Luis Exposito's Bat Overcomes Demands Of Catching
FORT MYERS, FLA.—Perhaps more than any other position, catchers are expected to struggle offensively as they move up the minor league ranks. The demands of learning a new pitching staff are almost expected to come at the expense of hitting.
Thus it was somewhat eye-opening that Luis Exposito, 23, not only maintained his offensive performance after a mid-2009 promotion to Double-A Portland but actually improved it. He hit .271/.329/.424 with high Class A Salem before delivering a .337/.371/.489 line in a year-ending performance in Double-A Portland.
Farm director Mike Hazen suggested that Exposito may have the most raw power of any righthanded hitter in the system. His aggressiveness may hinder his ability to translate that skill into games, but that hasn't been the case over the last two seasons.
"We like the skills and we like the person. He's done everything that he can year by year to make himself a better player," Red Sox coaching assistant Rob Leary said. "At some point, you've got all the skills but now you've got to go out and play. And he did."
A draft-and-follow taken in the 31st round in 2005, Exposito was actually drafted on the strength of his defense. Though he is big for the position at 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, Sox officials say that his footwork allows him to move as well as smaller catchers behind the dish while providing a large target.
He has a strong arm, though he sometimes rushes throws, thus lowering his accuracy. Though the offensive numbers were what stood out in 2009, Exposito said that it was in the mental side of the game—especially his work with pitchers—that he made the most progress.
"I think it was mostly mental, adjusting to the increase of scouting there is in Double-A, how you have to work with the pitchers. They emphasize that part of the game, where you read swings and make adjustments (as a catcher)," Exposito said.
He is likely to return to Portland at the start of 2010, but after his first invite to big league camp in spring training, Exposito is clearly on the team's major league radar.
• Outfielder Zach Daeges, who missed most of 2009 with an ankle injury that required surgery, suffered a strained right lat in spring training that left him unable to play in any games in big league camp.
• Yamaico Navarro, who has spent most of his minor league career playing shortstop, has been working out at both short and third base in spring training, and will likely see significant time at both positions in 2010.