We’re going to continue this series, only with catchers (we’ll do infielders in a couple days). This is not going to be the most exciting list, considering that these guys are around mostly for this purpose of catching the large number of pitchers in camp and not with any eye on a big league job. We’ll proceed anyway:
Rivera may just be the rare guy today who never got the shot that he deserved. A decent catching prospect (though perhaps “hitting prospect” would be more appropriate) at the turn of the century, Rivera spent most of his youth stuck behind various catching logjams, before bouncing around a bit, then landing in Milwaukee for a few years. All the while, he mashed in AAA while showing some signs of life in sporadic call-ups, but still not enough to convince the Brewers to stop wasting their time on Chad Moeller. At the age of 31, he finally spent a whole season in the big leagues caddying for Jason Kendall, but he was into his decline phase and resumed bouncing around the PCL shortly after. Now, at 35 and with most of his bat gone, he’s nothing more than an insurance policy, and with 3 catchers ahead of him on the depth chart, he figures to spend another summer in Nashville while wondering what he might have been.
Phillips actually has quite a bit in common with Rivera: Both were once well-regarded prospects who hit a developmental roadblock at precisely the wrong time, only to have decent careers as Quad-A guys who maybe could have been something more. (It should be noted, though, that the snag in Phillips’ career was two full years missed due to elbow woes and not a lack of an available spot.) Phillips’ bat never really recovered from the missed time, but he has always brought enough defense to the table (throwing out 35% of attempted base-stealers for his career) that he probably could have been a decent backup at some point or another – like Rivera, the opportunity just never really came. However, guys with his catch-and-throw skills can stick around for awhile, and he has a shot at a job somewhere again this year. Ironically, the perceived intangible skills that come with his advanced age probably make him as good a candidate as he ever was to stick, just not in this organization.
Anderson de la Rosa
At 27, de la Rosa is the youngest of the bunch, but there still not much to get excited about here. De la Rosa has spent the last few years as a minor league backup catcher, spotting better prospects while not hitting much and doing everything else pretty well, always a few years older than his teammates. He’s in camp because there’s a lot of bullpens that need to be caught, and while he could stick around in the minors for awhile, it would be a huge surprise if he is even able to match Phillips’ career.
Arlis is another minor league backup catcher, having bounced from the Marlins
to the indy leagues to the Brewers and now in his age 31 season. Arlis brings
the solid glove you’ve probably become accustomed to by now, but hasn’t hit a
lick since the 2002 New York/Penn League. You may have seen this picture of him
from a few days ago. He looks like a good dude, and a good glove and great
personality can get you pretty far as a catcher. That is all.