M's Prospect Positional Rankings: Catchers

The prospect rankings are finally upon us and InsidethePark reveals its positional rankings starting with the catcher position. <br><br> The weak link in the organization, the catching spot needs help from the recent draftees to stave off mediocrity. Lacking a top prospect in the bunch, the M's are without much depth behind the plate.

 
Rene Rivera

Opening Day Age: 21
Born: Bayamon, PR
Height/Weight: 5-10/200
Bats/Throws: R/R
2004 Teams: Inland Empire, Tacoma, Seattle

2004 Positional Ranking: 2
2005 Positional Ranking: 1

   
2004: .241, 7 HR, 54 RBI at Inland Empire, Tacoma

Breakdown:
As solid as Rivera was behind the dish, the 21-year-old was just as disappointing standing at it with a bat in his hand. The Puerto Rican native has advanced defensive skills but just like any other position in the minors, you have to hit your way into a big league job.

Rivera has enough offensive skills to push his way into the majors but needs to rebound in a big way. His time spent in Triple-A Tacoma may have been a confidence booster and could jump-start his 2005 campaign.

2005 Projection:
Rivera should be set to start 2005 in Double-A San Antonio as the everyday backstop. Riveras experience in Tacoma and then with the Ms in September could have an immense effect on his future. Look for Rivera to make some improvements with the bat and make another appearance in Tacoma and/or Seattle when rosters expand at the end of the season.


 
Ryan Christianson

Opening Day Age: 23
Born: Riverside, CA
Height/Weight: 6-2/220
Bats/Throws: R/R
2004 Teams: San Antonio, Tacoma

2004 Positional Ranking: Unranked
2005 Positional Ranking: 2

   
2004: .280, 1 HR, 13 RBI at San Antonio, .258, 6 HR, 24 RBI at Tacoma

Breakdown:
Christianson's 2004 wasn't stellar, by any means, but after the struggles of 2003, he'd gladly take it and run. Battling injuries that caused him to miss all of '03, Christianson returned to the field last season and, considering he hadnt hit live pitching for two summers, performed fairly well.

The kicker is that the 23-year-olds injured throwing arm wouldnt allow him to catch. It's imperative that he return to catching if he is to regain his prospect status. His bat is solid, for a catcher, but would not project anywhere above average if he moved to 1B or the DH spot.

Projection 2005:
Christianson should be the opening day starter for Triple-A Tacoma, as long as his throwing rehab goes well this winter. The former No. 1 pick may be splitting some time with veteran Wiki Gonzalez but as long as he stays healthy will be the top backstop for the Rainiers.


 
Daniel Santin

Opening Day Age: 19
Born: Miami, FL
Height/Weight: 6-3/190
Bats/Throws: L/R
2004 Teams: Peoria, Everett

2004 Positional Ranking: Unranked
2005 Positional Ranking: 3

   
2004: .314, 4 HR, 28 RBI

Breakdown:
Santin signed just prior to the 2004 daft and had a banner season at the plate in Peoria. After hitting .325/.384/.506 in the Arizona Rookie League, Santin is primed and ready to be tested, both at and behind the plate.

Defensively, Santin showed that he has a lot to learn and is raw in some areas. This unpolished aspect of his game may force a position switch, but for now he will remain at catcher. His lefty stick is an asset in any lineup and could develop 20 home run power.

Projection 2005:
Santin will likely be juggled between Wisconsin and Everett for the better part of the 2005 season. If he proves he can hit and call a game in Wisconsin early in the year he could place himself on the fast track up the charts.


 
Luis Oliveros

Opening Day Age: 21
Born: Guatire, VZ
Height/Weight: 6-1/185
Bats/Throws: R/R
2004 Teams: San Antonio

2004 Positional Ranking: 1
2005 Positional Ranking: 4

   
2004: .229, 4 HR, 22 RBI

Breakdown:
Oliveros not only failed to take a step forward this past season, the 21-year-old took a rather enormous leap in the wrong direction and was lapped by Rivera as the most advanced catcher in the system. The Venezuelan never got in a groove at the plate and his defensive skills may not be enough to thrust him much further than Triple-A.

If Oliveros is to see a return to status he must swing the bat better and with more authority. With the glove and arm he simply needs to find consistency.

Projection 2005:
Nothing that Oliveros did in 2004 warrants a promotion to Tacoma and a repeat in Double-A as the backup is probably in the Ms best interest.


 
Justin Ruchti

Opening Day Age: 24
Born: Houston, TX
Height/Weight: 6-1/185
Bats/Throws: R/R
2004 Teams: Wisconsin

2004 Positional Ranking: Unranked
2005 Positional Ranking: 5

   
2004: .222, HR, 22 RBI

Breakdown:
Ruchti followed up a solid first pro season with a disappointing year with the bat. After hitting .276 last season, Ruchtis average dropped over 50 points and is making a living off of his abilities to call a game and with the use of his glove and arm.

As with the rest of the Ms catching prospects, Ruchti must turn it up with the bat if he wants to progress through the system, the wood must start barking for the Rice product.

2005 Projection:
Ruchti's future will depend on what whether he can be an asset, somewhat, offensively in the higher levels of the minors. Expect him to begin the season with the Inland Empire 66ers in the California League.

Others:
  • Robert Johnson, 21, Peoria, Everett
  • Omar Falcon, 22, Everett
  • Brian Schweiger, 22, Everett


  • Up Next: 1B & OF, Wednesday, December 1


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