Orioles 2020 spring training preview: Catchers

Next Tuesday, our long baseball hibernation will come to an end, when pitchers and catchers report to Sarasota, FL to begin the Baltimore Orioles 2020 season.

Coming off a 108-loss season, little is expected of this year’s Orioles team, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be anything to get excited about.

Leading up to spring training and beyond, The Baltimore Battery will preview each position group and give fans a rundown of what to watch for while the team is in the Sunshine State. We begin today with catchers!

When we take a look at the Orioles’ catchers, the discussion really begins and ends with Major League Baseball’s fourth rated prospect, 2020 No. 1 overall pick Adley Rutschman.

While the team’s star of the future will certainly give fans something to cheer for this spring training, there is virtually no chance that he makes the trip north with the club in late March. Let’s go through the catchers that will man the backstop at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota this spring.

Non-Roster Invites:

Courtesy DelmarvaNow

Adley Rutschman – Rutschman is the guy every Oriole fan wants to see this spring. We will not spend much time going into the young backstop here, as he will be one of our Prospect Profiles in the future. The chances of Rutschman making the team are very, very slim, unless the team wishes to start his service time in what is likely another rebuilding season.

Taylor Davis – Davis has been in the Chicago Cubs system since signing as an undrafted free-agent in 2011, finally making it to the majors in 2017. Over the last three seasons, Davis has garnered only 36 at-bats, batting .222 and hitting one home run. Runners have stolen 13 bases on Davis, and he has thrown out none. Davis will likely spend the season in the minors.

Courtesy Marlin Maniac

Bryan Holaday – Holaday finds himself with his sixth major league team in nine seasons. The Orioles signed Holaday January 13, 2020, and invited him to spring training.

There was a time that Holaday was a well-regarded catching prospect. The right-hander won the Johnny Bench Award as the nation’s top collegiate catcher following the 2010 season, prompting the Detroit Tigers to draft him in the sixth round that year.

In 2012 Holaday became the third player from the 2010 draft to reach the majors, following Bryce Harper and Kole Calhoun. Since then, Holaday has bounced between the majors and minors for Detroit, Texas, Boston, and Miami (he was signed by Philadelphia but opted out of his contract before playing.)

In 671 major league at-bats, Holaday has a .241 average with 10 home runs. Over his career, Holaday has thrown out 30% of baserunners and is a long shot to make the roster, barring injuries to multiple catchers.

Martin Červenka – Červenka is a Czech baseball player that was selected by the Orioles in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft in 2017 from the San Fransisco Giants.

The right-handed batting catcher has represented the Czech Republic in a number of international events, including the 2017 World Baseball Classic. Červenca made it to Triple-A Norfolk in 2019, batting .372 in his 49 at-bats.

In his nine minor league seasons, Červenka has batted .240 with 36 home runs in 1,880 at-bats. Červenka’s ceiling is as a back-up catcher but most likely a 4A-type player. He is a long shot to make the team.

Rostered Players:

Courtesy MASN Sports

Pedro Severino– The Orioles were happy with what they saw in Severino last year offensively, even after his struggles in the second half.

Severino finished the season with a .249 batting average and 13 home runs in 305 at-bats. During the second half, however, Severino hit just .221 with four home runs.

The 26-year-old out of the Dominican batted 100 points better on the road than at home in nearly the same amount of at-bats. He also threw out 24% of runners attempting to steal on him last year.

Severino figures to platoon behind the plate with Chance Sisco, with each garnering nearly equal at-bats, unless one or the other really takes off.

Courtesy Baltimore Sun

Chance Sisco – Coming into the 2017 season, Chance Sisco was the Orioles top rated prospect, and the departure of Matt Wieters seemed to signal that the former second round pick’s time was coming.

The Chance Sisco story, however, has been filled with unreached potential. Known as a strong hitter that needed work behind the plate, Sisco’s bat began to fail him once he reached Triple-A.

Throughout his time in the majors, Sisco has batted a miniscule .203 but has shown some pop, hitting 12 home runs in 345 at-bats. His struggles behind the plate have continued, as Sisco has thrown out just 23% of the 77 runners that have attempted to steal against him.

Unless Sisco is able to rediscover his top prospect batting stroke, he is likely to spend the year in a strict platoon with Severino, seeing the bulk of at-bats versus right-handed pitchers.

Austin Wynns– Since being drafted in the tenth round of the 2013 draft, Wynns has spent time in each level of the Orioles farm system, before making his major league debut in June of 2018.

Over the past two seasons, Wynns has garnered 280 at-bats, batting .239 with five home runs. He  has thrown out 28% of the runners attempting to steal against him and is likely to spend most of his time in Norfolk, filling in if either catcher gets injured, or if Severino is forced into DH duty.

Final Take: The team will have seven catchers in Florida this spring, but all eyes will be on one. Severino and Sisco are the two most likely to break north, with Holaday and Wynns an injury away. Rutschman is likely to spend some time at Single-A and Double-A this season, or further depending on his development. Červenka and Davis will fill in wherever needed in the Orioles farm system.

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