Diamondbacks catchers putting up big year at the plate
Peter O’Brien and Oscar Hernandez entered the Diamondbacks’ spring training in 2015 under the curious eye of Arizona’s front office and coaching staff.
One or both, they hoped, would buoy the depth chart that was thin behind minor league veteran Tuffy Gosewisch, who not until his 30s looked like he had finally locked down his role as a starting MLB catcher.
Since then, few of those things that suggested Arizona’s catching situation would improve went as planned.
O’Brien turned in his catcher’s mask during his minor league season in 2015, the 22-year-old Hernandez remains a liability at the plate for Double-A Mobile and Gosewisch’s 2015 run came to an end with a torn ACL.
But as Gosewisch made his first 2016 start on Sunday against the Giants, things are looking up once again.
Before Arizona’s 5-4 loss to San Francisco, the catching duo of Welington Castillo and Chris Herrmann led the majors in total hits (95), home runs (16), RBI (55), stolen bases (5), slugging percentage (.502) and total bases (163).
“Our catchers have been up there all year, offensively,” manager Chip Hale told media members on Sunday.
The Mark Trumbo trade last season that shipped Castillo to the desert and the less-ballyhooed trade to acquire Herrmann in the offseason are paying off — at least at the plate.
Castillo (30 RBI) and Herrmann (27) are fifth and six on the team in RBI totals despite splitting time. They are third (Herrmann, .507) and fourth (Castillo, .469) on Arizona’s roster in slugging percentage.
Still, the most recent roster moves could mark a key point in the 2016 season.
Herrmann has been dealing with a tight hamstring since the series against the Colorado Rockies, and while he’s played the last two nights in the outfield, he was removed from an expected Sunday start at catcher by Gosewisch because the issue is lingering.
Gosewisch comes in with a sound history of handling his pitchers, an even more important thing with ace Zack Greinke placed on the disabled list through at least the All-Star break.
“The relationship between the pitcher and catcher is important. (He) does a good job of making adjustments during the game to what’s going on and what the pitcher has,” Hale said. “Sometimes you go into a game with a plan and certain pitches aren’t working or location — he’s not able to reach one side of the plate or the other.”
Gosewisch, who hasn’t been known for his bat throughout his career, was slashing .342/.399/.553 with Triple-A Reno. He had 13 doubles and nine home runs.
That translated well in his first MLB game of 2016. He went 2-for-4 at the plate.
“(Gosewisch) deserves a chance to show us what he’s got,” Hale added. “He had a heck of a year in Triple-A, with the bat also.”