Bryan Anderson–backup catcher candidate


Pretend–if you can–for a moment that Hector Giminez’s 20 career major league plate appearances have not revealed everything that needs to be known about how he’ll perform as Tyler Flowers‘ backup.

Now, for serious this time, actually pretend that the sequence of sounds “Bry-Anne Anne-Dur-Sin” don’t inspire a shudder in your heart.

With that out of the way; in addition to their unproven-as-a-starting catcher, and unproven backup, the White Sox acquired the insurance of another unproven potential backup to be a non-roster invite to Spring Training–Bryan Anderson. That’s spelled with a “Y”

It’s not much, but Anderson at least has the one thing anyone wants from a castoff organizational catcher–a ‘former top prospect who never realized his vast potential’ backstory. And with that, there’s always dreams of more, especially since Anderson was released by the Cardinals, who have a catcher named Yadier Molina occupying most of their attention.

However, the reason the Cardinals outrighted Anderson in November was hardly extraordinary. He was released after 2012 saw the young catcher–who named the 85th best prospect in baseball in 2008 on the strength of his offense–hit .225/.302/.317 as a 25 year-old in his fifth season seeing time in the offense-crazy Pacific Coast League. That included the lowest isolated power and highest strikeout rate of his MiLB career. There’s selling low, and there’s releasing an obviously regressing prospect. No one is ranting at the Cards for doing the former.

Worse yet, despite half-decent caught-stealing numbers, and work with Cardinals manager and former catcher Mike Matheny, Anderson’s 2012 Baseball Propectus player comment still stated that “concern about his catch-and-throw skills remains”. He separated his shoulder in 2009, but rebounded immediately for a somewhat encouraging year in 2010. It’s unlikely it’s still bothering him this far out, and if it was, it’s not a reason to be optimistic that he will recover.

Offensive standards for backup catchers don’t extend much beyond know what end of the bat to hold, but if Anderson can’t provide commendable defense, he needs to provide his worth to the roster via his bat.As a left-handed line-drive hitter, he would ideally be able to serve as a compliment to Tyler Flowers, and provide breaks for the starter from unfavorable right-handed match-ups–lest we endure the brutality of seeing Flowers face Jared Weaver again.

Now that concerns about actually developing Anderson into a full-time player are gone, his skill for at least making contact with right-handed pitching might still have a shot at the major league level. Not much of a shot, since Anderson’s 21% strikeout rate against PCL right-handed pitching in 2012 is still rather ominous, but that rate may sound dreamy once Flowers gets settled in.

Between Anderson and Giminez, there’s no great reason to place faith in retreads. But the disasters that placed Giminez in his current career station are more distant, and he is in currently possession of the roster spot. Gimenez wasn’t a burden on the last AAA team he played for, but Anderson was. Those are bigger advantages than what Anderson has the tools to overcome.

Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan