Three National League Central teams used catching tandems in August.Â Each includes a player with a realistic shot at taking the job full time next year.Â For everyone playing in two catcher leagues, this column is for you!
Pittsburgh:Â Mike McKenry (RH) 20 August games, seven as a pinch hitter, started six of seven vs. LHP
Rod Barajas (RH) 17 August games
McKenry was passed by Wilin Rosario in Colorado and never given a real shot in the Red Sox organization.Â He found life in Pittsburgh though.Â His bat always had some pop in it, but he amplified things this year with a 0.75 GB/FB ratio.Â He is successful often enough, getting 16.9% of his fly balls over the wall and totaling a .242 ISO.Â He is hitting .282/.370/.590 off lefties with a .296 BABIP that is the lower of his platoon splits.
His BB/K is currently 0.31.Â If he can push his walk rate over 10% – as it was in three minor league seasons â€“ it would go a long way to establishing him as a solid starter.Â Defense is likely a concern too.Â He throws out 18% of runners in his career but only 12% this year.Â He has a below average range factor in each season.
Barajas must be playing because of any perceived â€œveteran leadershipâ€ or â€œreceiving abilityâ€.Â He has a 63 wRC+ with an ISO under .150 for the first time since 2003.Â His wRC+ is 20th of 22 catchers with 300 plate appearances.Â His defensive statistics are sub-par this year as well.
The Pirates spent a top five pick on Tony Sanchez but he is not kicking any doors down.Â Since an early June promotion to Triple-A he is hitting .233/.313/.408.
Houston:Â Jason Castro (LH) 11 August games, no starts against LHP
Chris Snyder (RH) 12 August games
Carlos Corperan was in the picture early in the month but was demoted on August 12
Castro is hitting better but in light of his knee problems the team is reluctant to give him a full starterâ€™s load.Â His power has not developed yet as his .112 ISO demonstrates.Â That is not part of an adjustment to the majors, he had a higher mark only once, in 2009 playing at Lancaster of the California League.Â He is selective enough (25.3% Oswing%) and makes enough contact (85.1%) but without home run power or an extremely high walk rate he will struggle to be a league average offensive player.Â He is grossly inept against southpaws, generating a 11 wRC+.Â Positively, his OBP against righties is .370.
Snyder is not doing himself any favors hitting .193/.314/.344.Â He is somewhat hampered by a .234 BABIP.Â He makes a decent platoon partner with a career .206 ISO and 108 wRC+ against left handed pitching.Â He and Castro could form a decent tandem but a $4,000,000 option assures that Snyder will not be back in 2013.Â Do not expect him to start anywhere he lands.
Chicago:Â Welington Castillo (RH) 18 August games, started all five vs. LHP
Steve Clevenger (LH) 12 August games
There is not a big age difference between the two, but Castillo is thought of as a future starter.Â His minor league stats are split among so many stops that it takes effort to make heads or tails of them.Â Overall his walk rate was 7.2% and he struck out in 21.1% of plate appearances, not a good ratio.Â In 27 games with the Cubs he has a 27.7% K% and a 0.25 BB/K.Â His .202 ISO keeps him productive.
His 48.5% swing rate is on the high side, but his contact rate is near 80%.Â John Sickels compared him to Miguel Olivo on multiple occasions.Â If these skills are stable maintaining power is the key to his future offensive success.Â He shows promise defensively, throwing out 36% of runners in the minors and 29% in limited major league action.
Clevenger set a professional high with eight home runs last year.Â He has a .082 ISO in 191 major league plate appearances and a 2.18 GB/FB.Â Both his OBP and SLG are below .300 this year.Â When facing right-handed pitchers, his strong platoon side, he has only a 76 wRC+.Â He is selective, has high contact rates, but is just not a dangerous hitter.