Spring Training is a beloved tradition, then surely there are smaller, more distinctly defined mini traditions. The perennial positional question marks a fan sees on their team, be it in the bullpen, starting rotation or INF/OF is surely one of the more fun, or sometimes hideous, mini traditions. By "question mark", it's guys that could make a difference on this team, soon or later in the year, and/or surprise everyone with a roster spot. These days, as i'm sure you've read/heard, there are plenty of question marks in pretty much every category of personnel. Oh.
Last time out, I focused on the bullpen and Victor Alcantara, but this time around i'm going to touch on the catcher spot. Catcher is a premium position for Mike Scioscia and the Angels, and while they have a ton of them in the system right now, there's really one guy who I can consider my favorite catcher question mark: Jett Bandy.
I suppose you could make the case for Carlos Perez being my favorite catcher question mark of 2016, mainly because i'm so excited to see what he can do when getting a full workload, as well as having some experience under his belt. But i'm optimistic about him enough that I don't see his playing time or possible contributions as a question mark. I definitely don't buy the words from Mike Scioscia from last week, in which he said catcher is wide open right now, and nobody's got the job on lockdown. Perez will be on that 25 man roster, and if his projections are anywhere near being correct, he's going to catch a TON of pitches this year.
That's understandable, though, when you see his backup is the aging vet Geovany Soto, who apparently has a tough time throwing the baseball back to the pitcher, let alone catching anybody stealing. The one thing Soto will have going for him in this system is the always-tenable Scioscia metric, Veteran Grittiness. Next man up, though, is my main man Jett Bandy. If there is any sense of age catching up to Soto in Spring Training or during the season, you can bet they're going to be looking towards Jett Bandy to back up head catching honcho Carlos Perez.
Let's not get ahead of ourselves: first Bandy has to have a good Spring and show that he's progressing and developing into an MLB-ready talent. He's made strides to do so via good play at Salt Lake City last season, and has done his best to prove he can be a little more patient at the plate and get more out of each AB, one of the problems seen out of him in the past. Otherwise, the strong, athletic arm is there; the baseball acumen is there; and there is some power, to boot.
Bandy was tabbed by many to make it onto the big league club last year, but the acquisition of Perez nixed that idea. Then, this past off-season, he was once again knocked back a space or two in the line to Angels' starting catcher when the Angels picked up Soto. But the talent is there to make a move, and he will have opportunities and looks this Spring that could see him finally make The Show.
What's the burning, catcher-related question mark you have for 2016?