Catchers are always in high demand thanks to a limited supply of players who can handle the defensive demands of the position and hit well enough to have any major league value.
While many teams struggle to keep their systems stocked with as many high-caliber catching prospects as they would like to have, the Rangers instead have a positional glut.
Choosing to stick with Gerald Laird as their major league catcher, the Rangers sent 22-year-old catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia back to Triple-A Oklahoma for more seasoning. If Saltalamacchia doesn’t turn into the Rangers’ catcher of the future, the Rangers still have options. Taylor Teagarden (No. 4 in the system) and Max Ramirez (No. 23) are a step below Saltalamacchia at Double-A Frisco, and Cristian Santana (No. 20) is in low Class A Clinton as a catcher/outfielder.
While that catching surplus could quickly disintegrate due to injuries, positional switches, trades or players simply not panning out, the Rangers’ current challenge is to figure out how to optimally develop the catching skills of Teagarden and Ramirez as they share time in Frisco. It’s early, but so far Teagarden and Ramirez have split time between catcher and DH, with Teagarden catching three games and Ramirez behind the plate for two.
"Both have big futures," Frisco manager Scott Little said. "It’s worked out well so far, so you can’t complain, but a more perfect scenario would be that these guys are catching four, five days a week.
"But they’re getting their at-bats. In my mind, they are two-way guys who can catch and hit, so it’s a pretty good situation for us. With Taylor, getting him going and getting him off on the right track and healthy is one of our big, big, big plans, just to keep him healthy."
The Rangers have to monitor Teagarden’s health after he had Tommy John surgery at the end of 2005, missed most of 2006 to rehab and then felt elbow fatigue last season, which limited him to catching in just 44 of the 110 games he played.