I figured with a week to go before the Jays first spring training game, we could take a look at what our depth chart could look like at each of the positions. We'll start at catcher.
- J.P. Arencibia: Unless something very bad happens, JP will be our number one catcher. After a less than spectacular 2009 season we started to think that JP would never have this moment but off-season hip and eye surgery seemed to cure his troubles and he earned the PCL MVP award last year. I'm looking forward to getting to see him grow into the job. I'm not expecting a bunch of Gold Gloves in his future but he seems like a hard worker and good guy. He'll have lots of experience giving him advice on the bench with Don Wakamatsu and Jose Molina there. After going through a series of older catchers, the last few years, it will be interesting to watch a rookie. When we did our predictions, this off-season, folks seemed fairly optimistic.
- Jose Molina: Jose did a nice job as back up catcher for us last year. He hit well in the first half or the season, then not at all in the second half, finishing with a .246/.304/.377 line. As always, defense was the best part of his game. He threw out 44% of runner who were foolish enough to try to steal on him and did a great job as 'personal catcher' for Brandon Morrow. I've always liked the idea of assigning one starting pitcher for the backup catcher to handle. It guarantees some work for the catcher and gives the starting catcher regular rest.
- John McDonald: Not really part of the depth at catcher but he is the emergency catcher and has been for a few years now, but hasn't ever been in a major league game, but does work with the pitchers a bit in spring.
- Brian Jeroloman: Brian had a great season in his second look at Double-A pitching last year, finishing with a .261/.429/.419 line. He'll be in Vegas this year and would likely be the call up if one of the top 2 get injured. He's a good defensive catcher and obviously has a good eye at the plate. As a left-handed hitter, he would make a good match with Arencibia in the future. It is rare that a team goes through a season without a catcher missing some time with an injury, but if he doesn't get called up sometime before, we'll likely see him in September. Since he is on the 40-man roster this will be his first option year whether we see him or not, so odds are we will see him.
- Ryan Budde: Signed to a minor league contract and given a spring training invite, he will most likely be the second catcher in Vegas. He is 31 now and has had all of 33 major league at bats. His minor league numbers don't look very exciting either. But then, if we have a couple of injuries, he could end up on our bench at some point, though lots of moves could happen between now and then.
We have a half dozen or so good catching prospects in the minors: Travis d'Arnaud, Carlos Perez, A.J. Jimenez, Yan Gomes, Sean Ochinko and Santiago. None of them are close enough to appear on the depth chart this year, but the future looks interesting.