Make your own free website on Tripod.com
Baseball Digest
1998 Rookie Catchers

December 1998 by George Vass

In terms of quantity, 1998 was an exceptional season behind the plate, with more than a dozen rookies getting chances to play, although few established themselves as regulars

The long list of rookie catchers includes Jason Varitek of the Red Sox, Robert Machado of the White Sox, Pat Bako and Joe Siddell of the Tigers, Hector Ortiz of the Royals, Javier Valentin of the Twins, A.J. Hinch of the A's, Kevin Brown of the Blue Jays, Damian Miller of the Diamondbacks, Mitch Meluskey of the Astros, Bobby Hughes of the Brewers, Bob Henley of the Expos, Bobby Estalella of the Phillies, and Eli Marrero of the Cardinals.

Among these, Hinch, Marrero and Bako made the most impact, all three moving into the lineup on a fairly regular basis. Most others enjoyed only part-time duty, as is customary with novice catchers.

Machado, 25, got more frequent work from the also-ran White Sox in late season to test whther he was ready to take over full time in 1999.

"There's going to come a time when we want the young guy to do a lot of catching." said Sox manager Jerry Manuel. "We need to get some of the kinks out about how we like to have things done."

The Phillies hoped Estalella, 24, would show flashes of the power he used in hitting three home runs in one of his first major league games in the fall of 1997. But he had a hard time getting his batting average above his weight in '98.

Marrero, 25, who overcame surgery for thyroid cancer, fared much better. He won a share of the catching job from veteran Tom Lampkin, and kept his batting average around the respectable .270 level. He also was very strong defensively, with a fine throwing arm.

The Tigers lost Paul Casanova to injury early in the season, and left most of the catching to Bako, 26, a left-handed batter. While no great shakes as a hitter, Bako is very deft defensively. He hit above expectations, however, with the Tigers, hovering around .270, though without exerting much power.

Hinch also had his problems on offense, being unable to get much above .230, but showed flashes of the hitting ability he demonstrated in 1997, his first year as a pro. He batted .309 with 20 HR in 95 games at Class A Modesto, then did even better at AAA Edmonton, with .375 in 39 games.

"I can't ever remember feeling so inconsistent," said Hinch, the 1992 national high school player of the year, about his struggles in 1998. "There were some times during the mess when I felt 'When is this going to get better?'"

The A's expect it will get better for Hinch in '99. And despite his modest showing in his first year, Hinch is our selection as the top catcher.

A.J. Hinch
#23 | Hinch Bio & Stats | League Awards

YR
1998
G
120
AB
337
R
34
H
78
2B
10
3B
0
HR
9
RBI
35
BB
30
SO
89
SB
3
CS
0
OBP
.296
SLG
.341
AVG
.231


BACK TO THE TOP



Hall Of Fame Catchers List of Catchers All-Star Catchers Post Season League Awards Batting Fielding Records Greatest Catcher 800 Games Caught HOME - Front Page Equipment Skills & Drills Articles About Catchers Trivia Quizes Quotes Rotisserie All-American Girls Professional Baseball Links 19th Century Current Catchers Ex-Catcher Managers Feedback HOME - Front Page HOME - Front Page Miscellaneous