Dodger Catchers Clocked Many Miles

The Dodgers minor league catching department may be the thinnest in the system, at least in experience, with a number of veterans and a number of very young and potentially verry good catchers on the charts. They were for the most part, mixed and matched as the situation warranted during the 2008 season.

ALBUQUERQUE-- Before we can determine who will be the lead catcher at Albuquerque in 2009, the Dodgers will have to make a decision on who they intend to use as a backup to All-Star and Gold Glover Russell Martin.

But that's probably only a formality. When they picked up 16-year-veteran Brad Ausmus, they pretty much had determined that he would not only back up Martin, but mentor him.

That leaves out Danny Ardoin, who did an outstanding job in the same capacity in 2008. He not only performed well at Los Angeles, he had a solid season at Las Vegas, hitting .303 with .369 OBP over the 29 games he was with the 51s.

At age 34, will the Dodgers send him back to Triple-A? And if they do, with that hinder the development of 27-year-old A.J. Ellis, who was the franchise leader in on-base percentage (.436), hit .321 and has had an eye-opening spring training. He is hit .353 with the big club while Martin was playing for the Canadian WBC team.

René Rivera, who is 25, saw a appreciable amount of AA and AAA action, catching 32 games hitting .231 for Jacksonville and .271 for Las Vegas. He's been a professional for eight years and could be ready to take off.

It would seem that the Dodgers would give the Isotopes's job to Ellis, with Ardoin getting a lesser number of games in '09, but only if Ardoin wants or is offered the backup job.

Mike Rose, a 31-year-old free agent pickup will certainly contend for the job. Rose had 17 home runs in Triple-A and saw late season action with the Cardinals.

CHATTANOOGA-- Lucas May, a converted infielder, ripped through the Dodgers' system, showing real power but hit a small speed bump at Jacksonville last year. He managed only a .230 average but added 54 RBI and 13 home runs (down from the 25 dingers he launched for Inland Empire in 2007).

May will probably get another season at Double-A, this time Chattanooga, and Gabe Gutierrez, 25, who caught at both Inland Empire and Jacksonville, could split time with May.

INLAND EMPIRE-- The loss of Carlos Santana, another converted infielder who had a breakout season in 2008 (.323-14-96) before being traded to Cleveland in the deal for 3b Casey Blake, took the best young backstopper out of the organization.

Esteban Lopez, who will be 26 in 2009, took over the chores when Santana left and hit .241-1-14 and may move into the starting role.

GREAT LAKES-- Kenley Jansen handled most of the work in 2008 and drew attention with his cannon arm during the World Baseball Classic. He will battle for the Inland Empire slot or split time with Matt Wallach who had a fine season at Ogden.

That could leave Jessie Mier behind the Raptor's plate. He caught briefly with both Great Lakes and Ogden last season.

Gorman Erickson and Andrick Villalobos shared the catching job for the GCL Coasties in their final season in Vero Beach. Keyter Collado, Ryan Arp, Edward Bens, Alexis De La Cruz, Jean Euseio and Pedro Tavarez were all active at Ogden, Gulf Coast and with the Dominican Summer League Dodgers.

Tony Delmonico, being converted into a catcher after working as a second baseman with Ogden last season, will also be somewhere in the mix.

The Dodger minor league catchers piled up so many frequent flyer miles that they all might have spent the off-season in Hawaii. Nine of the 21 backstoppers played with more than one club during the year.

The statistics of the entire 2008 corps:

LAS VEGAS
                 ave  obp  ops  gm  ab   r   h 2b 3b hr bi 
Adoin     	.305 .369 .854  29  99  14  30  6  0  4 16 
Bennett   	.400 .667 1.057  3   5   1   3  0  0  0  1
Ellis	        .321 .436 .892  84 274  44  88 17  4  4 59
Erickson  	.000 .000 .000   1   5   0   0  0  0  0  0
Gulledge  	.000 .000 .000   7  18   1   0  0  0  0  0  
Rivera    	.271 .336 .768  37  118 12  32  7  0  4 12

JACKSONVILLE
                 ave  obp  ops  gm  ab   r   h 2b 3b hr  bi
Gulledge  	.286 .383 .960  27  70   9  20  7  0  4  15  
Gutierrez 	.244 .414 .705  35  86  10  21  1  0  1   7
May       	.230 .294 .697 107 392  54  90 27  1 13  54
Rivera    	.231 .293 .671  38 134  13  31  5  5  5  18

INLAND EMPIRE
	         ave  obp  ops  gm  ab  r   h 2b 3b hr bi
Bennett    	.143 .250 .393   3  7   1   1  0  0  0  1
Garabedian 	.095 .116 .259  13  42  2   4  0  1  0  1
Gutierrez  	.219 .242 .533  19  64  4  14  4  0  0  9 
Ishibashi 	.000 .000 .000   2   2  0   0  0  0  0  0
Lopez      	.241 .312 .631  43 141 17  34  8  0  1 13
Santana    	.323 .431 .994  99 350 88 113 34  4 14 96

GREAT LAKES
                 ave  obp  ops  gm  ab  r  h 2b 3b hr  bi
Garabedian 	.267 .313 .713  54 180 12 48 13  1  3  21
Jansen     	.227 .298 .695  79 247 31 56 15  0  9  27
Lopez      	.286 .444 .730   3   7  0  2  0  0  0   0  
Mier       	.278 .278 .611  14  54  5 15  3  0  0   5

OGDEN
                 ave  obp  ops  gm  ab   r   h 2b 3b hr bi
Arp        	.278 .409 .798  13  18   1   5  2  0  0  1
Collado    	.091 .091 .182   4  11   1   1  0  0  0  0
Mier       	.265 .405 .762  28  98  21  26  5  0  1  7
Wallach    	.283 .356 .927  51 184  35  52 17  3 10 36

GULF COAST LEAGUE
                 ave  obp  ops  gm  ab  r   h 2b 3b hr  bi
Collado    	.288 .393 .739  19  52  5  15  3  0  0   7 
Erickson   	.261 .349 .729  29  92 11  24  5  0  2   7
Villalobos 	.229 .299 .556  25  70  8  16  2  0  0   3 

DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE
                 ave  obp  ops  gm  ab  r   h  2b 3b hr bi
Bens    	.205 .366 .610  41  17 19  24  5  0  1  15
De La Cruz 	.231 .333 .614  20  26  3   6  0  0  0   2
Eusebio 	.138 .167 .305  15  29  2   4  0  0  0   1

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