Catchers That Just Missed The Top-50 List
Note: The players below are in alphabetical - and not rank - order.
Luke Montz: Montz signed with the A's as a minor league free agent before the 2012 season and that proved to be a wise decision for the veteran backstop. With the A's, Montz received his first opportunity at the major league level since 2010, collecting 28 at-bats in 13 big league games. A back injury prevented Montz from reaching the major leagues during the second half of the season, but the A's liked him enough to re-sign him to another minor league deal for 2014.
Montz is only average defensively, but he brings plus power to the catching position. He will provide the A's depth at the Triple-A level in 2014 and could be called upon if the A's need a catcher or a powerful right-handed bench bat at any point during the season.
Ryan Ortiz: Ortiz's professional career was on a fast-track before he hit a major speed bump at the Double-A level. The right-handed hitting catcher batted .340 for High-A Stockton in 2011, but he slumped to .237 with Double-A Midland during the second half of that season. He struggled with the bat again with Midland in 2012, finishing up that season back in High-A. In 2013, Ortiz split his season between Stockton and Triple-A Sacramento. Ortiz posted mediocre numbers with the Ports, but he hit well with Sacramento (.270/.336/.426 in 111 at-bats).
A shoulder injury limited Ortiz's throwing early in his professional career, but he has improved his defense over the past two seasons. The A's are top-heavy at the catcher position at the moment, but if Ortiz can produce at the plate like he did with Sacramento last season and continue to improve defensively, he'll be a viable option for the A's should they suffer a spate of injuries to their major-league catching corps.
Ortiz took advantage of his time with Triple-A Sacramento.
Andy Paz: The 20-year-old Paz made his US debut in 2013 after spending the past two seasons playing in the Dominican Summer League. The native of Cuba and French national hit only .228 in the Arizona Rookie League, but he showed a strong understanding of the strike-zone at the plate and promise defensively. He also connected on his first two homeruns as a professional.
Paz hit better than .300 in each of his two DSL seasons. He will be 21 throughout the 2014 season.
Phil Pohl: A 28th-round pick in 2012, Pohl was somewhat of an afterthought at the beginning of the season. Slated to spend much of the first half at extended spring training, Pohl instead parlayed an opportunity created by injuries at the High-A level into a full year playing full-season baseball. Pohl appeared in three games with the Beloit Snappers to begin the year, but roster changes during the first week of the season sent Pohl back to Phoenix and extended spring training.
In May, Pohl was assigned to High-A Stockton when Ryan Ortiz was sent up to Sacramento. Pohl swung the bat well at the outset of his playing time with Stockton and he made it difficult for the A's to send him back to extended spring training. In fact, he would remain with the Ports for the rest of the season, appearing in 54 games for Stockton. He showed some pop in his bat, hitting nine homeruns in 194 at-bats. Pohl also handled the pitching staff well when he was behind the plate. He will be 23 at the start of the season.
Nick Rickles: When Rickles was selected in the 14th-round in 2011, he was considered a better hitter than he was a catcher. However, since turning pro, Rickles has developed into one of the A's better defensive minor league catchers, but he has struggled at the plate over the past two seasons. Rickles spent the 2012 season with Low-A Burlington and he hit only .220 with a 584 OPS in 95 games. This season, he spent the bulk of the year in the Midwest League again. He struggled at the plate during the first half of the season, but he was red-hot for much of the second half until a concussion slowed him down over the final few weeks of the season. He finished with a .258/.289/.389 line in 81 games with Beloit.
Defensively, Rickles was outstanding. He threw out nearly 44% of attempted base-stealers and blocked balls well behind the plate. Rickles will need to improve his hitting to reach the big leagues, but his glove and arm make him a player worth keeping an eye on.
Beau Taylor: Taylor was a fifth-round pick in 2011 and he moved quickly through the A's system during his first year-and-a-half as a pro. Taylor hit .293 with Low-A Burlington in 2011 and then he batted .328 with High-A Stockton during the first half of 2012. That earned him a promotion to Double-A Midland for the final two months of the 2012 season. He slumped at the plate during his first stint with Midland, but big things were expected of Taylor in 2013. Unfortunately, Taylor never got on-track offensively with Midland in 2013. In 76 games, he hit .191/.282/.266.
Taylor showed too much promise his first year-and-a-half as a pro to give up on him after one poor season. However, he'll need to get back to being the hitter he was in 2011-12 to move beyond Double-A.