See You In September? Catching Help

There is no denying that the Phillies need some assistance in the catching department at the major league level, which is why they were pursued David Ross, only to lost him to the Boston Red Sox. So, with just a small amount of choices to pick from on the trade market, the Phillies could look in-house.

One area that the Phillies minor league teams are generally pretty well stocked in is catching. There are two prospects who warrant consideration for a September call-up, based on their numbers and the amount of rungs that they've climbed in the minors; Jason Jaramillo and Lou Marson.

For some time, Jaramillo was the best catching prospect in the organization. Now, he and Marson are ranked one and two, with some putting Jaramillo ahead and others putting Marson ahead. With each passing day, Marson picks up more and more supporters, but both are deserving of consideration.

Jason Jaramillo started slowly, but has put up impressive numbers since May 1st. He could at least give the Phillies an emergency catcher for the stretch run if the Phillies decide to give him his first stint in the majors. (Photo: Philly Baseball News)
Jaramillo is in his second full season at the Triple-A level and by all accounts is as ready as he's ever going to be to play in the majors. After a horrid start to the season (hitting just .193 in April), Jaramillo has been impressive at the plate and has hit .291 since May 1st. The fact that he's a switch-hitter doesn't hurt his value and the Phillies might have an opportunity here and there to fit him into the lineup in September. If nothing else, it would free up Charlie Manuel to go to Chris Coste or Carlos Ruiz as a pinch-hitter and still have an emergency catcher available. Since he's already on the 40 man roster, they also wouldn't need to clear a roster spot for him to join the big league club. Pitchers on the Lehigh Valley roster have raved about working with Jaramillo and he's done a decent job of throwing out would-be base stealers, tossing out 36% of them this season. Again, his numbers early in the season were horrible and he has done much better defensively since May 1st as well.

As for Marson, another season in the minors wouldn't hurt him, but neither would a September audition. Unlike Jaramillo, Marson is not on the 40 man roster, so there would have to be a move made to fit him in, but that's doable. Also unlike Jaramillo, Marson has been strong since Opening Day with just a stumble in June when he hit .259 for Double-A Reading. Overall, he's hitting .317 with a .435 on-base percentage thanks in part to the fact that he's struck out just four more times than he's walked this season (69 K, 65 BB).

While his offense is impressive, the most impressive showing by Marson in Double-A came when he wasn't even in the country. Marson was a member of the bronze medal winning Team USA that just returned from the Olympics and his presence was greatly missed while he was in Beijing. Prior to his leaving, Reading pitchers had a 4.93 ERA on the season and then proceeded to post a 6.24 ERA while Marson was away from the club.

The final option would be to recall both catchers and let them get an early jump on the inevitable competition that should be going on in camp next Spring - barring any trades, of course - that could have Jaramillo and Marson fighting for the starting job in Philly with Carlos Ruiz. If the Phillies decide to recall just one catcher this September, Jaramillo should be the pick. If he's not, the Phillies would send a clear signal both to Jaramillo and to other teams that Jaramillo's spot on the depth chart - and thus, a chunk of Jaramillo's trade value - has officially been taken over by Marson.

Odds that only Jaramillo will be recalled: 65%
Odds that only Marson will join the Phillies: 25%
Odds that Jaramillo and Marson will join the Phillies: 10%



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