Well we know now that Salvador Perez will miss the entire season with a UCL injury that requires Tommy John surgery. The Royals have said they are willing to with Cam Gallagher and Meibrys Viloria, but they haven’t closed the door on going outside the organization as well, with free agent Martin Maldonado a possibility.
But the leap from High-A ball would be a big one for Viloria, and Maldonado might be expensive and doesn’t quite fit in with a youth movement. Is there another option? Ned Yost presented an interesting third direction when he mentioned the possibility of slugger Frank Schwindel going behind the plate, saying he is already been catching some bullpens lately.
Cody Tapp of 610 Sports has more.
Here is evidence of Ned talking about Frank Schwindel possibly catching pic.twitter.com/SX3WrbPGqs— Cody Tapp (@codybtapp) March 6, 2019
Schwindel spent most of his time behind the plate in college at St. John’s, and in his first pro season in Idaho Falls after the Royals drafted him in 2013. He caught just 38 games in 2014 and was behind the plate just four times in 2015, the last time he would make an appearance in a game at catcher.
I always wondered why they moved Schwindel off catcher so fast. Had a decent arm back there and seemed like a good spot for an RHH with power even if he wasn't a great defensive catcher.— Clint Scoles (@ClintScoles) March 6, 2019
Just so we’re all clear, Schwindel was drafted as a catcher. He caught over 300 innings back in 2014 and threw out 39.6% of would be base stealers at Lexington. Also allowed 13 passed balls. ♂️ https://t.co/9ENWq81yPm— Royals Farm Report (@RoyalsFarm) March 6, 2019
But if he were able to make the transition back to behind the plate, it might provide the Royals with their best offensive option. The 26-year old Schwindel has mashed at AAA Omaha the last two seasons, hitting .286/.336/.506 with 24 home runs in 134 games last year. He finds himself blocked at first base by Ryan O’Hearn, so moving to catcher be the opportunity he needs to get his career going.
Is this really a possibility? Spring training is for trying new things, like the short-lived experiment to see if Cheslor Cuthbert could handle second base. You don’t see too many players make the transition to what may be the most difficult defensive position on the field, but it does happen. Tony Wolters was an infielder who went behind the plate to become a backup catcher for the Rockies, and one of the best defenders at his position. Evan Gattis was a catcher who moved to the outfield, but the Astros moved him back to catcher to provide more roster flexibility.
So it can be done. And it’s worth a shot. This could very well be posturing as they negotiate with Martin Maldonado on a contract. But this is the time to try new things, and I want a chance to see Frank the Tank get into the lineup.