Wilin Rosario

Rockies are Taking A Big Risk at Catcher


There is little doubt about the Rockies’ starting catcher; the job is Chris Iannetta’s to lose. If this sounds familiar, it’s because we’ve heard it before. Chris was the team’s Opening Day catcher in 2007, 2009, and 2010, but has yet to maintain the job throughout an entire season. He’s talented, but has always had difficulty staying on an even keel when faced with adversity. When he struggled in the past, the Rockies had the option of playing Yorvit Torrealba or Miguel Olivo. This year, the Rockies entered Spring Training with no other viable alternative to Iannetta. If he falters, Colorado will have to ride it out or make a move for another catcher.

The Rox have seven catchers in the Big League camp, but will only keep two on the 25 man roster. The group consists of three journey men, three prospects, and Iannetta. Aside from Iannetta, none are in a position to help the club next year. Regardless, I’m going to discuss the situation with each player.

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia

Chris Iannetta — It’s interesting that Chris’s best year was in 2008, the only season since 2006 that he wasn’t the Opening Day starter. That doesn’t bode well for Chris, especially since he has more pressure on him this year than ever. The Rox are all in with him as the starter. No one is worried about Chris’s defense or signal calling, but he has to improve upon last year’s .701 OPS. He is vital to the 2011 season, perhaps more than any other player on the roster.

Photo Courtesy of Flickr

Jose Morales — The Rockies acquired Morales in an off-season trade with the Twins. He has been a professional for a decade, but only has 181 Major League plate appearances. He is a light hitter and an average defender. If Morales receives significant playing time next season, the Rockies will be in bad shape.

Chad Moeller — Moeller made his big league debut in 2000. Since then, he has had 1539 plate appearances and only 29 home runs. He is a career .226 hitter, with a .640 OPS. He is also a below average defender. There is no room for Moeller anywhere in the Rockies’ system. The best thing they could do is make him a AAA coach so he can work with catching prospects.

Mike McKenry

Mike McKenry — McKenry was a September call up last season, but failed to get a hit in eight at-bats. In Colorado Springs, he hit .265 with 10 homeruns. While McKenry is a solid game manager, he has a below average throwing arm. He only threw out 29% of attempted base stealers last year. The Rockies will have to decide if they want him as the team’s back up or if they want to send him back to Colorado Springs so he can play every day. If the Rox want Jordan Pacheco and Wilin Rosario in AAA, McKenry might earn a spot on the roster.

Matt Pagnozzi — Last year, Pagnozzi started 12 games for the Cardinals. Don’t be fooled by his .359 batting average. Over eight minor league seasons, Pagnozzi is a career .214 hitter. I doubt he’ll make much of a contribution.

Photo Courtesy of Jordan Megenhardt/MLB.com

Jordan Pacheco — This will be Pacheco’s second Major League Spring Training. Last year, he made quite an impression on Jim Tracy. Pacheco only recently moved to catcher and still needs a lot of work defensively, but he can flat out rake. Since entering the Rockies’ system, he is a .310 hitter with an .824 OPS. In college, Jordan played second base and has played some third with the Rockies. Because of Wilin Rosario, his future may be as a super utility player.

Wilin Rosario — Simply put, Rosario is the Rockies’ future behind the plate. If not for a torn ACL last season, he would be a legitimate threat to unseat Iannetta this spring. He is that good. Rosario is a skilled defender with an excellent throwing arm. In his minor league career, he has gunned down over 40% of attempted base stealers, while displaying a penchant for picking off runners at first. He can also hit. Last year with Tulsa, he hit 19 bombs in just 270 at-bats. Because of his knee, the Rox are taking it slow with Wilin, but he will probably be a September call up. I’m predicting that he will be the Rockies’ starting catcher in 2012.

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Tags: Chad Moeller Chris Iannetta Jim Tracy Jordan Pacheco Jose Morales Matt Pagnozzi Miguel Olivo Mike McKenry Modesto Nuts Opening Day Rockies Starting Catcher September Call-Ups Spring Training Tulsa Drillers Wilin Rosario Yorvit Torrealba

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  • Andrew

    Reward without risk? You have to respect the decisions the Rockies have made in helping develop a great thinking/hitting players Like Jordan Pacheco. By the Rockies helping to develop his game to a position where he can elevate the Rockies level of play to achieve the ultimate goal in Baseball. By taking notice of a positive thinking players an organization can accelerate itself into a level of play beyond any team. I believe that is what the Rockies organization is doing with this player as well as other players who live on the positive side of the curve!

    GO ROCKIES!!!

    • Logan Burdine

      Andrew, thanks for the comment!

      You make a good point. This organization obviously places a premium on loyalty, and, more often than not, it pays off.

      • Andrew Leyba

        Hey Logan,

        Your Welcome.

        The organization sure has shown loyalty over time with various players. I think its pretty cool that the Rockies look at some of these guys and give them stability for the long term. I see a lot of depth on this team.
        With so many good players in the world today it has got to be really tough to see and pick the great ones. When I watch triple a ball and interviews it is always interesting to see the way different players think. Ultimately it has a huge impact on where they end up. I really believe the Rockies have someone paying attention to this based on the way they preform year in year out and who they trade. I think the Rockies do it a little different than most teams. It is going to be an exiting season I am really looking forward to getting up there and checking out some games.

        Andrew

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