The day has finally arrived, the Baltimore Orioles pitchers and catchers officially report to Sarasota today, which means the official beginning to Spring Training. Our first four parts of our Orioles Spring Training preview focused on the pitchers, and today we conclude the battery by turning our attention to the catchers.
Of all the parts to our Spring Training preview, this is one of the least competitive positions in regards to starting time as Matt Wieters is one of the best all around catchers in the game today, but the battle for his backup is pretty intriguing.
Local product Steve Clevenger is in the tough situation in that many feel the backup job is his to lose. Clevenger, who will turn 28 this April, sports a career .311 average in 592 minor league games with 27 home runs, 129 doubles, and 281 RBI. The most important stat that Clevenger has boasted in his minor league career is his .373 on base percentage, which is a big hole for the Orioles lineup right now. In 83 career MLB games with the Chicago Cubs and Orioles, Clevenger has a .204 average with one homer, 14 doubles, and 18 RBI in 226 at bats.
Acquired from Chicago as part of the Scott Feldman deal, Clevenger is not known for his defensive prowess, so to speak, but his left handed bat could be a nice addition to this club as they have failed to have an offensive minded backup catcher ever since Wieters took over in 2009.
His competition will come from Johnny Monell, who was acquired this offseason from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for cash considerations. The 27 year old has spent his entire professional career in the Giants organization and has accrued 641 career minor league games in seven seasons. He is a career .267 hitter in the minors, but has posted a nice .351 career on base percentage. In 2013, the left handed hitter spent most of the year in AAA and hit .275 with 27 doubles, 20 homers, 64 RBI, and a nice .364 on base percentage in 121 games.
He got eight at bats with the Giants this September with the team never in the playoff hunt and went 1-8.
Michael Ohlman is also on the 40-man roster, and despite a nice year last season he played all of 2013 at High-A Frederick, a jump to the big leagues in highly unrealistic. Caleb Joseph will also be in camp after an impressive year last year at AA Bowie, but he is thought to be a long-shot to win the backup job. One other catcher will be in camp, in Brian Ward, but he too is not considered to be in the running for the backup job to Wieters.
We may be getting PAXed here in Charm City, but our Orioles are down in Sarasota and with pitchers and catchers officially reporting today, Spring is here in our book and the season is right around the corner. We are only half way through our ten-part Orioles Spring Training preview and next up on the docket will be the Middle Infielders.
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- Orioles101′s Baltimore Orioles Spring Training Preview Part Two: Bullpen Newcomers
- Orioles101′s Baltimore Orioles Spring Training Preview Part One: Returning Relievers
- Orioles101′s Baltimore Orioles Spring Training Preview Part Four: Battle for Fifth Spot
- Orioles101′s Baltimore Orioles Spring Training Preview Part Three: Top 4 Starters
- Is It Spring Yet? Taking a Look at the Baltimore Orioles Spring Training Schedule and Reporting Dates
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