Organizational Rankings: Catchers
1.) This is a subjective ranking -- please feel free to dispute where I've ranked players, but keep in mind that nothing happening in the 2007 season went into the decision on where to rank a player.
2.) Originally, these posts had my predictions on where a player would start off the 2007 season. The team in purple immediately following a player's name is where that player is right now, and nothing else will appear if that was where I predicted that player would end up. If I was wrong, I'll list my predicted destination in brackets and blue text following the team that player is actually playing with.
3.) Each player is listed in only one of these posts. The determination of where to place a player was made based on where that player got the most playing time in 2006, and I won't be moving players around during the season.
4.) Players who are no longer with the team will remain on the list, but their entry will be in red text and the method by which that player left the team (released, traded, etc.) will be listed in place of a team assignment.
5.) Players added to the organization during the season will be placed at the bottom of the ranking, and will receive a rank of "NR," for "Not Ranked." If they are still with the team when the 2008 season rolls around, they'll be ranked along with everyone else.
Rank - Name - Likely 2007 Destination
#1 - Joe Mauer (40-Man) - Minnesota Twins
This post is primarily designed to familiarize people with the minor league system, so there isn't a lot of reason for me to babble on about Mauer. He very well may already be the best catcher in Major League Baseball, so of course he's at the top of the Twins organizational rankings. Began season with Minnesota
#2 - Mike Redmond (40-Man) - Minnesota Twins
Nothing says that the Major League backup needs to be in the #2 position on the organizational rankings, but Redmond is a productive backup catcher, and there aren't a lot of phenoms within the system to battle him for this position. Began season with Minnesota
#3 - Chris Heintz - RELEASED (11/17/07)
Heintz is no spring chicken - he's 32 already, and isn't getting any younger. But Heintz easily gets the #3 ranking on this list because he's a proven AAA caliber catcher, and would almost certainly be called up if the Twins had a short-term injury to Mauer or Redmond. Heintz has hit .286 and .304 in his last two seasons with Rochester (OPS of 692 and 787 respectively), so there isn't any question that he can hit AAA pitching. Whether he'll ever break into the league (probably as a backup) is unknown, but he's a decent enough insurance policy for the Twins. Began the season with Minnesota; Optioned to AAA Rochester 4/12/07; Recalled to Minnesota 5/8/07; Optioned to AAA Rochester 6/28/07
#4 - Caleb Moore - Ft. Myers Miracle
Moore hasn't been in the orgnization for that long - he was drafted in the 4th round of the 2005 entry draft - but the 24 year old has quickly established himself as a top prospect in the system. He broke into the organization by hitting .309 with Elizabethton in the second half of 2005, earning a promotion to Beloit for the 2006 season. While there, he hit .286 with a 736 OPS before being promoted to Ft. Myers, where he flagged a bit (.220, 606). Nevertheless, Moore has shown that he has nothing left to prove in the lower levels of the system, and should start the season with the Miracle. I expect him to adjust successfully to the pitching at the High-A level, and wouldn't be in the least surprised to see him in New Britain by the end of the season. Began the season with Ft. Myers
#5 - Jeff Christy - Ft. Myers Miracle [Beloit]
Christy is another fairly new addition to the Twins, having been selected in the 6th round of last year's entry draft, coming out of the University of Nebraska where exhibited some power and a decent bat. Christy started his professional career with Elizabethton, hitting .259 with a 721 OPS in 24 Games. He spent a brief amount of time with Ft. Myers (6 games) and New Britain (2 games), but he had just one hit in 22 at-bats at those two levels combined. As a result, I expect him to start off 2007 in Beloit. Began the season with Ft. Myers; promoted to New Britain 6/01/07; demoted to Ft. Myers 6/30/07
#6 - Wilson Ramos - Beloit Snappers [Eliz]
Ramos has just one year of professional experience, hitting .286 (774 OPS) with 3 HR's and 26 RBI's in 46 Games (154 AB's) with the GCL Twins last year. Those numbers should easily be good enough to earn him a spot with the E-Twins this season. It's possible, but unlikely, that he could skip over Elizabethton and start the season in Beloit, but with his limited experience, I expect the Twins would like to see him spend another season with a short-season team before moving him onto a full-season squad. Added to Beloit roster from Extended Spring Training 6/02/07
