Guardians call-up could paint themselves into corner at catcher

Guardians call-up could paint themselves into corner at catcher

GOODYEAR, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 23: Bo Naylor #23 of the Cleveland Guardians poses for a photo during media day at Goodyear Ballpark on February 23, 2023 in Goodyear, Arizona. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

GOODYEAR, ARIZONA – FEBRUARY 23: Bo Naylor #23 of the Cleveland Guardians poses for a photo during media day at Goodyear Ballpark on February 23, 2023 in Goodyear, Arizona. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

The Cleveland Guardians have called up top catching prospect Bo Naylor this weekend, and it could cause the team to make a tough decision if he plays well.

The Cleveland Guardians are sitting below .500 in the AL Central and entered Sunday with a 20-24 record. They lost their series-opening game against the New York Mets in walk-off fashion, via a single by former shortstop Francisco Lindor. The series concluded on Sunday with a doubleheader with the Mets, as Saturday’s game was postponed due to rain in Queens, N.Y.

Ahead of the doubleheader, the Guardians made the big move in the form of calling up the No. 4 prospect in the farm system, Bo Naylor, as the team’s 27th player.

Bo Naylor has joined the Guardians as their 27th player for today’s doubleheader.

— Zack Meisel (@ZackMeisel) May 21, 2023

While this is exciting news for the fanbase, this does push the team into a corner. What do they do at the catcher’s position if Naylor succeeds during his call-up (if up for a decent amount of time)? After all, the team now has four catchers on the major league roster!

Guardians call up top catching prospect Bo Naylor

Cleveland’s catching situation is, well, not the best. The positional depth chart is led by veteran Mike Zunino. Not only is he struggling in the batter’s box (.165 batting average, .276 on-base percentage, .318 slugging percentage), but he’s also not doing too well behind the plate. While Zunino does have a fielding percentage of .990 with 186 putouts, 10 assists, and two errors in 198 total chances, he has allowed four passed balls (league-high) and 14 wild pitches. Not to mention, he allowed 27 stolen bases and only caught five players stealing.

Cam Gallagher, meanwhile, holds a .992 fielding percentage, allowed 15 stolen bases, and caught three players. But at the plate, Gallagher has slashed .106/.160/.128, while recording one run scored, four RBI, and five hits in 47 at-bats (17 games).

As for David Fry, he has played just four games at catcher, none of which were starts, putting up a 1.000 fielding percentage and allowing one stolen base.

Naylor does have the chance to make a statement for the Guardians if he does receive a long enough stay on the major league roster. In 30 games as a catcher in Triple-A this year, he put up a .987 fielding percentage (281 putouts, 18 assists, and four errors on  303 total chances). In terms of stolen bases, Naylor allowed 42 and threw out just seven players.

In the batter’s box, meanwhile, Naylor put up a .257/.391/.507 slash line, while recording nine home runs, 29 runs scored, 32 RBI, and 38 hits in 41 games.

Naylor only played in the first game of the doubleheader as a pinch hitter in the top of the eighth inning. He allowed Tommy Pham to steal second base in the bottom of the frame. In terms of hitting, Naylor went 0-for-2 in the batter’s box.

Again, if the Guardians give Naylor a chance and he does prove himself, they will have to choose terms of who stays and who goes.

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