The KC Royals have two likely options to take the backup catcher spot and at the moment in spring training, it could still be anyone’s position.
The KC Royals’ spring training is moving right along and fans are starting to see players round out and make their cases to be part of the opening day lineup. There will still be plenty of players who won’t be in Kansas City on opening day, but at the moment, some positional battles are still pretty unclear as to who will take the position.
While it’s understood that Salvador Perez will be the starting catcher for the Royals during the regular season, he isn’t going to catch every game. He may see less than previous years even, with the team trying to ease him back into the role and save him from further injury, proving the importance of a strong backup catcher.
Assuming the Royals stick with catchers on the roster who have some major league experience, the backup role will more than likely be filled by either Meibrys Viloria or Cam Gallagher. Both players have seen time with the Royals in Kansas City, and have seen their share of struggle offensively too.
So far in spring training, while there is plenty of time to go, Cam Gallagher looks to be taking the lead offensively. Over 8 games, he has 21 plate appearances, 7 hits, 2 runs, 2 doubles, 3 RBIs and is slashing .333/.333/.429. His numbers look good, but the question will remain as to whether or not he can maintain them.
In 2019, over 45 games he slashed .238/.312/.365, a decent way off from his start to spring training.
Viloria has seen a similar amount of spring training time, appearing in 9 games with 17 plate appearances, recording 4 hits, 1 run and slashing .267/.353/.267. He is starting off a bit slow, but like Gallagher, his spring training numbers (other than slugging) are a little better than 2019 when he slashed .211/.259/.286.
There is still time left in spring training for both of these players to progress or decline, and just one or two spring training games can make a complete difference in stats. Games are moving quickly though, and the team will have to make a decision soon as to who will go to Kansas City, and who will not.
According to FanGraphs, both Viloria and Gallagher have a minor league option remaining, which does help to give the Royals some flexibility in the decisions. With Viloria being much younger, the Royals may see it as an opportunity to send him down and allow him to develop more in the minors, especially if Gallagher continues to hit well throughout the rest of the spring.
Both players have their strength and have shown they can stand defensively at the major league level, they just need to prove offensively now. The decision may be difficult for the Royals, but it shouldn’t be too long before a backup catcher is decided for the regular season.
Who would you like to see backing up Perez this season? Let us know in the comments.