#7 - Gregory Yersich - Elizabethton Twins [Beloit]
The 20-year-old Yersich was drafted in the 7th round of the 2005 entry draft (right out of high school). He's spent his first two seasons with the GCL Twins and the E-Twins, putting up relatively weak offensive numbers. However, I'm certain the Twins are more concerned with developing his defense at this point, hoping that the offense will come later. I suspect that he'll get a promotion to Beloit this season, because it doesn't seem useful to keep him in Elizabethton for another year. This is probably an important year for Yersich, as he adjusts to a full season schedule and also will probably be expected to make some strides offensively throughout his third professional season. Began season with Beloit; demoted to Elizabethton 6/20/07
#8 - Kyle Geiger - New Britain Rock Cats
Geiger always has been something of a project - he was a 42nd round draft pick back in 2002, after all. The 24-year-old has slogged his way through Elizabethton, Quad Cities (the Low-A team before Beloit), Ft. Myers, and New Britain in his 4 seasons (he didn't play in 2002). He had one very solid half-season in 2004 for Quad Cities (hitting .291 with a 735 OPS), but can more commonly be found in the mid-.200's. Geiger does seem to be capable of adjusting to improved league play - he hit .139 when promoted to Quad Cities at the end of 2003, then jumped to .291 in 2004; then, after being promoted to Ft. Myers, he hit just .195 at the end of 2004 before posting a .257 average in 2005. Last season, he started off by hitting .248 with Ft. Myers before being promoted to New Britain and hitting just .137. Based on his past experiences, I would guess that he'll once again adjust to his new league in 2006, probably hitting around .250 while continuing to develop defensively. Began season with New Britain
#9 - Rodolfo Palacios - Elizabethton Twins
Palacios is a 21-year-old Venezuelan who was originally signed by the Twins all the way back in 2002. He got his first action in 2005, playing in 2 games for the GCL Twins; he stayed there in 2006 and put up decent numbers (.279 BA, 694 OPS) in 37 Games. As a result, I would expect him to find himself in Elizabethton this season. Began season with Elizabethton
#10 - Korey Feiner - New Britain Rock Cats [Ft. Myers]
Feiner went undrafted out of UW-Oshkosh, and the Twins signed him in the summer of 2004. He was assigned to the GCL squad, where he hit just .170 in 22 games and nevertheless earned a promotion to Beloit (bypassing Elizabethton) for 2005. He hit .188 at that level in 63 games for the Snappers, and was promoted to Ft. Myers for 2006. His batting average continued to climb, but at .219 in 81 games was still quite low. Regardless of how good his defense is, I doubt that he'll get another promotion at the start of 2007 - it seems to make more sense to keep him in Ft. Myers to see how he performs. Began season with New Britain; promoted to Rochester 6/01/07; demoted to New Britain 6/30/07
#11 - Gilbert Buenrostro - RELEASED (c. 1/11/08)
Buenrostro was drafted in the 20th round of last year's entry draft, and the then 20-year-old put up some solid numbers (.281 BA, 785 OPS) in limited action (just 13 Games and 32 AB's) for the GCL Twins. I expect Buenrostro to end up with a short-season team again in 2007, and the only question for me is whether the Twins are going to view his 13 games as enough playing time in the Gulf Coast League. I think he'll be asked to stay there for this season, but could easily see him being assigned to the E-Twins as well. I'd be very surprised if he were promoted to Beloit on the basis of just 13 games.
#12 - Bradford King - RELEASED (c. 3/30/07)
King is a 32-year-old who the Twins picked up off the scrap heap (he played in the Independent Atlantic League in 2004 and 2006). Frankly, I don't know exactly what the plan is for King - I expect that he'll be given a chance this spring to prove that he could be a beneficial guy to have on a minor league roster somewhere, and I'm assigning him to New Britain (he reached AAA in the Texas system in 2002, and was with Pittsburgh's AAA team in 2003) because he's been out of the Major League system for awhile. He could be asked to play at the AAA level, however, because there is a dearth of high-level talent in the Twins system at catcher. Ultimately, I think the fate of Matthew LeCroy will answer a lot of questions regarding what happens with King.
