The Texas Rangers acquired first baseman Brandon Snyder from the Baltimore Orioles today in exchange for cash considerations.
Snyder, 25, was the 13th overall pick in the 2005 June Draft, selected by the Orioles. After six seasons in the minor leagues, however, Snyder’s power has never materialized and he’s gotten just 37 major league plate appearances for a down-trodden O’s club over the past two seasons.
Originally drafted as a catcher, Snyder has gotten most of his playing time as a corner infielder. In fact, apart from one appearance behind the plate for Triple-A Norfolk in 2011, Snyder hasn’t caught since 2006.
Unfortunately for Snyder, his bat plays much better as a catcher than as a corner infielder. He’s not a high average or high OBP guy, but he does find the gaps with regularity and his doubles numbers reflect that. At 6’2″ and 215 lbs, most figured that those doubles would eventually become home runs, but he’s never posted more than 14 in any minor league season.
For now, Snyder will go to camp with Texas and try to make the squad as a long-shot. If he fails, he’ll likely split time at Round Rock with recently re-signed first baseman Brad Nelson.
It would be unconventional, but certainly not unprecedented for the Rangers to move Snyder back behind the plate. He’s certainly not the first catcher who was moved off the position as a professional and he wouldn’t be the only one to return to catching due to a lack of success at the plate. In recent years, former first-round picks Jeff Clement and Eric Munson were both drafted as catchers and immediately moved to infield positions.
Munson eventually returned to catching and spent a couple of seasons as a major league backup. Clement is trying to go the same route in his effort to make it to, and stay in, the major leagues. The Rangers don’t have an immediate need for a catcher, but Yorvit Torrealba is a free agent following the 2012 season. If all were to go well in this kind of transition, perhaps Snyder could provide a reasonable facsimile in 2013.