By Kirby Arnold
Pop quiz time: Besides Adam Moore, can you name two other catchers in the Seattle Mariners’ system?
It can’t be Miguel Olivo because he isn’t officially a Mariner yet. Olivo took his physical exam today in Seattle but an announcement isn’t expected until tomorrow at the earliest, and it’s possible it won’t happen then because the reports must be analyzed. We’re told nothing of concern came out of the physical; only that the right people still need to review it.
So, back to the question: Besides Moore, who else is catching in the Mariners organization?
Jeff Clement? Sorry, he’s long gone to the Pirates. And he’s been playing first base.
Rob Johnson? He spent his first full day today as a San Diego Padre, having been traded on Tuesday.
Ben Davis? You’re still stuck in another forgettable Mariners year, 2004.
If you said Chris Gimenez, you deserve the most golden of stars because outside Moore and soon-to-be-Mariner Olivo, he’s the only other catcher officially in the spring training mix.
Gimenez, who signed with the M’s as a free agent, got 169 at-bats with the Indians this year, batting .160. Before you say he’s a perfect fit for the Mariners, he had a career game against the Royals Aug. 27 when he went 2-for-4 with a walk, double, home run and four RBI.
Who are the other catchers of note with the Mariners these days? Good question, so here are a few worth remembering (in case you’d forgotten):
• Steven Baron, the 33rd overall draft pick in 2009, turned 20 on Dec. 7 but he’s still extremely young in his development. Baron batted .253 with the Everett AquaSox this year, then .182 in 154 at-bats after being promoted to Class A Clinton.
• Brandon Bantz batted .288 at Clinton and .241 in 79 at-bats at AA West Tennessee, and he’s playing winter ball for the Adelaide Bite in Australia, where he’s batting .288 with a .382 on-base percentage.
• Trevor Coleman, picked in the ninth round in 2009, batted .216 at Class A High Desert. He played for the Mariners in the fall co-op league.
• Korean Ji-Man Choi batted .378 in 135 at-bats at rookie-level Peoria and .302 in 11 games at Class A High Desert. There’s little doubt within the organization that he’ll hit, although his catching skills are raw and the language barrier is something to be wary of. For those reasons, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he winds up at first base.
• Christian Carmichael is the Mariners’ sixth-round draft pick this year. Even though he’s 5-foot-11, 185 pounds, fresh out of high school and went only 3-for-30 in his first pro experience at rookie-level Peoria, scouts before the draft were impressed with his arm and the power potential in his bat.
None of those names stirs you? Can’t blame you for that because even though the Mariners value each of those guys, it’s too early in their development to say they’re certain to be big leaguers. With that, here are a couple others we wouldn’t be surprised to see with the Mariners at spring training:
• Guillermo Quiroz is a free agent but he’s also one of those guys you expect to see at spring training every year with the Mariners. It only seems that way, because between stints in the Seattle organization in 2006 and 2009, he played in the Texas and Baltimore organizations. He batted .282 at Class AA West Tennessee.
• Josh Bard, a veteran who split time between Class AAA Tacoma and the Mariners this year, also is a free agent looking for work. Like this year, he’d be a positive presence among young players and could be insurance if Adam Moore struggles.
• Jamie Burke spent the past year in the Nationals organization and despite being 38 he’s not about to call it a career and stay home in his native Roseburg, Ore. Burke is shopping himself around again and likely will be one of those guys who signs with some team just before spring training. He’d like to come back to the Mariners.