#13 - Matthew LeCroy (40-Man) - FREE AGENCY (c. 10/05/07)
Alright, we all know that LeCroy is not really a catcher. But, considering the justification that the Twins gave for signing LeCroy (basically, they said "we need catching depth"), I figured it made sense to include him here. I don't think LeCroy is going to make the Major League team (certainly, if he did, it wouldn't be as a catcher), and in many respects I think his signing by the Twins was a favor to great guy who is trying to hang on in baseball. If he doesn't make the team, I expect him to retire (or to try to get out of the contract), but it's possible that he would be assigned to Rochester, and if that's where he ends up there is a good chance that he'll be asked to catch a bit while he's there. Chris Heintz will be the primary catcher at AAA, but Heintz split time last year with Shawn Wooten, and will probably be asked to do the same this year with either LeCroy or Brad King. Began season with Rochester
#14 - Jose Leger - Beloit Snappers [FtM / NB] [Disabled List]
Leger is a multi-position player, capable of catching or playing in the infield (particularly 3B). As a result, his assignment likely depends on what the Twins decide to ask him to do this year. As a catcher, I think he belongs in Ft. Myers, but if he's asked to be an infielder, I could see him ending up in New Britain. Leger, who is 24, was first signed by the Twins in 2004, and first played for Ft. Myers in 2005 (.279/649 in 51 Games). In 2006, he played with Beloit, Ft. Myers, and New Britain (just 3 games), playing the most in Beloit and hitting the best there (.248). It seems to me that he was primarily an infielder when he came into the system, and probably dropped a level to Beloit to be transformed into a catcher. Just where he will play (position-wise and geographically) is probably yet to be determined. Began season with Beloit
#15 - Jose Morales (40-Man) - Minnesota Twins [New Britain]
I feel a little bad at having the soon to be 24-year-old listed so low - he was a 3rd round draft choice for the Twins back in 2001, and has put up some really nice offensive numbers in the past (.309 with GCL in 2002, .287 with Ft. Myers in 2004). However, in 2005 he played in just 7 games with New Britain, and last season he took a major step backward offensively with the Rock Cats, hitting just .211 in 80 Games. He also played in 2 games for Rochester, hitting .143 (1 hit in 7 at-bats). A strong offensive season would prove my low ranking of him wrong - if he regains his offensive ability, then he's easily one of the top 3 catching prospects in the organization. Hopefully he can stay healthy and re-establish himself this season. Began season with Rochester
#16 - Allan de San Miguel - Beloit Snappers
The Australian-born de San Miguel just turned 19, and yet will be entering his 3rd professional season in 2007. Oddly enough, his best offensive numbers were posted with the highest level at which he's played - in 11 games with Ft. Myers in 2005. He started that season with the GCL Twins, hitting just .204 in 23 games, and ended up with Ft. Myers, posting a .242 batting average in 33 at-bats. Last season, he played with Beloit, hitting .208 in 202 at-bats over 71 games. I expect him to stay with the Snappers this season as he continues to develop. Began season with Beloit
#17 - Miguel Barrientos - RELEASED (c. 1/11/08)
Barrientos is a 20-year-old Puerto Rican who hits from the left side. He's already spent two seasons with the GCL Twins, playing in 18 Games in 2005 and hitting just .159, then playing in just 8 games in 2006 and hitting .143. I have him playing in the Gulf Coast League again this year, but I suspect that to avoid being cut, he'll need to prove himself in Extended Spring Training. Began season with GCL
#18 - Jae-Hyeong Jang - UNASSIGNED [GCL]
There is very little information out there on Jang - all I know is that he is from South Korea. As a result, he automatically gets slotted in last on my list, and I'm assigning him to the GCL simply because I don't know at what level he plays. It's very possible that he's a good enough catcher to start higher up in the minor league system, but without more information I can't make a firm prediction on that. It will be interesting to see where he pops up this year.
