I’ve decided to take a new approach to the minor league coverage on the site. I think this might make it a little more fun and give a wider spectrum of how our team as a whole is doing. I’ve broken the organization up into different groups. Each day, we’ll look at one of those groups and see where we stand. We’ll see who is doing well or poorly in their respective levels throughout the season. The goal is to continue to broaden the knowledge of the organization as a whole and, in tern, be more knowledgable when it comes to potential transactions dealing with the team. The groups we’ll look at starts with the catcher position. Let’s take a quick look at the summary of how our catchers have performed to date and see if we notice anything.

Stats current through April 18th, 2009

At the Major League level, how big of a blessing it has been to see Koyie Hill Wonderland the movie

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step in and be the offensive player he’s been as Geo was struggling with an injury. If we just posted the stat lines at the beginning of the year and didn’t attach names, but rather said this was what it would look like through the first two weeks, the logical conclusion would be to assumer Geo was off to a hot start, when in reality it’s the exact opposite.

Down in Iowa, it appears that both Chris Robinson and Mark Johnson are splitting time behind the plate. For Johnson, he’s simply trying to get back the Majors and find a role as a backup. My guess is that he won’t find that role with this team and will either be stuck in AAA as a filler / mentor or be traded to make room for some of the catchers we have in the system. He spent some time with St. Louis, but in a very limited role. It was the first time he had been up since 2004 with the Brewers. He hasn’t been a legit member of a big league team since 2002 with the White Sox. That being said, it’s more likely that we’ll begin to see Chris Robinson getting the bulk of the time behind the plate. For Robinson, he’s making his first trip to AAA after spending the last two seasons with the Smokies in AA and not fairing well. Perhaps another level is what he needs, though his .278 average is deceiving a bit. Looking at his his OBP and Slugging we can see that his average is made up of singles. I usually look for an OPS (On Base + Slugging) to be at least .800 to think a player is really making an impact with the bat. Robinson is not near that in the early going. He should get a chance to prove himself, especially if Johnson continues to struggle.

Tennessee is the home for perhaps the top prospect at the catcher position in the system right now in Wellington Castillo

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. He comes into the season ranked as the # 8 prospect in the system by John Sickels of Minor League Ball and is playing at the AA level for a second year after splitting time between Tennessee and Daytona last year. He hit well in AA last year so I fully expect him to do well again this year and continue to progress. I would not be surprised to see him be promoted after May if his production warrents, for no other reason than to give Steven Clevenger

a chance to get more regular time behind the plate as he continues to try to learn the position. Clevenger is a converted college infielder, but has made a pretty decent transition so far.

The only other kid that stands out to me, and it’s strictly because of his father, is Michael Brenly, who was recently added to the Peoria Chief’s roster after Mario Mercedes went on the DL with a strained calf. Brenly, a 36th round pick in 2008 out of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, caught last season in Class-A Boise. Last year he averaged .325 in 39 games with one home run and 18 RBI. His .325 average ranked him third on Boise’s hitting list last season.

So that’s the catcher position for this team so far, at least until Boise and the Arizona Cubs get started. Any thoughts, impressions or comments? Are you encouraged or discouraged? What do you think of the new format for the minor league coverage? Let’s get some discussion going since we have two full days with no baseball. On Tuesday we’ll take a look at the infield.

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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids and helps people protect their assets as an independent insurance agent. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail