They're Beginning to Catch On

With the success of Russell Martin one can hardly blame the Dodgers for seeing if there are any more out there like him, i.e. players converted from another position that turn out to be wonderful catchers.

Not that you can expect a Martin clone, understand. Players that good come along only very other decade or so but somebody with some sort of promise would be nice. And so they worked on just such position switches over the past off-season and, in two instances, they're generally pleased with the results for right now it would appear that Luke May and Carlos Santana head the catching corps in the minors.

Both would appear to need a lot more work than Martin required but catching instructor Travis Barbary labored mightily to achieve pleasing results this just-concluded season. And both passed with satisfactory grades.

May generally improved his receiving skills but his most noteworthy achievement was the 25 home runs he ripped for Inland Empire. He doesn't seem to be able to hit for high average, though. Santana has an outstanding arm, the kind that can shut down a running game. His hitting, which had been very promising, fell off in 2007 while laboring for Great Lakes.

As for the other catchers the Dodgers assembled, they tend to be either strong on receiving skills but light with the bat or the reverse. They brought back Ken Huckaby, who's been everywhere and done that, as reserve strength stashed away at Las Vegas, then, in the end, passed him by when they picked up Chad Moeller, a good man with the glove from the Reds. Moeller's up now; Huckaby will probably hit the trail again.

Octavio Martinez, whose career, has been virtually stopped by injuries, was another minor league free agent as was Alberto Concepcion. Neither figure, leaving A. J. Ellis, a very competent man on defense, as the best of those in the upper minors.

Gabe Gutierrez and Juan Apodaca, two more that are defensively inclined rather than offensively proficient, spelled May and Santana at Inland Empire and Great Lakes respectively.

Kenley Jansen would seem to have promising physical tools but, again, his hitting hasn't developed. He began the year with Great Lakes, then dropped back to Ogden. Alex Garabedian, the eighth-round draft choice, showed some semblance of pop with Ogden but needs to develop with the glove. Matt Wallach hit better than expected with that team but will provably be more of a first baseman in the future. Jesse Mier, also with the Raptors, was hurt early so never really got a chance.

Among those in the lower minors, Keyter Collado, who became a Gulf Coast All-Star, seems to have the most promise. He's another with an excellent arm and is a proficient line drive hitter. His catching skills are still raw. Geoff Erickson, the last draft-and-follow signee who also played in the Gulf Coast League, didn't hit much but looked good back of the plate.

Of those in the Dominican Summer League, Pedro Tavarez did the best although none particularly stood out.

Right now there are no plans to move anybody else from the infield or outfield so they'll work with what they have and be grateful that Martin will be around for the next few years, anyway.

LA Dodgers Insider Top Stories