Angels Expectations by Position: Catcher

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Feb 28, 2014; Tempe, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Angels catcher Jett Bandy (98) jogs to home plate a home run with teammates in the eighth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Tempe Diablo Stadium. The Los Angeles Angels won the game 15-3. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Potential Backups

Only one of the following catchers will earn the backup spot going into the season but I expect all three to see some time their over the course of the season unless Drew Butera is released to clear up a forty man roster spot.

First up we’ll look at Butera. In many ways he may remind fans of Jeff Mathis. Yes, you may have just experienced a chill down your spine at thinking Scioscia has found himself another weak hitting backstop to continually run out behind the dish. In five seasons Butera owns a line of .183/.239/.268. Maybe we can DH for him instead of the pitcher. 

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Why would the Halos trade for this hole in the lineup? The same reason Mathis is a long employed backstop. His defense is very good. A good pitch framer, who based off last years stats, will gain his pitchers 0.6 strikes per game over Ianetta and will throw out about 33% of base stealers. He’s maintained employment over the past 5 years because clubs recognize the value in a defensive catcher and us fans should not forget that value either.

Thankfully, the veteran Butera will be facing stiff competition from two young players in Spring Training, Carlos Perez and Jett Bandy.

Carlos Perez, 24, was aquired from Huston in the Conger trade and has some good upside for a backup catcher. He has never appeared in the big leagues and owns a .277/.359/.393 line in seven minor league season. He went on a

Feb 21, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; Houston Astros catcher Carlos Perez (76) poses for a picture during photo day at Osceola County Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

tear this winter while playing in the Venezuelan League hitting .331/.368/.507. If those numbers translate to spring training he’d be a shoo-in for the backup job.

Scouts praise his defensive capabilities noting good movement behind the plate to go along with a quick release and strong arm. If he can find a way to be near average with the bat he’ll be an excellent backup and possible future replacement for Ianetta.

Another possible future starting catcher is the angels prospect also in the running for best name in the organization (Bo Way is the other), Jett Bandy. The Arkansas Travelers are where promising Angels bats go to die. Dickey-Stevens Park is rated as the most offensively oppressive park in the difficult Texas League. So when Jett Bandy went there and increased his power, BA and OBP it’s a feat to be aware of. Power is the best part of Bandy’s offense as shown by his 13 HR in only 93 games in the Texas League last season.

Bandy has always been known for a strong arm and when he gunned down a whopping 40% of wannabe base stealers in AA last season we understand he’s the real deal capable of shutting down a teams running game.

Halo Hangout staff writer Trey Hannula did an excellent profile of the battle between Perez and Bandy and delves deeper into their potential offerings. At the time of his writing Carlos Perez was yet to display his strong Winter League numbers which have swayed me to lean a bit towards the more experienced Perez but the backup catcher role will ultimately be decided in a couple months when Butera, Perez and Bandy face some major league talent in Arizona.

In Conclusion — Barring injury or trade, fans will see about 2/3’s of the games started by Chris Ianetta. He’ll be a slightly below average defensive catcher with an above average bat supported mainly by his exceptional eye producing a strong OBP. The backup role will go to a strong defensive catcher. If that’s Butera we’ll cringe every time he’s at the plate and if it’s Perez or Bandy we’ll see if they can translate their offensive potential to the show. At some point expect both Bandy and Perez to extend their battle to the Majors this season. Hopefully the two of them will show enough to take over all catching duties after Ianetta’s contract is up at the end the year.

All-in-all the Angels look set with a catching corps capable of being quite good given the standards set by the league.