Seattle Mariners 2019 Position Preview: Catchers
MARINERS CATCHERS IN THE MINORS
Though not on the 40-man roster, the Mariners did address one of my aforementioned concerns by signing veteran catcher José Lobatón to a Minor League contract back in December. The 34-year-old spent his 2018 season with the Mets, appearing in 22 games. Lobatón has been a fringe Major Leaguer his entire career, offering average defense behind the plate and a lackluster bat. In short, he’s this year’s Tuffy Gosewisch with slightly better defensive ability.
The Mariners also handed out a Minor League contract to Austin Nola, brother of Philadelphia Phillies ace Aaron Nola. Once filling the duties of utility infielder to start his career, Nola was converted to catcher in 2017. The following year, the career Minor Leaguer performed admirably in the Marlins’ system, throwing out 26 of 44 steal attempts and slashing .279/.370/.376 with two home runs.
Both of these names are ultimately underwhelming, however, but there is one player to feel some excitement over. That would be Joe DeCarlo, the 25-year-old former second round pick of the Mariners from 2012. Like Nola, DeCarlo is a former infielder recently converted to a catcher. The 2019 season will be DeCarlo’s third full year behind the plate, and while there is still a bit of a learning curve, he’s seemed to have adjusted well up to this point.
DeCarlo has maintained the ability to play third base on occasion. This is a great sign for his chances of eventually breaking through to the MLB, as it gives the Mariners even more flexibility in their roster construction. DeCarlo isn’t a high average hitter, but has shown the propensity to get on base and has flashed solid gap-to-gap power.