Twins Future Position Analysis: Catcher
Image courtesy of © Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports (Garver), Brad Rempel, USA TODAY Sports (Jeffers), William Parmeter (Rortvedt)Current Catchers: Mitch Garver and Ryan Jeffers
Garver was limited to 23 games in 2020 and he hit .167/.247/.264 with three extra-base hits. It was going to be hard to live up to his 2019 season when he posted a .995 OPS with 31 home runs and 16 doubles in 93 games. While it’s unlikely for Garver to replicate those totals, his 2020 season was impacted by a right intercostal strain. He will be 30-years old next year and the Twins have team control over him for three more seasons.
Jeffers impressed in his first taste of the big leagues, especially on the defensive side of the ball. His Strike Rate was the highest in the American League and he was especially good at getting strike calls on the edges of the zone. His offensive numbers weren’t too shabby either as he posted a .791 OPS with three home runs. Many scouts saw him as a bat-only catcher coming out of college, so it shows how much the Twins have been able to do with him since he joined the system in 2018.
Garver and Jeffers figure to get the bulk of the time behind the plate in 2021, but the Twins have other options that add depth to the organization. Willians Astudillo still has options remaining so the Twins can stash him at St. Paul and then bring him up when needed at the big-league level. Since joining the Twins, he has hit .294/.319/.428 with only 13 strikeouts in over 317 plate appearances.
Before this year’s Rule 5 Draft, the Twins added Ben Rortvedt, a 2016 second-round pick, to the 40-man roster. He finished the 2019 season at Double-A and his OPS has risen in every professional season. He will likely start the year at Double-A, especially with some of the other more veteran catchers in the organization.
On the Farm Options
Outside of the options mentioned above, there are other catching options in the minor leagues including some strong prospects.
Telis has over 120 games played at the big-league level and he did well during his first year in the Twins organization. At Triple-A, he hit .330/.364/.490 with 31 extra-base hits and a 33 to 16 strikeout to walk ratio. Hamilton, a 2016 draft pick, reached Triple-A in 2019 and he has shown the ability to play multiple defensive positions. He ended 2019 with a .660 OPS and 26 extra-base hits in 99 games.
Williams spent time at Low- and High-A in 2019 and he was limited to a .192 batting average. However, he got on base over 33% of the time and ended with a .749 OPS after collecting 26 extra-base hits in 74 games. Casanova was a 2018 draft pick and he spent 2019 at the same levels as Williams. His 2019 strikeout percentage is the highest among all the catchers in the system.
Minnesota took Isola out of college in 2019 and he made it all the way to Low-A in his professional debut. He destroyed the ball in seven games with the E-Twins as he went 10-for-25 and posted a 1.029 OPS. Salva has been in the organization since 2016 and he spent his first three years in the GCL. Last season at E-Town, he posted a .710 OPS, his highest total of his professional career. Morales made his stateside debut in 2019 and he will have a chance to move to Low-A in 2021.
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