One position that was a major issue for the White Sox in 2013 that wasn’t addressed in the offseason was catcher. The three catchers that played a most of the season combined for a .198 average.
Tyler Flowers, Josh Phegley, and Hector Gimenez started behind the plate in all but six games last season. There were rumors afloat in the off-season that the Sox were trying to trade for a catcher from the Tampa Bay Rays. Whether the talks fell through or the White Sox convinced themselves that Flowers or Phegley can rebound, those are the catchers they plan to start the season with.
On Saturday Manager Robin Ventura gave the fan base a hint as to which way he is leaning for a starting catcher. He announced that Tyler Flowers is going to start the first spring training game against the Dodgers on Friday.
“We know what we get with Tyler, and I like the way he calls games,” said Ventura Saturday.
Going into Flowers’ first season as a starter, pitchers complement him often on his size (giving pitchers a bigger target to throw to). They also bragged about how he called games as well. He proceeded to only hit for a .195 average, 10 home runs, and 94 strike outs. As a career .200 hitter, it doesn’t seem like Flowers will turn the offense around but will give a solid glove behind the plate. Hector Gimenez will likely start the season out with triple A Charlotte Knights.
The possible surprise in camp could be Rule 5 Draft pick Adrian Nieto. This is his first run through a major league training camp, but the 24 year-old switch hitting Cuban has to make the 25 man roster for the White Sox otherwise they will lose him back to the Nationals. In the Carolina League last season, Nieto hit .285, 11 home runs, and 82 strike outs in 390 at bats.
The career .254 minor league hitter, according to the Rule 5 Draft rules on MLB.com must stay on the 25 man roster the entire season. His biggest advantage, if he can hit like he did in the minors, is the fact he’s a switch hitter. It isn’t a secret that the Sox lack left handed hitters, so if he can provide any production from the left side it would a positive.
The catching position was pretty much a nightmare last season. It seems like the coaching staff is asking Tyler Flowers to lead the young catching crew into the 2014 season. The fan base is hoping that they can improve even a little compared to 2013 because it’d be hard to be worse.