2012 Rockies Position Preview: Catcher
The catching position for the 2012 Rockies is not one of the more intriguing position battles with Ramon Hernandez being the starter from the moment he was signed. Hernandez has done nothing but help himself in keeping the job, getting glowing reviews for his ability to handle a young pitching staff and provide veteran leadership that the Rockies organization values very highly. He also brings a strong offensive resume along with him that includes being the current active leader for career home runs by a catcher, that is until Ivan Rodriguez makes a comeback somewhere. The 36 year old Hernandez fits well into a largely veteran clubhouse and brings familiarity with Jeremy Guthrie who he caught 44 times in Baltimore, as well as fitting into the large group of Venezuelan players on the Rockies.
Wilin Rosario seems to have the backup job locked up, but he could start the season in AAA Colorado Springs if the Rockies feel his game calling and defense needs more work than 2-3 starts a week for the big club would provide. Rosario has had problem hitting breaking balls in the past, but his .471/.486/.824 slash line in spring training would indicate that Rosario is ready for at least a shot to stick with the Rockies for 2012. As the catcher of the future it would probably serve Rosario better to be with the Rockies and learn all he can from Ramon Hernandez until he is ready to take over the full time job.
If Rosario does start the season in AAA, Wil Nieves would probably be the back-up catcher, and is looking like the next man up if either Hernandez or Rosario have to miss any time along the way. Nieves is your typical 3rd string catcher, playing in 282 career MLB games from 2002-2011 with an unimpressive .221/.268/.289 slash line, but providing strong defense along the way.
The real wildcard here is Jordan Pacheco and how the Rockies choose to use him. Jim Tracy loves his players to be versatile so it seems very unlikely that Pacheco will be the number two catcher with Rosario going to the minors. If Pacheco does make the opening day roster, which he probably will as a super utility type, he provides to Rockies with the option to use their backup catcher as a pinch hitter and not be left in a “Neifi Perez emergency Catcher” situation.