The first full-team workout is in the books for the Philadelphia Phillies organization and now, preparation for the 2014 baseball season is officially underway. There is a lot of work to be done, and Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg and the front office have a lot to sort out in regards to how the rosters of the Major League club and their Minor League affiliates will be pieced together.
Continuing what has been a week-long series, here’s a look at how the Lehigh Valley IronPigs’ situation at the catchers position may look when the season gets underway on April 3 against the Pawtucket Red Sox.
Starting Catcher: Cameron Rupp
Rupp might be ready for the big leagues soon, but for now, he needs more time at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The 25-year-old has outstanding power for a catcher, hitting 14 home runs in 94 games in the Minors last season. He desperately needs to improve his discipline at the plate, however, as he strikes out far too often for his own good.
Behind the plate, he’s average. He does a good job of getting down and blocking balls, but his size (6-foot-1, 240 pounds) takes away some of his lateral mobility. Despite some of his physical disadvantages as a catcher, he should stick behind the plate and could have a place as a Major League backup.
Backup Catcher: Sebastian Valle
His bat is certainly not noteworthy, but his defense gives him a good chance to continue moving up within the Phillies organization.
The 23-year-old took a dramatic step backward in 2013 while at Reading, hitting .203 in 354 at-bats. The kid has pop, though, and if he can get some quality coaching at Lehigh Valley to help him improve as a contact hitter, he could be a serious prospect for the Phillies in the near future.
The Mexican-born backstop hit 12 home runs for the Fightin’ Phils last season and totaled 17 in 2012, when he split time between Reading and Lehigh Valley (he played 22 games for the IronPigs).
Lou Musto covers the Lehigh Valley IronPigs for Examiner.com. You can follow him on Twitter @LouisMusto for all the latest Lehigh Valley IronPigs news.