Prospect Preview: 2013 Catchers
We continue our look at potential 2013 Fisher Cats with a look at the men who could find themselves behind the plate. Last year, top prospect A.J. Jimenez was among the cavalry of catchers used by the Fisher Cats during the 2012 campaign. In total, eight different players caught games last season due to injuries and promotions throughout the year.
In 2013, a bundle of familiar names could find their way back to the Granite State. Jimenez, who saw his season end last May due to Tommy John Surgery, is already back to work with the Blue Jays in major league spring training. Ranked No. 11 in the Blue Jays minor leagues by MLB.com, Jimenez hit .257 for the Fisher Cats last year before his injury. The 2011 Dunedin Blue Jays MVP, Jimenez was able to show why he's one of the top-ranked defensive catchers in the minors. At the time of his injury, he led the Eastern League by throwing out 55 percent of would-be base stealers. During the off-season, the Puerto Rico native was added to the Blue Jays 40-man roster.
When Jimenez went down, Sean Ochinko was called up to replace him. While not known for his defensive prowess, having played multiple positions in his Blue Jays minor league career, Ochinko improved his skills behind the plate thanks to hands-on tutelage from manager (and former major league catcher) Sal Fasano. Ochinko has built his reputation with his bat, and he smacked eight home runs in 59 games. Like Jimenez, his season was plagued by injuries. After playing in the Arizona Fall League, Ochinko is currently working with the major leaguers in Dunedin, Fla.
Like Ochinko, the word off-season hasn't totally applied to Jack Murphy. After spending most of 2012 in Dunedin - outside of an eight-game stint with the Fisher Cats - Murphy jetted to the land down under to participate in the Australian Baseball League. Serving as the primary catcher for the Canberra Cavalry, Murphy hit .304 and was a key cog as Canberra won its first ABL title. State-side last year, Murphy hit .223 with the D-Jays sandwiched around a .333 average and two home runs during his short stint in New Hampshire.
One final potential Fisher Cats catcher this year would be yet another returning player. Pierce Rankin split his 2012 season among three levels - Lansing, Dunedin, and New Hampshire - appearing in 28 total games. The bulk of his time came in Florida where he hit .292 with a home run in 17 games. He was hitless in his only appearance with the Fisher Cats on June 15 at Bowie.
Up Next: OF Kevin Pillar