The Tigers might have some minor league catchers

Take 75 North runs down all of the catching roster moves that took place in the wake of the Pudge Rodriguez trade. The Tigers organizational catching situation has been described as barren, and that’s not quite fair. There are a couple intriguing prospects who are worth following as they will now be tested at higher levels.

Dane Sardinha was called up to Detroit.
Dusty Ryan went from Erie to Toledo.
James Skelton bumped up from Lakeland to Erie.
Adrian Casanova moved from West Michigan to Lakeland.
Angel Flores will be taking a drive west from Oneonta to West Michigan.
Oneonta doesn’t have to replace Flores because they already have Joe Bowen and Tyler Weber on the team.

The two to keep an eye on are Dusty Ryan and James Skelton. Ryan has burst on to the scene a little bit with his bat this season. Baseball America rated him as the organization’s top defensive catcher. But up until this year the bat hadn’t played with his highest OPS season was the 693 he posted as a 21 year old in West Michigan. However this year he has a 255/345/472 line for AA Erie.

He only has a 15% line drive rate so his .326 BABIP is inflated. But there is something to be said for the 14 homers he has to date. The season hasn’t exactly been a model of consistency. His monthly OPS from April through July have been: 1.022 – .730 – .893 – .675. So his promotion to AAA either coincides well with the up and down nature of his season. Or it coincides horribly with a time where he is either a)regressing to the mean or b)tiring out.

James Skelton has swung a high average, low power bat for the last couple of seasons. That has continued into 2008 where he has a 308/465/409 line. He missed time in June due to injury, but has come back with a little more pop. He picked up 7 of his 12 extra base hits in the month of July. The biggest knock on Skelton is that many feel he’s just too small to be a catcher if he weighs 165 pounds. I have no idea if this is true or not, but the dude is tiny.

Between Ryan, Skelton, and even Alex Avila (290/362/331 at West Michigan) the position isn’t completely empty in the organization. While it does lack top flight prospects, the Tigers aren’t unique in that regard. And with the promotions of Ryan and Skelton the Tigers get another month to evaluate each as they are one step closer to the bigs.