Jeff Mathis, Bobby Wilson and Hank Conger are going to engage in a open competition behind the plate this spring to see who will be the two catchers in 2011. 27-year old righty swinging Jeff Mathis has the most experience of the bunch so he might have a slight edge heading into camp. Mathis played in 68 games for the Angels last season and he was 40 of 205 (.195 avg, .497 OPS) with 19 runs scored, 3 homers, 18 RBIs and 3 stolen bases. He whiffed 59 times for the Angels last season while only walking 6 times so there isn’t a lot of hope that his hitting is going to improve any time soon. Mathis has the reputation of being a good defensive catcher but he didn’t show that at all last season. Mathis made 7 errors and he also had 6 passed balls in only 67 games behind the plate for the Angels last season and that’s pretty bad. Mathis only threw out 7 of 54 (13%) runners trying to steal on him last season but Angels’ pitchers had a 3.67 ERA with him behind the plate. Mathis isn’t a good enough defensive catcher to make up for the fact that he just can’t hit. If his hitting doesn’t improve this spring, I wouldn’t be surprised if he starts the 2011 season in the minors.
27-year old righty swinging Bobby Wilson came into last season as the Angels’ #26 prospect according to Baseball America. Wilson played in 40 games for the Angels last season and he was 22 of 96 (.229 avg, .705 OPS) with 12 runs scored, 4 homers and 15 RBIs. He has power potential as a hitter and I think his average would also come up with an increase in P.T. Wilson only had 1 error but 3 passed balls in 38 innings behind the dish for the Angels last season. Wilson threw out 6 of 34 runners (17.6%) trying to steal on him last season and Angels’ pitchers had a 3.63 ERA with him behind the plate. Wilson has as good a chance as Mathis or Conger of winning the starting gig behind the plate this spring.
23-year old switch hitting Hank Conger came into last season as the Angels’ #1 prospect according to Baseball America. Conger played in 108 games in AAA-ball last season in which he was 116 of 387 (.300 avg, .847 OPS) with 56 runs scored, 11 homers and 49 RBIs. He also showed a good eye in the minors last season as he walked 55 times while whiffing 58 times. Conger also played in 13 games for the Angels last year in which he was 5 of 29 (.172 avg, .570 OPS) with 2 runs scored and 5 RBIs. Conger made 3 errors in 10 games behind the plate for the Angels last season but he didn’t have any passed balls. He might have just been a tad nervous in his first experience in the show. Conger threw out 1 of 9 (11.1%) runners trying to steal on him last season but Angels’ pitchers had a 1.91 ERA in 80 innings pitched. Conger will likely start the 2011 season in AAA-ball if he doesn’t win the starting job in spring training.
PROJECTED GRADE FOR THE ANGELS CATCHERS IN 2011: C-