It’s great to be here writing for Phuture Phillies! I’m joecull, and as could be assumed, I’ll be writing for Phuture Phillies. My work will mainly pertain to the Reading Fightin’ Phils (And no, I’m not a fan of the name). Without further ado, lets analyze Reading’s catching situation.
Sebastian Valle- By now, we all know about Valle’s plate discipline, or lack thereof. Last year, he hit .253/.271/.428 with 17 homers and 58 RBI in 388 at-bats between Reading and Lehigh Valley. If he was in Lehigh Valley last year, why is he back in Reading? The answers are quite simple. He was simply dominated in AAA last year, in no small part thanks to his lack of plate discipline. Valle walked 2 times in 80 plate appearances and struck out 31 times. That’s a 15.5 K/BB ratio, which is pretty ugly. It’s safe to say that he wasn’t ready for AAA. Also, Tommy Joseph’s emergence plays a role in Valle’s return to Reading. Acquired in last year’s Hunter Pence trade, Joseph is a better hitter than Valle with more plate discipline.
With Cameron Rupp, another promising catcher, in Reading, where does Valle fit in? Chances are that Rupp and Valle will split time at catcher, with one of them moving to the DH spot. Also, Valle took reps in left field during Spring Training, so the outfield’s always an option for Valle, who has a good arm.
Next up is the aforementioned Cameron Rupp, who’s a pretty decent athlete for a catcher. Formerly a linebacker recruit before solely committing to baseball, he has a linebacker’s size (6’1″, 240 lbs.).
Last year, Rupp stayed in Clearwater, hitting .267/.345/.424 with 10 homers and 49 RBI in 344 at-bats. Unlike Valle, Rupp doesn’t have plate discipline issues, as evidenced by his .345 OBP. He’s the type of player who’s a jack of all trades and a master of none. Perhaps the best part of the game is his arm, as evidenced by his CS% of 34% last year.
To get constant at-bats this year, like Valle, he’ll have to spend some time at DH. It wouldn’t be surprising for one of the two promising pitching prospects to seperate himself from the other, gaining the majority of the playing time at catcher. Who that catcher will be is yet to be decided.
Last but not least is John Suomi. Suomi, 32, batted .265/.311/.393 with 4 homers and 29 RBI last year in 196 at-bats at Lehigh Valley. There’s really not much to see here, with Suomi being the stereotype of organizational depth. Granted, organizational depth is important, but at the same time, organizational depth is organizational depth.
Suomi won’t get much playing time at catcher with Rupp and Valle ahead of him on the depth chart. In a pinch, Suomi can play first base, so he may receive a very rare start or two there.
Given all of the catching talent and depth in Reading, there will be problems getting everybody constant at-bats. With all being said, that’s a pretty good problem to have. Here’s to a good season of MiLB baseball!