Jul 27, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Chicago White Sox catcher Adrian Nieto (17) gets congratulated after his first career home run in the eighth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Weight: 200 pounds
When spring training begins, the backup catcher’s role is Nieto’s to lose, I think. In 48 games played last season, he batted .236 with a .296 OBP and .340 SLG in his first MLB season.
His stats don’t jump off the page, so that’s why I like seeing the White Sox bringing in some competition for this spring, because this team is all about improving from 73 wins in ’14, and a .236 average from the reserve catcher might not cut it.
As for Nieto, he had 25 hits in 106 at-bats, where he hit five doubles and two home runs last season. The incumbent to the backup catcher’s role, Nieto had just seven RBIs and did walk eight times.
Nieto also struck out 38 times, but let’s be honest, he never got the chance to get any consistent at-bats behind Flowers at the MLB level, who had a vast majority as the catcher for the White Sox in ’14.
Nieto had a -0.1 WAR for the White Sox last season.
Before last season, Nieto played Advanced-A ball at Potomac for 110 games. In that time, he batted .285 with a .373 OBP and .449 SLG. In what was his most recent MiLB season, Nieto had 111 hits (29 doubles, one triple and 11 home runs).
That’s the thing though with all four catchers … whomever the White Sox choose to be the backup catcher must be able to come off the bench at a moment’s notice and be prepared to produce for the ball club. That is no secret.
Like this article has mentioned numerous times, the White Sox are in a win-now mode, and most likely anything else won’t cut it with GM Rick Hahn and the rest of the front office of the White Sox.
In all honesty, if anyone on this list other than Brantly or Nieto gains the backup catcher’s role, I’d be surprised. This, and the battle for the starting second baseman job, might be the two biggest spring training battles, or at least the most interesting.
Spring training cannot arrive fast enough.