Texas Rangers backup catcher plans


Nov 2, 2013; Surprise, AZ, USA; Texas Rangers first baseman Brett Nicholas (left) is congratulated by Houston Astros outfielder Delino DeShields after hitting a solo home run against East during the fourth inning of the Fall Stars Game at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

If you’ve been paying attention to the Texas Rangers lineups recently, then you’ll notice that Robinson Chirinos has been getting a majority of the catcher opportunities.   It’s easy to understand why.  Chirinos has clearly been the better option over J.P. Arencibia.  Chirinos is batting better, fielding better, throwing out more and stopping more wild pitches than Arencibia.

Unlucky 13: The Texas Rangers had 13 players on the disabled list this season.  They are finally starting to get players back, but it will still be almost 2 months before Geovany Soto returns.  So it is a real possibility that Chirinos or Arencibia could go down.  Hopefully not, but this season has been plagued by the injury bug.

Backup Plan: If something does happen to Chirinos or Arencibia, the Rangers have a few options in the minors.  Yes, they do have Jorge Alfaro who is currently playing in the minors with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (Class A Advanced team).  He is the Texas Rangers top catching prospect, but he’s still a few steps away from the majors.  During the Texas Rangers Fan Fest I was able to ask Ron Washington about Alfaro.  He basically said that when he’s ready he’s ready.  But overall he hasn’t shown him yet he’s ready for the majors.  Many of the scouting reports say his bat is doing much better and he plays behind the plate, do I dare say it, Ivan Rodriguez.

Realistic options: The Rangers did have Chris Snyder in their minor league system but he announced his retirement a few days ago.  That leaves the most likely options for a backup catcher to be either Brett Nicholas or Chris Gimenez.

Between the two, it is likely that Gimenez would get the call.  He has 5 years/143 games experience in the majors with a batting average of .199 with 13 doubles and 6 home runs.  He’s playing just so-so with the Round Rock Express this season.  Over 15 games/52 at-bats he has a batting average of .212 with 6 walks and 12 strike outs.   Gimenez managed to catch 6 of 10 base stealers so far.

Power option: If the Rangers want to go for power, then Brett Nicholas is the best option.  Nicholas has normally been a first baseman, but this year he’s strictly focusing on the catcher position.  He caught 2 of 9 base stealers, but his bat has been a lot better than Gimenez.  He has a batting average of .278 with 2 doubles and 3 home runs over 22 games/79 at-bats.

My choice: Both Gimenez and Nicholas have decent numbers if the Rangers do for some reason need to call them up.  If it were up to me, I’d bring up Brett Nicholas to see what he is able to do on the major league level.   He had a horrible spring training at the plate with a batting average of .100 over 10 at-bats.  But, he was able to hit the ball very well and hard, it just happened to be right to someone every time.

Hopefully the Texas Rangers won’t need to use another backup catcher, but they do have some options.  If the Rangers designate J.P. Arencibia for assignment, one of those options could be used later in the season.