Baltimore Orioles spring training position preview: Catcher

How does the Orioles catcher depth chart look entering Spring Training?

Oct 7, 2023; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman (35) throws to first base during game one of the ALDS against the Texas Rangers
Oct 7, 2023; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman (35) throws to first base during game one of the ALDS against the Texas Rangers / Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
facebooktwitterreddit

It's February. Spring Training is just a few weeks away across the league. One of the fun things about spring training is watching roster battles play out throughout February and March, seeing who can win the final roster spots and if there will be any shocking omissions.

I'll be doing a series on the depth chart as it stands at the end of January at each position around the diamond (DH not included) and see where competition could lie for the Orioles. The first part is catcher. How does the depth chart look?

The starter

The Orioles have a clear-cut starting catcher, and his name is Adley Rutschman. He's been arguably the best catcher in baseball since his debut in 2022, and it's been evident the effect he's had on the pitching staff since reaching the majors. He's the main guy in Baltimore and will continue to be for a while.

The backup

Thanks to a trade with the New York Mets that carried very little risk, James McCann is a dependable backup option for the Orioles to use behind the plate, giving Rutschman more time to DH or even take a day off.

McCann's value is what it is, but he fits perfectly in Baltimore for what they need him to be, and he did a good job of that in 2023. Expect more of the same from McCann in 2024.

Non-roster options

The Orioles are very fortunate to have their catching tandem locked down at the major league level with Rutschman and McCann. In the event one of them goes down with injury, which happened to McCann a few times last year, the reserves at Triple A will be tapped in to.

Right now, the Norfolk Tides have Maverick Handley, David Bañuelos, and Michael Perez, none of whom are on the Orioles 40 man roster. Handley is the only holdover from last year, with both Perez and Bañuelos signed to minor-league contracts this offseason.

Perez is a profile similar to McCann but one that has less upside both defensively and with the bat. Bañuelos hasn't played a single major league game and had spent his entire career in the Minnesota Twins system.

The first name called from Triple A if it's needed would likely be Handley, a sixth-round draft pick of the Orioles from Stanford in 2019. While his numbers with the bat aren't spectacular, he'd be a fine backup option should the need arise for the Orioles.

Wrap-up

The Orioles are in a great spot with their catching tandem, having two guys capable of everyday roles in the majors with Rutschman and McCann leading the way. While the minor league depth behind them is a little suspect, the Orioles won't have to worry about their catchers a lot in 2024.

feed