Examining the New York Yankees’ Minor Leagues – The Catchers
by James Vlietstra
February 10, 2021
Gary Sanchez is looking to rebound from a 2020 season that can only be described as a colossal failure By the playoffs, he had lost his starting spot to Kyle Higashioka. These are the only two catchers on the Yankees 40-man roster. The last couple of years, Eric Kratz has been the emergency third option, waiting in Scranton. However, he has retired and likely will be a coach in the near future.
There are currently four catchers on MLB Pipeline Yankees top 30 prospects. They are: Austin Wells (#6), Anthony Seigler (15), Antonio Gomez (19), and Josh Breaux (20).
Wells, 21, was the team’s first round pick (28th overall) in the 2020 amateur draft. The lefty has yet to make his professional debut.
Seigler, 21, was their first round pick (23rd overall) in 2018. The switch hitter played in Charleston in 2019.
Gomez, 19, was a 2018 international free agent out of Venezuel. He played in the GCL in 2019.
Breaux 23, was the second round pick in 2018. He displayed tremendous power in Charleston in 2019.
Replacing the role of Kratz looks like it will be shared between Rob Brantly, 31, and Kelvin Declan, 28. They will likely be the tandem playing at AAA Scranton. Brantly played for the San Francisco Giants in 2020. Deglan was at AA Trenton in 2019. Another veteran option is 27-year old Max McDowell.
The new affiliate Somerset Patriots is the AA representative. My guess is that Danny Sands and Jason Lopez spend much of their summer there. The 24-year-old Sands is in his 7th year with the organization. Lopez, 22, was his teammate at class A Tampa in 2019.
The Hudson Valley Renegades is another new affiliate of the Yankees at the High-A division. In 2019, Seigler, Breaux, and the 24 year old switch hitting Eduardo Navas teamed together to handle the catching duties in Charleston. The Renegades seem like a good landing point for this trio.
Tampa is now the Low-A affiliate, playing right at George M. Steinbrenner Field, the spring training home of the Yankees. Chase Illig, 21, Carlos Narvarz, 22, and Carlos Gallardo, 24, were teammates on the Staten Island Yankees in 2019. Tampa seems like a good landing spot for them.
With only four affiliates, Himes Field, the Yankees minor league training base, located across the street from GMS Field will likely be busy this year. There are basically three options for healthy players: (1) Be sent to full season team, (2) Get sent to the Dominican Republic complex and play in the DSL, (3) Stay at the Tampa complex and eventually play in the GCL. Extended spring training and more instruction will continue for the players.
For every six to eight arms that are throwing, there needs to be a catcher on site to catch. Here is a list of some more catchers, their ages, as well as where they played in 2019:
Saul Torres, 21 Pulaski
Austin Wells, 21 (yet to play professional baseball)
Meure Rodriguez, 21 GCL
Gabriel Mora, 20 Pulaski
Enyerberth Ascanio, 20 GCL
Juan Crisp, 20 GCL
Miguel Torres, 20 GCL
Alex Guerrero, 20 GCL
Hemmanuel Rosario, 20 GCL
Agustin Ramirez, 19 DSL
Nicolas Garcia, 19 DSL
Kevyn Camacho, 18 DSL
Jesus Rodriguez, 18 DSL
Gabriel Bersing, 17 yet to make debut
Conclusion – It will be interesting to see what happens here. It’s make-or-break year for so many!