solid, but not anywhere near the team's best offensive catcher, Charles Cutler, who used 175 plate appearances at the position to garner a .327/.389/.478/.867 batting line. Cutler had 12 extra base hits, drove in 22 runs, and scored 29 as well. The 25 year old Cutler holds a career batting line of .305/.385/.412/.797 in the minor leagues. He has had productive periods at every level of the minor leagues. Still, the 22 year old Perez is considered the better prospect of the two, and his minor league line of .289/.319/.473/.792 has something to do with that. Nick Derba, Travis Tartamella, and Steven Hill also saw time at catcher for Springfield and combined for 179 plate appearances between the three of them. Hill's bat has gotten him to the majors, but his defense is a reason he saw more time away from catcher than at catcher.

4. Frisco RoughRiders: .251/.297/.369/.667 36 Extra Base Hits, 62 RBI, 65 R, 29 BB-71 K

Frisco fans watched two different catchers carry most of the weight behind the plate in the 2011 season and I'm not sure that I can put more emphasis on "different". One catcher, Jose Felix, is a 23 year old catcher who's defense is the reason that he's gotten to AA, while the other, Elio Sarmiento, is a 25 year old catcher who's bat the last three years or so has had some success and his defense is not a strong suit. Sarmiento's bat carried the Rider's catchers as the switch hitter batted .278 with 20 extra base hits in 225 plate appearances. Jose Felix hit just .220 with a .535 OPS for the season, and also did seem to take a step back defensively. Both players drove in 27 runs, despite Felix getting 44 more plate appearances. Former major league catcher Robbie Diaz also spent time with Frisco as he rode the shuttle between Frisco and Round Rock in 2011. Diaz batted .306 and had 3 homeruns (2 in one game) in 59 plate appearances.

5. San Antonio Missions: .249/.304/.361/.665 38 Extra Base Hits, 61 RBI, 62 R, 35 BB-119 K

While he didn't make the best impression in Frisco, Ali Solis did produce pretty solidly for the season. Solis batted .267 with a .402 slugging percentage (21 extra base hits in 269 plate appearances) for the league champion San Antonio Missions. The Missions led the league with 8 different catchers used, including 2 former major league catchers, one on rehab (Nick Hundley). Kyle Phillips hit .316 in 81 plate appearances with the Missions. He spent most of three months with the big league club in 2011. While the Missions weren't great at the catcher spot, this might be the last time we see the team this low on the list on offense as San Antonio led the league in runs with 801 (5.72 runs per game).

6. Arkansas Travelers: .246/.301/.332/.633 24 Extra Base Hits, 53 RBI, 45 R, 34 BB-64 K

The Arkansas Travelers used 5 catchers in 2011 and the production from most on offense was not very good. Orlando Mercado did have 13 extra base hits (4 homeruns) and drove in 25 runs, but he also only had 188 plate appearances. His .279 average and .726 OPS were by far the best on the team. Alberto Rosario led the team with 320 plate appearances and it's clear his defense was the reason he played so much, because his .577 OPS was not a reason. Carlos Ramirez, Ikku Sumi, and Jeff Bandy were the other three catchers used and combined for 17 plate appearances.

7. Midland Rockhounds: .212/.308/.297/.605 23 Extra Base Hits, 52 RBI, 59 R, 59 BB-131 K

The only team in the league to have the catchers spot have a higher on base percentage than slugging percentage, the Rockhounds also were the only team in the league to get more than 50 walks from their catchers. Of course it didn't help a lot, because the Rockhounds still got bad production from their catchers as they were the only team in the league (albeit only 8 teams are in the league) to not have a player with a .700+ OPS in 100 or more plate appearances from the catchers spot. Petey Paramore led the Rockhounds with 179 plate appearances as a catcher, while Ryan Ortiz added 173 and Texas League veteran Mitch Canham had 138. Ortiz hit .250 with a .370 on base percentage, but had just a .318 slugging percentage. He had 6 extra base hits in 173 plate appearances. Paramore also hit just .192, but got on base at a .307 clip. His .585 OPS, however, was not good. Canham's .599 was not much better, while Yusuf Carter had a .460 OPS in 68 plate appearances, and Juan Nunez added 1 more plate appearance to give the Rockhounds 559 plate appearances from 5 catchers.

8. Corpus Christi Hooks: .185/.260/.261/.521 21 Extra Base Hits, 50 RBI, 39 R, 48 BB-116 K

It's interesting how the two worst Texas League teams at the catchers spot also were 1-2 in walks, but that's how it works sometimes. The Hooks spent the early part of the season with Federico Hernandez as their starting catcher and the process did not go well. Hernandez batted just .139 with a .426 OPS in 164 plate appearances, including 7 extra base hits. Former Frisco RoughRider Emerson Frostad was second on the Hooks with 148 plate appearances as a catcher. "Frosty" hit .203 with a .311 OBP, but slugged just .234. He had just 4 extra base hits and 6 RBI as a catcher, although he walked 20 times to 25 strikeouts. Chris Wallace was the Hook's best option offensively in 2011 as the 23 year old hit .244 with a .739 OPS in 136 plate appearances. Wallace, taken in the 16th round out of the University of Houston, skipped high-A to reach Corpus Christi. He began in A ball and hit .285 with 33 extra base hits in 275 plate appearances, to bring him to a .902 OPS there. Brian Esposito and Jonathon Fixler combined for 111 plate appearances, 3 extra base hits, and 5 RBI for the Hooks.

