The Yankees have used a lot of draft and international free agent capital in recent years to shore up the catcher position throughout the minor league system. The players signed into the organization are starting to break through, as Josh Breaux, Austin Wells, and Anthony Seigler have all had strong seasons at the Yankees’ three highest levels of the minors. Beyond those players, there is more talent coming, too, as the catchers at the Low-A and Florida Complex League level are putting up big offensive numbers in 2022. Let’s take a look at the high-performing catchers in the lower levels for the Yankees.
The most notable catcher in the lower levels for the Yankees is Antonio Gomez, who is ranked as the team’s 18th-best prospect by MLB.com. Long known for his throwing arm and defense behind the plate, this was expected to be the year that he had an extended run at full-season ball to show off his skills.
Gomez started slowly out of the gate and was briefly demoted off the Low-A Tampa roster this season. He did not see action in the FCL, as he was refining his work in the batter’s box behind the scenes, and when he returned to Low-A, he began hitting much better.
Over Gomez’s last 33 games, he has posted a 147 wRC+, while still earning strong reviews for his defense. He has been spitting time behind the plate with 2021 draft pick Ben Rice.
The Dartmouth University product did not get many opportunities to play in college, as the Ivy League had both their 2020 and 2021 seasons wiped out due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Yankees were able to see enough from Rice during a 13-game stint with Cotuit in the 2021 Cape Cod League to warrant a 12th-round selection.
After a slow start to the Low-A season, Rice has found his stride of late. He has a 175 wRC+ over his last 35 games. In that stretch of 121 plate appearances, he has 17 walks and struck out just 19 times.
Here’s a base hit from Ben Rice today. Catcher was the Yankees 12th round pick out of Dartmouth in 2021. pic.twitter.com/3rlfDgpjsh— Eli Fishman (@elijfishman) March 15, 2022
If Gomez and Rice were not producing at a high level, they would be getting pushed for their roster spots by the guys below them in the Yankees’ system. The FCL team — essentially Rookie ball — features its own group of talented catchers who are pushing each other for playing time.
Agustin Ramirez was signed in the same international free agent class as Antonio Gomez and made his stateside debut in 2021. This season, he has broken out and is hitting .304/.389/.516 through 42 games. He has a strong arm behind the plate and is throwing out around 36 percent of the runners who try stealing against him, which is above the league average.
Backing up Ramirez in the catching department is Omar Martinez, who is following up on a strong 2021 season, with another good offensive performance this year. He has an .895 OPS while playing catcher, designated hitter and first base.
A third catcher who signed with the Yankees at the same time as Gomez and Ramirez was Jesus Rodriguez. He has posted strong offensive numbers through his career but has taken it to another level this year in the FCL. With the catcher position well-manned at his current level, Rodriguez has played mostly first base this season. He has still played catcher six times this year behind Ramirez and Martinez.
Rodriguez is hitting .347/.440/.595, with 18 extra base hits, 15 walks and just 13 strikeouts. He is having a great campaign and could find his way into full-season ball by the end of the year if an opportunity presents itself.
The Yankees have built strong catching depth throughout their minor league system. Right now, their lower-level minor league affiliates are receiving tremendous production from five players who have manned the catcher position. These prospects have all positioned themselves to continue climbing the ladder and moving toward the upper levels of the system.