It wasn’t long ago that the Dodgers had a dearth of catching that spanned the entire organization. The Yasmani Grandal trade obviously shored up that issue for the big club, but the Dodgers now have a number of intriguing prospects at multiple levels. Today we look at three who toiled for Tulsa this past season.
Once again, Barry Lewis gives us his view after covering the Drillers for the Tulsa World Media Company. I’d emphasize his thoughts with this group particularly since so much of what you expect from catchers is on defense and metrics like pitch framing can be tough to come by at the minor league level.
Lewis: “All three Tulsa catchers seemed solid as far as calling games and all three were good hitting with runners in scoring position. Zarraga was the most advanced defensively in all phases of the Tulsa catchers and threw out 43 percent of basestealers.”
After eight years in the minors, it might be a stretch to call Zarraga a “prospect” but he did earn a promotion to Oklahoma City and even had a cameo with the big club in late August. That BABIP gives caution to his slash line, but his solid defense is really what plays. This is the kind of player who is often uncelebrated but when you talk about “organizational depth” this is who you mean. Why does it matter? It matters because you can make choices based on merit and not on the needs of the big club or others in the chain. It also means the younger prospects spend time with solid pros like Zarraga, another ancillary but crucial benefit.
Lewis: “Was real good offensively and defensively until suffering a broken wrist May 29. When he returned after two months, the wrist was fine, but he struggled offensively and defensively for the rest of the Drillers’ season – although his playoff promotion to Oklahoma City rejuvenated his bat. Threw out 34 percent of basestealers.”
The Dodgers’ 2013 8th-round pick put up solid numbers, and it’s no surprise to hear about struggles post-wrist. Those are brutal injuries for ballplayers, especially because you can get back on the field after suffering from them but you just aren’t the same for a while. Lewis wasn’t kidding about AAA, by the way: Farmer hit .444 (12-27) in OKC’s playoff series vs. Nashville and El Paso.
Lewis: “A shame that a little pique of frustration cost him the final two months with a broken foot because he was making an impressive transition to catching. Threw out 36 percent of basestealers and the pitching staff enjoyed its most success before he was sidelined.”