Potential of Oakland Athletics’ Catcher Josh Phegley


We all know that coach Bob Melvin swears on platoon swaps working wonders for his Oakland Athletics‘ lineup, and he has quite a platoon at the catcher position entering the 2015 season.

The left-handed hitting Stephen Vogt will likely square off against right-handed pitchers more times than not, but who will be the right-handed hitter to face southpaws? Look no further than 27-year-old former Chicago White Sox first-round draft pick, Josh Phegley.

In December of 2014 the A’s and White Sox paired up to make a block-buster trade that sent Jeff Samardzija to Chicago. In return, the Athletics received Phegley, Chris Bassitt, and Marcus Semien from the White Sox.

The 5’10”, 255-pound stocky catcher was drafted out of Indiana University and performed exceptionally well in the White Sox’s minor league system before making into to the big leagues in 2013. He has played in 292 games at the Triple-A level, amassing 46 home runs, 170 RBIs, and a .278/.330/.477 slash-line.

Not only does Phegley posses a fantastic bat, but he is also a tremendous defensive player as well. In six minor league seasons, he has accumulated a .992 fielding percentage and has thrown out 46% of base stealers; 213 steals allowed and 179 runners thrown out. Comparatively, top-notch major league catcher Yadier Molina‘s career mark of throwing out base-stealers sits at 45%.

Although he has only played in 76 major league games in his career, the offensive numbers from the minor leagues have not translated well. In 241 career at-bats Phegley has seven home runs, 29 RBIs, and a .207/.211/.332 slash-line. 16 of his 50 career hits have gone for extra bases, but the free-swinger has racked up 51 strikeouts, while walking just five times.

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His defensive numbers have dipped just slightly as well at the major league level. His fielding percentage is .989 in the major leagues, but he has only committed six errors in 538 chances (putouts + assists + errors) in 605.1 innings, which is still very efficient.

Phegley has allowed 36 stolen bases and thrown out just 15 runners in 75 games behind the dish (one appearance at second base) to bring his caught stealing percentage down to 29%. While you may think that the drop-off from 45% in the minor leagues to 29% in the major leagues is significant, his percentage still puts him above league average, which sits at 26%.

It will come down to how well Phegley plays in Spring Training to determine whether he will open the season as the starting catcher for the AAA-affiliate Nashville Sounds or as the back-up catcher to Vogt. Phegley could make his Oakland debut in front of his new hometown team for the second game of the season when the Texas Rangers will likely have Derek Holland on the bump. His .474 slugging percentage against lefties in his past three seasons of AAA ball would be put to the test instantly.

We are seven days away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training to begin preparations for the upcoming season. We will have more coverage of the Oakland Athletics during Spring Training here at Golden Gate Sports.

Next: Athletics Lineup Prediction