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Diamondback Catchers in 2022

The D-backs have many potential catchers.

Amarillo catcher Jose Herrera in Aloha shirt.
Amarillo catcher Jose Herrera in Aloha shirt.
Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images

The Diamondbacks have four players on the 40-man who can play catcher. Despite injuries, because of last season’s hitting breakout Carson Kelly is a lock for the primary catcher position.

One of four on the roster is Cooper Hummel.

In 2021, his .432 OBP ranked 7th in minors, and his .978 OPS ranked 10th in minors per this article. Also, he hit for the cycle in AAA.

His position versatility is valued by the Diamondbacks.

He ranked as the fifth best Diamondbacks prospect per my personal ranking. Opinions differ; for example FanGraphs ranked him 28th. [I updated my personal list and he is currently eighth best.] — Makakilo

Two potential catchers (Daulton Varsho and Cooper Hummel) could contribute more defensive runs to the team by playing in the outfield. It’s possible that David Peralta gets traded and Pavin Smith moves to first base. In that case Varsho and Hummel move full-time to the corner outfield positions.

The fourth catcher on the 40-man roster is Jose Herrera. The backup catcher position may be his to lose depending on his performance.

If Herrera under performs, or if injuries happen, five players in the minors could be called up to play catcher. Two players (Juan Grateral and Juan Centeno) are experienced league-average catchers who are 32 years old. Renae Martinez could be called up from AAA. Dominic Miroglio and Andy Yerzy could be called up from AA.

Let’s compare these nine catchers. The following chart shows age, my estimated comparison OPS, pedigree, a plus, and a minus. Two explanations are needed. My estimated OPS was based on their level of play – career average OPS in Majors, AAA Reno OPS minus .330 (based on this AZ Snake Pit article), and AA OPS minus .130.

Data from Baseball Reference, Jack Sommers, Baseball Savant, The Fielding Bible, Michael McDermott, MiLB.com, B. Gawlowski & E. Longenhagen, and FanGraphs.

Of the players who could be called up from the minors, the most exciting would be Andy Yerzy. At 23 years old, he is the youngest of the nine players. Of those who could be called up, only Andy Yerzy has pedigree because he was drafted in the second round (as were Carson Kelly and Daulton Varsho). However, he has not played above AA and if he stayed in the minors he could focus on continuing to mature and improve. The Diamondbacks have some talented players who could possibly play catcher or could possibly play other positions, but who have not yet played at the AA level. They include Adrian Del Castillo (16th best Diamondback prospect in my personal spreadsheet of prospects), Nick Delesandro, Caleb Roberts, Ramses Malave, JJ D’Orazio, Shane Muntz, and Oscar Santos.

Of the players who could be called up from the minors, the next most exciting are Renae Martinez and Dominic Miroglio. Martinez has an edge in batting and Miroglio has an edge in defense. Wesley Bier interviewed Dominic Miroglio in this AZ Snake Pit article. At that time one of his areas of focus was game calling.

“Jeff Bajenaru has helped me a lot this year on game planning opposing hitters. What to look for, what numbers are important, where their weaknesses are, etc.” — Dominic Miroglio

Of the players who could be called up from the minors, the two safest are Juan Graterol and Juan Centeno because they have played in the Majors. Graterol has a slight edge in defense and Centeno has an edge in batting. Perhaps one will outshine the other in spring training.

My intuition is that the Diamondbacks will pick one of the safe choices for two reasons:

  • The safe choices have proven their performance is about average. Picking them is unlikely to result in underperformance due to inexperience.
  • The prospects will have more time to develop. The prospects will continue to be highly motivated because the safe choices are much older and will not block promotion of a younger player.