Seattle Mariners Spring Battles: Backup Catcher
Feb 26, 2015; Peoria, AZ, USA; Seattle Mariners catcher John Baker poses for a portrait during photo day at Peoria Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The Underdog: John Baker
Originally selected in the fourth round of the 2002 draft by the Oakland A’s, John Baker was signed by the Mariners to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training this offseason. Baker has performed nicely in limited opportunities early in spring training. The 34-year-old backstop has gone 2 for 6 with a double and a RBI through 3 games. He should get more chances to play going forward now that catching prospects Tyler Marlette and Marcus Littlewood have been reassigned to minor league camp.
John Baker was the backup catcher for the Chicago Cubs in 2014. Baker hit just .192 with no home runs and 15 RBI’s over the course of 182 at bats. These numbers are atrocious, but Baker does a nice job working counts and he posted a .273 on base percentage. Baker has hit .247 with 14 home runs and 120 RBI’s during his seven-year career. Always though of as a plus defender, Baker brings a .992 career fielding percentage with him to the Pacific Northwest. He is not a strong-armed backstop however, and gunned down just 15% of potential base stealers in 2014.
John Baker is the definition of a wily veteran. He went to Cal-Berkeley, and is obviously a smart man. Baker also possesses the most big league experience of anyone on this list. However, at this point, I do not expect Baker to make the Mariners’ opening day roster. It will require a very strong finish in spring training to turn me into a believer.
Next: The Dark Horse