05/10/2016 8:03 AM
Position Spotlight: Catcher
Legendary Yankees manager Casey Stengel once said, “No pitcher would be worth a darn without a catcher who could handle the hot fastball.” At undoubtedly one of the most important positions on the diamond, the AirHogs will open camp with 3 catchers handling the fastballs and guiding the staff as they prepare for the 2016 campaign. Juan Carlos Torres, Drew Carlile, and Michael Miller, all offseason signees, will be sharing the duties behind the plate.
Torres is the veteran of the group. The 27-year-old is a former member of the Mets organization. He started as a corner infielder for their affiliate in the Venezuelan Summer League before transitioning behind the plate. He came into his own as a catcher in 2010 when he caught 332.1 innings for their South Atlantic League affiliate in Savannah and fielded .989, committing just 4 errors and getting in on 5 double plays. In 7 professional seasons offensively, he has accumulated 231 hits and 114 RBI. Torres could be mentoring a fresh face to the professional ranks in Drew Carlile.
Carlile played 1st base and catcher for Bradley University in 2014 and 2015, smacking 7 HR and collecting 29 RBI his senior year for the Braves. The opening day starter behind the plate for his senior year, Carlile earned 2nd team All-Missouri Valley Conference honors. An accounting major, he also starred in the classroom, earning a spot on the MVC honor roll and the Capital One Academic All-American 1st team.
Hometown star Michael Miller rounds out the trio of offseason catching signees. The former 20th round selection of the San Diego Padres played his collegiate ball at Dallas Baptist University. He played 3 years for the Patriots, including 58 games in an outstanding 2013 season that saw him rack up 81 hits and a .333 average. He made appearances for the Padres’ affililiates in Eugene, Fort Wayne, and Lake Elsinore over 3 years in the San Diego organization, catching 240.2 innings for Fort Wayne and Lake Elsinore in 2015.