In this piece we will take a look at the state of the catcher position in the White Sox system both on the major and minor league system. I’ll take a look at what is in the majors now and what could be coming through the system. As of the time of this writing the starting and only major league catcher is Welington Castillo, missing a large chunk of the 2018 season due to a PED suspension and his age hints that he may not be part of the long term. He is signed for 2019 and has a 2020 team option that I can’t believe will be picked up.
So that leads to the question who will be the man calling plays for the Sox going forward? A look at the system leads you to the well known Zach Collins and the lesser known Seby Zavala. Collins spent the 2018 season in double A Birmingham catching 122 games in his first full season with the team after the Sox drafted him 10th overall in 2016. In 152 professional games Zach has hit 25 home runs and had 120 walks. The worry about Zach’s game is on the defensive side of the game, scouts say he has just average strength and sloppy footwork but if he can improve that his high accuracy can raise all his value, he caught 39 percent of baserunners in 2017. Many speculated that Collins may be better suited as a first baseman due to his lack of defensive catching skills, the White Sox are doing everything they can to keep him at catcher, widening his defensive setup, he will probably start off the year in Charlotte and has a 2020 major league ETA.
The other in house option is Seby Zavala, Seby was a 12th round draft pick in 2015 who played a combined 104 games between double and triple A last season. Zavala saw a power uptick tripling his home runs from his first to second due to a change in his launch angle. He finds most of his power to the pull side hitting about 40 percent of his batted balls there. Like Collins, Zavala isn’t known for his defense and projects more as an offensive backup as his blocking, receiving, and has a slow release and just average arm strength. I could see Zavala filling the backup role on the big club in 2019, but does not project to be the starter going forward.
So as you can see the catchers are worrisome, both of the prospects are defensively inefficient and with a young staff who can at times have a hard time finding the plate making sure balls don’t get behind you and being able to detour runners from trying to take advantage of you on the base paths are paramount. I think the White Sox will have to go out of the organization either via trade or free agency to fortify this position when they are ready to start competing. There are 2 intriguing options still available in this free agent class with Yasmani Grandal and Wilson Ramos available, although Yasmani Grandal does have a qualifying offer from the Dodgers so if the White Sox sign him they will lose a pick to the Dodgers as compensation. The trade option is out there, but with the biggest name, JT Realmuto, being rumored to the Mets the market is shirking and shrinking fast. It will be interesting to see what the White Sox do with the catcher position with the 2020 free agent cupboard also looking thin, with Austin Romine and Adrian Nietro being the only possible intriguing names.
Thanks for reading and as always let us know what you think in the comments section or on Twitter @SidedSox.