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The Colorado Rockies are deep, talented and just generally strong at every position. At many spots, they go two or three deep with quality players.
This offseason, the Rockies added two things: a catcher and relievers. One will be the best the club has ever been at the position, the other is a longtime hole that has plagued the Rockies for much of their history. Fortunately Colorado re-acquired their best player in franchise history at this position. Unfortunately, he’s towards the tail end of his career.
This position preview is about the group that may have the most questions, struggle the most and was largely not good last season. Welcome to the Rockies catchers, the position that has always been a question mark for this franchise. Yet there is reason for hope and a lot of it, and absolutely nobody is talking about it.
Jonathan Lucroy was absolutely terrific for the Rockies last season. Coming over from Texas before the deadline he regained his former All-Star caliber play to backstop the Rockies to the postseason. He is gone. Before he came, the Rockies had collectively the worst WAR out of any team in baseball for the catcher’s spot. Now what?
Ianetta did something similar to what Lucroy did last season, backstopping his team to a postseason bid for the first time in serval years. Doing so for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Iannetta OPS’d .865, his highest mark since 2008.
Arguably the best catcher in franchise history, Ianetta, was sent to Anaheim for Tyler Chatwood before the 2012 season. He spent four years with the Angels, another in Seattle, before finally going to the desert for a year.
He has gotten better defensively over the course of his career but has never played more than 112 games and hasn’t played into the triple figures since 2014.
The Rockies will rely heavily on reserves. Ianetta will catch just about half the season and as a right-handed hitter, Colorado can work a platoon.
But as a baseline player, he is much better than what the Rockies have boasted at this spot the last few years.
The left-handed hitting portion of the platoon and one of the better rebound candidates on the Rockies.
In 2016, Wolters impressed coming straight from Double-A to the majors with just one year of catching experience to do admirably in the bigs. In 2017 he was off to a strong start before a concussion threw him off. Combined with a new manager and a new approach to pitching, Wolters spiraled at the plate and defensively as he never got caught up.
The concussion completely changed his season, and I do not think he played through its symptoms the rest of the year rather it was a combination of factors mentioned above, pressure from playing on a good club and a generic sophomore slump.
I think there is still a lot of hope for the Rockies in Wolters otherwise they would’ve signed a catcher that could anchor the team. He’s only 26 and backstops normally mature/peak later than everyone else. Look for Wolters to be better in 2018, if he’s not the Rockies could be screwed.
Once one of the organization’s top prospects he’s been relegated to Quad-A player. He still has the big bat, albeit it’s yet to perform well at Coors, though there are still major questions about his defense. Will Murphy ever figure out? I’m not sure and I don’t think anyone could tell you but he will get his shot at some point this season.
Almost every team in the last decade of baseball has needed four catchers. The Rockies have three you’ve heard about and then these next two. Either one of these two players is likely to play this season or the Rockies need to acquire another catcher.
The 25-year-old right-hander is on the 40-man roster but he’s yet to have played in Double-A. A shortstop at UC-Irvine, Rabago, OPS’d .744 in 89 games for High-A Lancaster last season. That sounds like a high number, but he was older for the league and the California League is highly favorable to hitters.
In 45 games for the Triple-A Isotopes, he OPS’d .849. He was limited by injuries but this was his best offensive season yet. The 29-year-old presents the most likely depth for the Rockies at backstop.