For years the Texas Rangers fan favorite catcher was Ivan “Pudge” Rodriquez. Pudge was the Rangers catcher from 1991-2002 and then again in part of the 2009 season. In 13 seasons he was an outstanding catcher receiving the American League catcher Gold Glove award and being an All Star for 10 straight seasons and he was named AL MVP for 1999. His career offensive numbers while with the Rangers were .304/.341/.488 with 217 homeruns and 842 RBI. 2011 saw the rise of the next fan favorite catcher, Mike Napoli.
Napoli joined the Rangers on January 25, 2011 via a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays for Frank Francisco and cash. Mike Napoli became the regular starting catcher after Yorvit Torrealba struggled in the first half of the 2011 season. Napoli’s offensive number for 2011 were .320/.414/.631 in 369 at bats compared to Torrealba’s .273/.306/.399 in 396 at bats. Defensively Napoli also posted superior numbers with only 2 errors in 69 games at catcher, while Torrealba had 9 errors in 98 games. With the actions of Torrealba in the Venezuelan Winter League that garnered him a 66 game ban on top of his anemic 2011 numbers Napoli has the starting catcher job wrapped up. Having looked at the catchers in the majors let’s take a look down on the farm for the catchers in training.
AAA Round Rock saw the catching position played by Kevin Cash, Taylor Teagarden and Robinzon Diaz. Since the end of the 2011 season Teagarden has been traded to the Baltimore Orioles for Randy Henry and Greg Miclat. Diaz signed a minor league contract with the Angels on December 23, 2011. Cash has entered free agency. The Rangers have signed Dusty Brown to a minor league contract to share the catching duties with Cash if he returns.
Kevin Cash in a one year contract played 81 games at catcher for Round Rock with 7 errors and posted offensive numbers of .244/.350/.371 in 291 at bats. Taylor Teagarden was at catcher for 41 games with 4 errors and had offensive numbers of .285/.376/.589 in 151 at bats. But unfortunately for Teagarden during his 14 games with the Rangers his offensive numbers were only .235/.278/.294 in 34 at bats with no errors.
Robinzon Diaz split 2011 between Frisco and Round Rock during the 23 games in AAA where he caught he posted offensive numbers of.303/.324/.408 with 6 defensive errors. Dusty Brown in 45 games catching for AAA Indianapolis had 2 defensive errors and offensive numbers of .285/.367/.506 in 172 at bats. These numbers are nearly identical to Teagarden’s production so he should be considered the third catcher for the Rangers at this point. Brown is 29 years old and was originally drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 35th round of the 2000 draft.
Elio Sarmiento is 25 years old and a native of Venezuela and stands at 5’11’ and 200 pounds. He joined the Rangers in 2009 and was send to the Arizona Fall League for the Rangers in 2011. Sarmiento played 57 games at catcher in 2011 with 9 errors and offensive production of .279/.333/.442 in 208 at bats. He also posted 5 homeruns and 27 RBI. His production during the AFL was .216/.216/.297 in 9 games for Surprise.
Jose Felix is 23 years old and a native of Mexico. The 5’10 200 pounder is a pure righty. Felix joined the Rangers in 2008 out of the Mexican League. In 2010 he was sent as a Texas representative to the Arizona Fall League. In 2011 he played 70 games at catcher and had a mere 4 defensive errors. His offensive stats were .228/.263/.297 in 263 at bats with 2 home runs and 28 RBI.
During the inaugural year as the High A level team the Myrtle Beach Pelicans had Zach Zaneski and Vincent DiFazio as their backstop battery. Zach Zaneski joined the Rangers in 2008 signing as a free agent out of the University of Rhode Island. Zaneksi is 25 years old and stands at 6’2” and 215 pounds and is a pure righty. During 2011 he caught 73 games and had 11 errors. Offensively he posted numbers of .281/.344/.409 in 274 at bats with 6 home runs and 42 RBI. Statistically he fell off some from his 2010 offensive numbers.
Vincent DiFazio joined the Rangers in the 12th round of the 2009 MLB draft out of the University of Alabama. He is a 25 year old native of New Jersey who stands 6’0” 215 pounds and bats and throws right handed. DiFazio caught 65 games with 3 errors. His offensive production for 2011 was .232/.380/.417 in 228 at bats.
Tomas Telis joined the Rangers in 2008 as an international free agent at the age of 17. Telis is a native of Venezuela and stands 5’8” 175 pounds, throws right handed and is a switch hitter. Telis missed the 2010 season due to Tommy John surgery. In 2011 he caught 55 games with 7 defensive errors and posted offensive numbers of .297/.329/.430 with 461 at bats scoring 69 RBI. His offensive numbers are somewhat skewed as he was often DH.
Kellin Deglan joined the Rangers through the first round of the 2010 MLB draft, 22nd overall pick out of R.E. Mountain SS in Langley, B.C. Canada. The 19 year old is 6’2” and 195 pounds, bats left handed and throws right handed. He caught 74 games with 13 defensive errors. His offensive numbers were .227/.320/.347 in 291 at bats with 39 RBI.
Short Season A ball with the Spokane Indians saw a trio pick up the catchers gear with Yefry Castillo, Jorge Alfaro and Carson Vitale catching the majority of games. Yefry Castillo is a 21 one year old out of the Dominican Republic. He stands at 5’11” 175 and is a pure righter player. 2008 and 2009 saw him playing in the Dominican Summer League. His 2011 numbers with Spokane were 19 games played at catcher with 3 errors. Offensively he posted quality numbers of .347/.408/.517 in 118 at bats. He spent 10 games in Hickory with decreased offensive numbers of .296/.297/.394 in 71 at bats.
Jorge Alfaro joined the Rangers as an international free agent out of Columbia. He is 18 years old, stands 6’2” at 185 pounds and is a pure right handed player. In his second year with the Rangers he played 36 games at catcher and had 10 errors. Offensively his numbers were .300/.345/.481 in 160 at bats. These numbers were all increases over his 2010 production in the Dominican Summer League.
Carson Vitale was chosen by the Rangers in the 38th round of the 2010 MLB draft. He played 13 games at catcher with 1 error. He is 23 years old and is 6’1” 195 pounds. His offensive production was .170/.308/.208 in 53 at bats.
While 2011 was the Year of the Napoli the catching prospects are numerous for the Texas Rangers.