The youngest catcher for the Legends, Marquez is a defensive specialist in-the-making (photo Clinton Riddle)

First Impressions 2013 Lexington Legends Catchers

Gallagher runs the show behind the dish in Lexington (photo Clinton Riddle)

Following up from my previous post on the infielders at The Bank, here’s a look at what’s going on behind the plate for our latest Legends squad.

As any baseball enthusiast worth his/her salt would know, a large part of building strong defense involves having a catcher who knows his craft well. A strong arm, quick reflexes, and an understanding of the opposing hitters’ weaknesses are all important components of a catcher’s game. Weakness in any one of these areas can often be overcome, though any catcher must know how to call a game effectively in order to avoid getting bumped to first or third (for example).

With that in mind, the Legends of 2013 are firmly set at catcher. I’ve covered our three current catchers on my blog in short blurbs, though KoK will provide more frequently updated info on their site. It all starts with Cameron Gallagher:

Cam Gallagher

2012 (@ Burlington)

36 games, 139 PA, 13 runs, 35 hits, 10 doubles, 3 HR, 15 RBI, .276 BA, .756 OPS

Gallagher behind the plate (photo Clinton Riddle)

A rather large specimen for a catcher at 6’3”, Gallagher certainly uses his size to his utmost advantage. A quiet, lead-by-example type, his leadership is nevertheless felt on the field. At this stage he hasn’t yet peaked, but his first year in full-season ball will go a long way to his development. As to whether he can stand the rigors of full-time work behind the dish, we’ll see how this year pans out.

In terms of batting, Gallagher has enough pop to knock 15-18 over the fence this year; in the coming years he should certainly develop ML-average power for the position, batting near-league average or just over (around .270). He hasn’t shown much interest in walking, but neither has he struck out a great deal. In 70 career games in the minors, he’s walked 21 times against 36 strikeouts in 282 PA. He goes to the plate looking to swing, and odds are very good that he’s going to put the ball in play. In 25 at-bats this year he’s gone down on strikes once.

He can handle the running game rather well; in 5 games this year he’s thrown out 7 of 11 would-be thieves, which is a very small sample size but indicative of his awareness and arm strength. He fared much worse in 2012, with a paltry 26% caught-stealing percentage, but I see that as being more a matter of adjusting to pro ball.

Also something to keep in mind: Gallagher’s pedigree is excellent. An Aflac All-American after his junior year in high school, he was drafted in the 2nd round in 2011. His brother Austin plays in the Dodgers system and his father Glenn pitched for the Jays organization after being drafted in the 3rd round in 1981.

Shin Jin-Ho

Shin on the field (photo Clinton Riddle)

The 21 year-old Korean native (the first Korean-born player in Royals history) is a sizable backstop, as well. At 6’2”, 200, Shin is fairly mobile and can block in the dirt reasonable well. His lateral movement could use some work, and he may never be more than fringe-average in terms of quickness and agility. In 143 career minor-league games he has thrown out only 20% of stolen base attempts, a figure that alone could doom him to backup duty permanently without serious improvement. He has also made 23 errors and allowed 33 passed balls in 142 games behind the plate; also, a number that relegates him to the bench.

He has shown a little bit of power in his four seasons of pro ball, with 31 doubles and 13 homers in 175 total games, and he has both the time and the physical ability to develop more. He will likely always strike out more than you’d care to see, but it should be noted that Shin is thought of more highly than his numbers might suggest he should be. As he is only 21 this year, and since it traditionally takes a bit longer for catchers to progress up the ladder, I’ll take a ‘wait and see’ attitude with him. He has enough of an eye at the plate to cut down on the Ks and perhaps draw a few more walks, but thus far his ceiling appears to be as a steady backup to a starter who rarely misses his turn.

Alexander Marquez

2012 (@ Burlington):

21 games, 51 PA, 6 hits, 0 doubles, 0 HR, 4 RBI, .143 BA

OK, first off: he was 19 in 2012, he made it into only 21 games as a sub, and didn’t exactly have many opportunities to prove himself. In 2011 he made it into 17 games as catcher while the AZL Royals used 5 other catchers at different times throughout the season. Even now, he appears forever stuck behind Shin and Gallagher, and that isn’t going to change anytime soon.

Marquez is the youngest catcher on the roster (at 20), and has been the bullpen catcher for the Legends thus far. He has plenty of time to grow and develop, assuming there’s a spot open ahead of him.

On pure numbers, he’s well ahead of Shin. In 60 games at the position he’s made 7 errors (though this comes along with 22 passed balls), and apart from an abysmal year in 2010 when as a 17 year-old first-year player runners stole on him at will, he has thrown out over 30 percent of attempted thefts.

Beyond this, I cannot speak intelligently on his other abilities; I have not seen him in any capacity other than in the ‘pen.

So there we are. Long story short: Gallagher could be one of the better catchers in the SAL, though perhaps not an All-Star quite yet. Shin is still a couple of years away from a real breakthrough, offensively. Marquez is blocked by the two of them, for now, but deserves a shot at least as a defensive late-inning sub. 

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Tags: Alexander Marquez Cameron Gallagher Jin-Ho Shin Kansas City Royals Lexington Legends

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