We all know who the starting catcher is for the KC Royals. That will be Salvador Perez. But who will be his backup?
The Royals acquired Erik Kratz from Toronto at the July trading deadline last season and he immediately became the Royals backup. Many expect him to return to that role in 2015, something he has done throughout his big league career.
There are two candidates in camp.
One is Franciso Pena, the son of former Royals manager Tony Pena. Pena had a career year in 2014 with Triple-A Omaha (27 home runs and 61 RBIs), but hit just .214 in August with 14 strikeouts (compared to just one walk).
Pena then went home to the Dominican Republic to play winter ball and struggled both offensively and defensively. He hit just .161 in 29 games with 30 strikeouts. He also had at least four errors and three passed balls.
Pena could use more seasoning in Triple-A.
The other candidate is minor league veteran JC Boscan, who spent most of his 18 year career with the team that originally signed him out of Venezuela, the Atlanta Braves (from 1996-2005 and 2009-2012). He finally made his Major League debut back on October 1, 2010. He was a minor league teammate of Pena’s older brother TJ during his first stint with the Braves.
Boscan has been known more for his defense than his offense (just a career .221 hitter over 1233 minor league games) and should be a great mentor for Pena. He should also be a great help to some of the young pitchers in camp and in Omaha (if he accepts an assignment there out of spring training).
The other catchers in camp are really there just to experience a big league spring training and to catch the plethora of pitchers in camp. Parker Morin has struggled to hit in the minor leagues and played most of last season in Double-A (with time in Omaha late in the season and the playoffs). I expect him back with NW Arkansas this season.
Cam Gallagher and Zane Evans also struggled offensively in 2014. Evans has the better bat, but needs more work behind the plate. Gallagher has the better glove, but needs more work with the bat. Both should learn a lot this spring and both could potentially be back in Wilmington this season, though I see one of them starting in Double-A.
Tomorrow, I will take a look at the infielders.