Vance Wilson’s recent placement on the DL has brought to the forefront, sooner than expected, the Tigers lack of depth at the catcher position. The Tigers have likely the best catching combo in the big leagues with Ivan Rodriguez backed by Vance Wilson, beyond that the organization is rather lacking.
Outside of Pudge and Vance, both of whom are major league veterans, the Tigers have some talent but very little experience. To replace Vance the Tigers have called up Mike Rabelo from Class AAA Toledo to fill the spot and Leyland has mentioned that he plans to play Mike as much as Wilson would have played. Vance Wilson played in 25% of the games in 2006 so this is no small amount, but it is quite a bit for Rabelo who has a single major league at-bat.
“He’s wound tighter than a clock, but once he gets around our atmosphere I think he’ll relax,” Leyland said, “He has a lot of ability, I like him. I won’t be afraid to use him.”
Below is a list of the Tigers organization at catcher to get a sense of what the organization is looking at with another untimely loss, or even beyond 2007 if they don’t sign Pudge again.
- Ivan Rodriguez – Detroit Tigers (MLB) – 7745 MLB at-bats
- Vance Wilson – Detroit Tigers (MLB) – 953 MLB at-bats
- Mike Rabelo – Toledo Mud Hens (AAA) – 1 MLB at-bats
- Dane Sardinha – Toledo Mud Hens (AAA) – 5 MLB at-bats
- Steve Torrealba – Toledo Mud Hens (AAA) – 19 MLB at-bats
- Andrew Graham – Erie SeaWolves (AA) – 0 MLB at-bats
- Adrian Casanova – Lakeland Flying Tigers (A+) – 0 MLB at-bats
- Daniel Sandoval – Lakeland Flying Tigers (A+) – 0 MLB at-bats
- Jeffrey Kunkel – Lakeland Flying Tigers (A+) – 0 MLB at-bats
- Dusty Ryan – West Michigan WhiteCaps (A-) – 0 MLB at-bats
- Joel Roa – West Michigan WhiteCaps (A-) – 0 MLB at-bats
For more information on each player, even deeper into the organization, I suggest reading Matt Wallace’s roundup at Talking Tigers of Tigers catchers. It is a very good and detailed review of each player.
Currently Wilson is on the 15-day DL but his injury seems to be unknown, he’s been cleared but the soreness persists. This is worrisome but Vance and company don’t seem too concerned.
He had an MRI exam Wednesday and was pronounced ready to play. He took three at-bats in the designated hitter’s spot Thursday, but by Friday, he was ailing anew. He acknowledged that he was frustrated.
“It just didn’t get any better,” Wilson said. “They think I’ve strained something that continues to irritate the nerve. I’ve never had anything in this area that has been this painful.”
Last year’s Tiger team depended on a number of rookies stepping up to the plate, from Verlander & Zumaya to Zach Miner and it appears this year will start off no different.