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OC Register: Angels 2021 spring training position preview: catchers

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Angels pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report for spring training on Feb. 16. As we count down to the opening of camp – coronavirus permitting – we’re doing a breakdown of the different position groups on their roster. Today, a look at the catchers.

2020 RECAP

The Angels went into 2020 with a duo of Max Stassi and Jason Castro, a pair of catchers who specialized in pitch-framing. The hope was that they could make an impact on the pitching staff. Although the 60-game season wasn’t much of a sample, it didn’t work. The pitchers struggled, contributing significantly to another losing season. At the plate, though, the two catchers provided mixed results. Stassi was a pleasant surprise offensively, producing an .886 OPS and hitting seven home runs in 31 games. Castro had a .707 OPS and three homers, and he was traded at the deadline in late August. Anthony Bemboom served as the backup catcher, working around the Castro trade and Stassi’s early-season injury.


Stassi will be back as the primary catcher, although there’s some question about whether he’ll be ready for Opening Day because he had hip surgery just after the season. The Angels are expecting him to be ready soon into the season, at the latest. They are hopeful that last year’s offensive breakout wasn’t a fluke, but was instead the sustainable result of Stassi’s swing changes from a year ago. His backup will be Kurt Suzuki (free agent, from the Washington Nationals), who has been a solid offensive producer throughout his career. Suzuki had a .791 OPS over his last two seasons. Suzuki is 37, so the Angels are only expecting him to catch a couple of games per week.


If Stassi isn’t ready, or if either of the catchers gets hurt later in the season, the next player on the depth chart is still Bemboom. In his 48 at-bats in 2020, Bemboom produced a .744 OPS. He’s also a left-handed hitter, which makes him a good fit with the right-handed-hitting Stassi and Suzuki. The Angels also re-signed Juan Graterol to a minor league deal, bringing back a player who had been in the big leagues with them on a few occasions from 2016-18. After that, the Angels don’t have a catcher anywhere near the top of their prospect lists. The top catchers in their farm system who haven’t yet played in the majors are Jack Kruger and Frankin Torres.


Angels GM Perry Minasian spent the past three years with the Atlanta Braves, an organization that has four catchers among its top 30 prospects, according to MLB Pipeline. Shea Langliers and William Contreras are both among the top 10, so perhaps they wouldn’t be available for anyone who is expendable to the Angels. However, maybe the Angels could pry away either Alex Jackson (No. 21) or Logan Brown (No. 27), just to plug the farm system hole at that position.

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