Examining the Dodger Minor League Catchers

Sixth in a series as we examine the makeup of Dodger minor league teams by position.

So, Russell Martin is at Las Vegas, which is as expected, but a couple of other catching assignments in the Dodger system might raise some eyebrows -at least, at first.

Martin actually had a very strong spring -which Dioner Navarro did not- but it was Navarro's big league experience that won the L.A. job in the end. And Russell shouldn't feel too badly for he's been promoted, having played at Jacksonville last season and, further, is only a breath away from the big leagues should Navarro falter in any way.

But it had been thought at the start of spring training that the 42-year-old Pat Borders, a onetime World Series MVP, had been signed as a free agent to play behind Martin and school him a bit. However, the schooling has been left to Steve Yeager, the 51's coach, and Borders was assigned to Class A Vero Beach, instead. This is, as much as anything, to accommodate him for he and wife Kathy and their seven kids, live a couple hours away in Lake Wales.

Instead of Borders, Martin gets Edwin Bellorin as a backup. Bellorin had re-signed after becoming a free agent because he thought he'd be the regular at Jacksonville, a position he held in 2004. That job, though, has been assigned to Brad Cresse, son of former Dodger bullpen coach Mark and another free agent signee. Eric Langill, the professional reserve, is currently on the Vegas disabled list while A. J. Ellis, who also has never been a regular in his three-year tenure, is now behind Cresse at Jacksonville.

At Vero, Borders will tutor the young and talented pitching staff that includes Scott Elbert and Blake Johnson, among others. He'll probably catch three times a week with Gabriel Gutierrez and Chris Westervelt, both up from Columbus, to spell him. Gutierrez has solid receiving skills but is not all that much of a hitter while Westervelt is strong with the bat but light on defense.

The Columbus starting assignment goes to Juan Apodaca, who played well at Ogden last year while hitting .278 along with Tony Harper, who rehabbed an elbow operation all last season. He last played in the Gulf Coast League in 2004 when he hit .264.

Curacao native Kenley Jansen, who hit .304 in the Gulf Coast League last season, and Carlos Medero, who hit .313 for the same team, are both in the extended camp. Jansen also can play first base. Other receivers there are Ryder Mathias and Jeremy Todd. Mathias is being converted, having played first in the Devil Rays' organization in 2005 and was a recent acquisition to complete the Danys Baez trade. Todd, who played independent ball previously, was signed out of a March tryout camp.

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