Friday, May 6, 2011

Rochester Impacted By Catcher's Call-Ups

Rivera is making the trip from Rochester (Photo: Jack Haley)
The injury to Joe Mauer has caused a lot of chaos in the depths of the Twins organization. The Twins gave Steve Holm some time with the big league club and decided that he was not what the team needed at this point. So starting on Friday, the Twins will have a new back-up catcher for the weekend series with Boston, Rene Rivera. There have been many that question this move by the Twins, because Rivera is not seen as being much of an improvement over what Holm brought to the table.

All of this movement with catchers from Rochester to Minnesota could be seen as having a greater impact on some of the individual players at the minor league level. There are many young pitchers that compose the starting rotation and the bullpen of the Red Wings. Not having consistency at the catching position can be a hinderance to the young pitching arms in the minors.

The pitcher and catcher relationship can be something that a player relies on when he is on the mound. The more a pitcher and catcher work together, the easier it is for a catcher to call a game. If a pitcher and catcher work together long enough, they can anticipate what the other is thinking and execute the game plan accordingly.

Let's take a look at an example from the Rochester Red Wings. Kyle Gibson, the top pitching prospect in the Twins organization, has made five starts for the Rochester Red Wings. He had a rough couple of starts while he got stretched out, but his last three starts have been fairly good. He took a no-hitter into the seventh inning of one of those starts.  Here is how the catchers have lined up on the days that Gibson took the mound.

Catchers for Kyle Gibson at Rochester
April 9: Rene Rivera
April 14: Rene Rivera
April 21: Rene Rivera
April 26: Danny Lehmann
May 1: Danny Lehmann

The player that has caught Gibson the most, Rivera, is now wearing a major league jersey. Lehmann, who has been catching the most recent games of Gibson, will be sharing time with Steve Holm. This weekend Holm could become the third catcher to be behind the plate for a Gibson start. That is a lot of catchers to get to know in only the sixth start of the year. Especially when some of those catchers have been spending time at the MLB level.

Overall, these players are professionals and they need to be able to adjust to the catcher that is in the line-up on the day that they are slated to start. The Twins will be suiting up the fourth catcher at the big league level during the up-coming Boston series. Injuries happen and they will continue to be part of the game. It would just be nice to get some more consistency for the young arms in the minor league system.

Some of these pitchers are a vital part of the future for the organization. Let's hope all the internal movement does not stunt their growth.

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