clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Meet the 2018 Mariners NRIs: Catchers

An old hand, a new hand, and a Rule 5 pick not named Mike Ford

Texas Rangers v Seattle Mariners
The Tuff
Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

Each year as spring training approaches, most big league clubs will have a crop of non-roster invitees that join the guys on the 40-man roster at big league camp. Typically, that group is made up of some combination of top organizational prospects who have had a year or two of minor league experience, and major league and/or upper-minors veterans who are trying to crack an Opening Day roster one last time. Ben kicked off this series with a deep dive on former Cubs outfielder John Andreoli last week; this week, we’ll get you up to speed on everyone else. First up: the catchers.

The Rule 5 selection: Joe Odom

Mike Ford gobbles up all the Rule 5 attention, but the Mariners actually made two other selections in the minor-league stage of the Rule 5 draft, taking two catchers to bolster the M’s paper-thin catching depth. 24-year-old Tyler Baker, selected from Arizona’s High-A team, didn’t snag a big-league camp invite, but Joe Odom, taken from the Braves’ system, did. Odom, who is not Lamar Odom’s father, is a former batterymate of Max Povse who toiled in High-A for parts of three seasons, and then another two in Double-A. He missed time last year with an injury and his offensive numbers don’t dazzle, but Odom has a reputation as a good framer and a solid defensive catcher. In 2015 he showed some good pop with the Carolina Mudcats with an ISO of .181 and there’s potentially some power in the bat.

The familiar face: Tuffy Gosewisch

Tuffy’s face might be a little too familiar for Mariners fans who watched his 31 plate appearances last year, in which the Tuffster ran an amusingly dreadful -59 wRC+. But Tuffy isn’t around for his offense. He’s a superior defensive catcher who is especially valuable to a young pitching staff as he almost acts as another coach on the field. Check out his Twitter feed, which is full of the mental skills type tweets we’re starting to see more and more in the organization. He’s also a personal favorite of mine because he is incredibly nice, and would go out of his way to greet me and say hi when I was standing around awkwardly in the press area in Tacoma waiting for interviews. Let the Tuffy chants ring out at Cheney this year.

The convert: Joe DeCarlo

A fun fact about Joe DeCarlo: he has never put up a wRC+ of below 100 throughout his entire career as a Mariner. The fact that he was able to maintain a 108 wRC+ this year while converting to the most difficult defensive position on the diamond is a testament to his strong offensive skillset. He does strike out a fair amount (right about 25%) MiLB embeds suck so click here to see DeCarlo hit a moonshot go-ahead homer this year in San Jose. This won’t be DeCarlo’s first time in big-league spring training; last year, he made the most of the WBC departures to make an impression:

Defensively, DeCarlo’s skillset is a work in progress, as you might expect from a high school shortstop who played all over the infield for his entire pro career. His background as a shortstop means DeCarlo has a strong and accurate arm, and he’s thrown out some runners trying to take advantage of the new kid behind the dish. He should get even better as he improves his pop time, which scouts currently have around 2 seconds. His framing abilities aren’t terrible either, probably owing to his strong sense of the zone (DeCarlo has run double-digit walk rates every year of his career). He has nice receiving skills and soft hands. Predictably, where DeCarlo needs to improve is in pitch-blocking, one skill that can only be improved by consistent reps behind the plate. Those might be hard to come by in big league camp, but DeCarlo will benefit from being exposed to more experienced catchers (Tuffy, it’s your time to shine), and it will be interesting to see how he handles the high-velocity hurlers; he’s caught Warren and Festa before, both of whom throw in the mid-to-upper 90s, so he should have a solid base there.