In June of 2002, the annual draft of amateur players featured 1,482 selections. Of those 1,482 players drafted, a total of 155 were catchers. When the draft was concluded, a young catcher from Division II Rollins College in
Eleven years later, that young catcher has seven seasons of Major League experience. He has caught two big league no-hitters, started playoff games, and his total of 474 Major League games played is more than all but three of the 155 catchers that were drafted in 2002. He was a Midwest League All-Star with the Dayton Dragons in 2003 and later became the 22nd Dragons player to play in the Major Leagues. He is big league catcher Ryan Hanigan.
In the spring of 2002, Hanigan's team at
Hanigan returned to the Dragons in 2003, initially as the team's back-up catcher before earning the starting job and playing in the MWL All-Star Game. He finished the year at .277 in 92 games and showed solid defensive skills behind the plate.
Hanigan moved on to the Carolina League in 2004 and posted a 22-game hitting streak, the longest in the league that season. He hit .296 in 119 games and earned a promotion to Double-A Chattanooga for 2005. With the Lookouts, Hanigan hit .321 to rank second in the Southern League and was rewarded with a non-roster invitation to Major League spring training with the Reds in '06.
Hanigan spent most of 2006 back in
Hanigan was back at
Hanigan spent almost all of 2009 with the Reds and led National League catchers in fielding percentage. He also threw out an outstanding 39 percent of opposing base stealers. He batted .263. In 2010, Hanigan split time with Ramon Hernandez at the catcher position and hit a career high .300 in 70 games. He also started game two of the National League Division Series against the Phillies.
Hanigan saw his playing time increase again in 2011, appearing in 91 games while batting .267 and connecting on six home runs. Then in 2012, he hit .274 in 112 games for the Reds. He also started four of the team's five playoff games. Hanigan threw out 49 percent of opposing base stealers to lead the National League (the league average was 27 percent). On September 28, he was behind the plate for Homer Bailey's no-hitter, the first for a Reds pitcher since 1988.
In 2013, Hanigan caught Bailey's second career no-hitter and was the Reds starting catcher in their playoff matchup with the Pirates. Injuries limited him to just 75 games and he batted .198 but threw out 45 percent of attempted base stealers, enjoying another outstanding year defensively.
On November 12, 2013, the Reds signed veteran free agent catcher Brayan Pena. The addition of Pena to the roster, coupled with the return of 25-year-old former Dragon Devin Mesoraco, gave the Reds three catchers with two spots available. On December 3, Hanigan was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays in a three-team deal that brought starting pitching prospect David Holmberg to
In a story at mlb.com by Mark Sheldon, Reds General Manager Walt Jocketty discussed the deal.
"This gives Mesoraco the opportunity to develop into a No. 1, frontline catcher that we think he can be," Jocketty said. "Pena will be a quality backup and good bat off of the bench. It gives Devin the chance for more playing time."
"It was tough to trade Hanigan," Jocketty said. "It got to the point where we had one year before he became a free agent. Sometimes, you have to make some tough business decisions you don't like to make. Hani did terrific job for this organization. Everybody really likes him as a person, as well as a player. We also tried to keep in mind places where he might want to play. I know
Hanigan is now 33 years old and has beaten the odds facing every non-drafted free agent to not only play in the Major Leagues, but to also enjoy a sustained career in which he has improved to the point of becoming a trusted starter at his position. He has continued to improve as the seasons have gone by, meeting every challenge.
"He had to make his own opportunities, and he has," comments Mark Katz of the Dayton Daily News.
In a story by Hal McCoy at foxsportsohio.com, Reds former Reds manager Dusty Baker summed up Hanigan's climb. "He didn't have any money invested in him so he had to impress and he still had to wait his turn," Baker said. "He had to jump over some guys, but I liked him the first day I saw him in camp."
Click Here for Ryan Hanigan's Major League statistics, photos, and video clips.
Click Here for Ryan Hanigan's Minor League Statistics