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Catching depth within the Organization

Eddie Altamonte

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Minors report: Depth building at catcher
03/04/2007 1:00 PM ET
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com

JUPITER, Fla. -- Catching depth is building up in the Marlins' system.
One of the most difficult positions to fill, four of the organization's Minor League catchers are in big-league camp.

While some still have a shot to make the Marlins, they project to fill the starting slots at Class A Jupiter, Double-A Carolina and Triple-A Albuquerque.

Nick Trzesniak and Paul Hoover most likely will end up at Albuquerque. Brad Davis is in line to open at Carolina, while Brett Hayes is slotted for Jupiter.

Hayes will be interesting to follow because four of the franchise's top young pitchers are expected to be with the Hammerheads. Chris Volstad, Ryan Tucker, Sean West and Aaron Thompson are target to be part of that staff.

Davis, drafted out of Long Beach State a few years ago, was the catcher for Angels right-hander Jered Weaver and Mets lefty Jason Vargas in college.

"I've been impressed with all those guys," Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Defensively, I think the catcher is worth his weight in gold, if they can handle a pitching staff.

"Of course, you'd like to have a Pudge [Rodriguez], who has all those Gold Gloves [and] is a career .300 hitter. But there are lots of guys who handle the pitchers."

On the move: Most likely, Gaby Hernandez will open the year in Double-A. But the 20-year-old right-hander conceivably could win a rotation spot coming out of Spring Training. Even if he doesn't, it will just be a matter of time before he makes his Major League debut. Keep an eye on outfielder Alejandro De Aza, an athletic 22-year-old who was previously in the Dodgers' system. With great speed, De Aza may sneak into the center-field mix before the end of Spring Training. Even though he is in Minor League camp, first baseman Gaby Sanchez continues to impress with his hitting prowess.

Names in the game: Tim Cossins is the organization's catching coordinator. The manager of the Class A Jupiter Hammerheads a year ago, Cossins is gaining praise for his handling of the catchers in Spring Training drills. Drafted in the 16th round by the Texas Rangers in 1993, he played 261 games in the Minor Leagues. In 1992, he played in the College World Series for the University of Oklahoma.

They're No. 1: Lefty reliever Taylor Tankersley, the top pick in 2004, is hopeful to resume throwing off flat ground in a few days. Tankersley has been bothered by inflammation in his shoulder, and he's optimistic he can be ready, if not by Opening Day, a few weeks afterwards.

Class of '06: Chris Coghlan, a sandwich pick in the first round, is a pure hitter with tremendous upside. A standout third baseman at the University of Mississippi a year ago, Coghlan is a player the team wants to see at second base. So he will get plenty of work at second, a position where power is less of an issue as opposed to a corner-infield position.

On the mend: West is scheduled a visit to see Dr. James Andrews to check out inflammation in his left throwing shoulder. He hasn't thrown since Feb. 22.

What they're saying: "I think he's going to be really good. He has all the tools, and he has a lot of energy. And he's a great guy." -- Marlins outfielder Cody Ross on De Aza
 

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