Team Rankings: Defense

1. Frisco RoughRiders: 1,074 Putouts, 128 Assists, 14 Double Plays, 7 Passed Balls, 32.3% Thrown Out%, 6 Pickoffs

The Frisco RoughRiders catchers displayed the best defense among the 8 teams in the Texas League in the 2011 season as the Riders got solid defense from both catchers in the 2011 season. They had the 3rd best thrown out %, 2nd most putouts, double plays, and pickoffs, while having the most assists and least amount of passed balls. They were the only team in the league with less than 10 passed balls. Jose Felix had just 2 passed balls in 70 games and threw out 35.6% of the potential basestealers. He also added a pickoff on May 9th. Elio Sarmiento also provided solid protection, although he had 5 passed balls in 57 games. Sarmiento also picked off 5 players throughout the season and threw out 29.4% of potential basestealers. Frisco catchers also had the least amount of stolen base attempts on them of any team in the league, which speaks to respect.

2. Northwest Arkansas Naturals: 982 Putouts, 115 Assists, 12 Double Plays, 12 Passed Balls, 35.6% Thrown Out %, 5 Pickoffs

In the first of what is really five closely contested teams over the next five slots, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals had the best all-around catchers. The Naturals had the best thrown out % and were top 4 in every other important catchers statistic. Their starting catcher, Salvador Perez, was by far the best catcher in the Texas League in terms of shutting down a running game as the catcher threw out 43 of the 90 would be basestealers. His 47.7% thrown out% was the best in the league of those with at least 100 plate appearances. Perez also was among the leaders in pickoffs as the team had 5 total with 4 coming from Perez. With 1 in AAA and 3 in the majors, Perez finished the season with 8 pickoffs. With 115 team assists from the catchers spot, the Naturals were also 3rd in the Texas League behind Frisco and Tulsa.

3. Arkansas Travelers: 940 Putouts, 109 Assists, 10 Double Plays, 10 Passed Balls, 30% Thrown Out%, 10 Pickoffs

The other team from Arkansas, the Arkansas Travelers had five catchers combine to give them the 3rd best defensive catchers in the league. Alberto Rosario, who saw the most time on the roster, displayed very good defense behind the plate and led the league in pickoffs with 7. The Travelers as a whole led the league in pickoffs, were 2nd in passed balls allowed, and committed the second least amount of errors (11).

4. Springfield Cardinals: 1,002 Putouts, 94 Assists, 16 Double Plays, 11 Passed Balls, 31.6% Thrown Out%, 2 Pickoffs

The Springfield Cardinals didn't have one particular starter catch a lot more than any other and due to that they might have been better off. The team finished consistently solid all-around, including a league leading 16 double plays and the 4th best thrown out% with 31.6%. Among the two with the most times behind the plate, Charles Cutler was a better defender than Audry Perez. Nick Derba also provided good defense behind the plate, which is no surprise coming from a player who was listed as the "best defensive catcher" in the Cardinal's system in the 2009 Baseball America Prospect Handbook.

5. Tulsa Drillers: 931 Putouts, 116 Assists, 10 Double Plays, 21 Passed Balls, 33.3% Thrown Out%, 1 Pickoff

The Tulsa Driller's defensive marvels in 2011 were inconsistent as the team was 2nd in assists and thrown out% and had the 2nd least amount of errors, but they also had the 2nd highest total of passed balls and the least amount of pickoffs and putouts. But if you're going to look in directions for who to blame the blame would be more likely to go with Lars Davis than top prospect Wilin Rosario. Armed with a strong arm, Rosario threw out 37.8% of potential basestealers, which was actually his lowest % since 23 games in rookie ball in 2007. Rosario did have 13 passed balls, however, but also had 652 putouts and a league best 82 assists.

6. San Antonio Missions: 1,085 Putouts, 111 Assists, 9 Double Plays, 13 Passed Balls, 29.7% Thrown Out%, 4 Pickoffs

Armed with the 8 catcher brigade, the San Antonio Missions defense from the catcher position was not among the best in the league, although they led the league in putouts. The Mission's 9 double plays were the 2nd lowest total, the thrown out % of 29.7% was the 3rd lowest total, and the 13 passed balls was right in the middle. The Missions catchers also committed tied for the 2nd most errors with 16 on the season. Of those 16, 12 came from Ali Solis, who spent 72 games behind the plate.

7. Corpus Christi Hooks: 1,047 Putouts, 76 Assists, 10 Double Plays, 15 Passed Balls, 17.9% Thrown Out%, 3 Pickoffs

In a season when most went wrong for the Corpus Christi Hooks, the team couldn't get hitting or fielding from an important spot on the field in the captain of the defense. Only the Rockhounds threw out less potential basestealers. Only San Antonio had less double plays. Only Midland and Tulsa had more passed balls than the Hooks. No team had less assists from their catchers than the Hook's 76. Corpus Christi had 4 catchers appear in at least 29 games at catcher and of those 4, only Federico Hernandez threw out more than 20% of the potential basestealers and his was 26%. He also led the team with 7 passed balls which was 1 short of the amount for the rest of the catchers.

8. Midland Rockhounds: 1,006 Putouts, 77 Assists, 5 Double Plays, 27 Passed Balls, 17% Thrown Out%, 2 Pickoffs

No group of catchers was worse in the Texas League than the Midland Rockhounds in 2011. Three different catchers allowed more than 40 steals as the team gave up a league high 166 stolen bases for the season. The team also had the 2nd least amount of assists, the least amount of double plays, the most passed balls, and the most amount of errors with 21. Ryan Ortiz, in particular, was bad as he led the team in errors (9), passed balls (12), and lowest thrown out % (13.5%). Allen, Texas native Petey Paramore gave up 61 stolen bases in 45 games behind the plate. All four of the catchers that caught more than a game, gave up more stolen bases than games played.

- By Michael Damman

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