NR - Javier Sanchez - Ft. Myers Miracle
In the first of what is likely to be several errors, I've excluded a catcher from the list. His name is Javi Sanchez, and he missed last season (presumably due to injury). Seth's posting on outfielders and catchers made me aware of the error. I don't know a lot about Sanchez, but he hit .251 in 2005 for Beloit, and .271 in 2004 for Elizabethton, so I'd probably put him somewhere in the 7-10 range on the list above. Began season with Ft. Myers
NR - Jason Anthony - RELEASED (c. 6/20/07)
Anthony was signed by the Twins in early April, 2007, and is likely to play in either the GCL or with Elizabethton. He appears to be a 22-year-old righty out of Van Nuys, California whose professional experience is limited to 10 games with the GCL Dodgers in 2006.
NR - David Hernandez - GCL Twins [No Prediction]
Like Anthony, David Hernandez was also signed in early April, 2007. I don't know a lot about him, although he may be a 21-year-old (22 on May 6) righty drafted by the Angels in the 19th round of the 2004 draft who converted to a pitcher for two years in the Orioles system. There's some question as to whether this is the same Hernandez, or whether biographies have been mixed up a wee bit. Undoubtedly, the situation will become somewhat clearer when he gets assigned to a team and starts playing in some ballgames. Began season with GCL
NR - Daniel Rohlfing - GCL Twins [No Prediction]
Rohlfing was drafted by the Twins in the 14th round of the 2007 draft, and was signed on June 12. He comes out of Oakville High School in St. Louis, MO, and was born on February 12, 1989. Word is that Rohlfing was a third baseman for a lot of his time in high school, but is a better catcher than he is an infielder, so he shifted. Began season with GCL
NR - Benjamin Petsch - Elizabethton Twins [No Prediction]
Petsch was a 19th round pick by the Twins in the 2007 draft, and like Rohlfing, he signed on June 12. Petsch comes to the Twins out of Belmont University in Tennessee, and has the distinction of being the second-oldest player taken by the team in the '07 draft, having been born on September 3, 1984. Began season with Elizabethton
NR - Alexander Soto - GCL Twins [No Prediction]
Soto is a graduate of the Twins Dominican Summer League team. In 2006, Soto hit .221/.691 in 95 AB's and 3 HR's in the DSL, but the Twins must have seen something that they liked in him because they assigned him to the GCL this season. Soto was born on November 8, 1986, and hits and throws from the right side. Began season with GCL
NR - Drew Butera - New Britain Rock Cats [No Prediction]
Butera was acquired by the Twins in the trade that sent Luis Castillo to the Mets on July 31. Butera, son of former Twin Sal Butera, is known primarily as a defensive specialist who lacks the kind of offensive abilities that could lead him to anything more than a backup job in the Majors. He was born on August 9, 1983 is a right-handed hitter. Butera was drafted in the 5th round of the 2005 draft by the Mets out of the University of Central Florida. He hit .217 in 175 AB's in the New York-Penn League (short-season A) in 2005, then played at the Low A level with Hagerstown in 2006, hitting just .185 in 297 AB's. After starting off 2007 with High A St. Lucie, where he hit .258 in 182 AB's, he was promoted to AA Binghamton, where he hit just .188 prior to the trade to Minnesota.
NR - Andres Diaz - GCL Twins [No Prediction]
Diaz was originally drafted by the Twins in the 32nd round of the 2006 draft, but didn't sign before the next draft. He became a free agent after that, and the Twins signed him in time to give him 10 AB's in the GCL, where he hit .300. Diaz is a righty who was born on July 22, 1988 in Lake Worth, FL, and he attended Palm Beach Junior College. Beyond that, I know virtually nothing about him.
NR - Daniel Rams - GCL Twins [No Prediction]
Rams was the Twins 2nd round pick in the 2007 draft. He hits from the right side, and was born on December 19, 1988 in Miami, FL. Rams started his Twins career by getting 97 AB's in the GCL, where he hit .258.
NR - Danny Lehmann - Elizabethton Twins [No Prediction]
Lehmann was drafted in the 8th round of the 2007 draft out of Rice University. He was born in Denver, Colorado on 9/05/85. Lehmann started his career by hitting .221 in 77 AB's for the E-Twins.
NR - Eli Whiteside - No Assignment [No Prediction]
Whiteside, a 28-year-old veteran minor leaguer, was signed by the Twins as a minor league free agent on November 22.