Chad Jennings recently did a round up of all the catchers in camp this spring. Its excellent, you should read it.
The Yankees have a ton of depth at the catcher position. The depth chart, in order of closeness to the majors:
- 1. Francisco Cervelli
- 2. P.J. Piliterre
- 3. Kyle Anson
- 4. Austin Romine
- 5. Jesus Montero
Piliterre and Cervelli provide the Yankees with two defensive standouts who wouldn’t immediately be all that strong with the bat. P.J. will probably have a much longer career as a coach than as a major league hitter, but Cervelli has some potential to hit enough to be a MLB backup. He has little power, but will take enough walks to be useful. He should replace Molina by 2010.
Further down, Anson provides an interesting option for the Yankees should both Molina and Posada get hit by a bus. He’s new to catching,but has a strong arm and has shown flashes of hitting skill. He’s not a strong prospect by any means. Romine and Montero are years away, but are much better prospects than those mentioned.
While the immediate depth chart is interesting, the brass tax is in the top prospect list, with their expected ETA in paranthesis:
- 1. Jesus Montero (2011)
- 2. Austin Romine (2011)
- 3. Francisco Cervelli (2010)
- 4. Kyle Higashioka (2012-13)
- 5. Eric Fryer (2011)
That is a much more impressive list. Romine and Montero are two of the best catching prospects in the minor leagues. It is very possible that Romine will be good enough that the Yankees consider giving Montero time in left field once he gets closer to the majors. They both have the potential to be major assets for the Yankees, and are relatively safe bets to each have some sort of major league career.Kyle Higashioka is the new kid on the block, but his reputation is not unlike Romine’s right after he was drafted. Fryer is an interesting new option, but may be stuck in left field since Tampa’s two catching slots will be filled.
The important part here is that the Yankees could very well have a solid surplus of catchers in the near future. Cervelli could easily fulfill a backup role, requiring either a trade or a position change for the others (if they make it that far). The Braves benefitted enormously from their catching surplus a few years ago, and the Yankees likely will also benefit. Jorge Posada’s contract runs through the 2011 season.
We saw last season how difficult it is to find a replacemnt catcher. There aren’t that many catchers out there that are legitimate assets to their team. Posada may have been our biggest competitive advantage from 2000 until his injury last season. Montero has the potential to be much better than Posada. Think about that.