The KC Royals invited three catchers to spring training, on top of the three catchers already on their 40-man roster. The main reason to invite more catchers to camp is to have someone to catch ALL the pitchers. The Royals have 29 pitchers expected to be in camp when official workouts begin on February 21st.
The real competition in terms of catchers will come between Manny Pina and Brayan Pena for the backup job to Salvador Perez (more to come on that during spring training).
So what about those other three guys?
Cody Clark re-signed with the Royals after spending the 2011 season with Triple-A Omaha. There he hit .233 in 51 games. Most likely he will return to Omaha and be the backup to whoever loses the big league backup battle.
The Royals signed Max Ramirez, the one-time Texas Rangers prospect, in the offseason. Ramirez split 2011with three Pacific Coast League teams, hitting .278 combined over 83 games. It will be interesting to see where he ends up because he could be the wild card and win the big league backup job.
Julio Rodriguez was acquired along with pitcher Antonio Cruz for infielder Wilson Betemit from the Detroit Tigers last summer. He was having a good season in Lakeland (the Tigers High-A team) before the trade (.283), but he struggled after the trade with High-A Wilmington. He hit just .219 in the pitcher-friendly league.
The good thing is, he doesn’t strike out (just 37 times in 299 at-bats in 2011). Big league camp will be good for him so the Royals can get a better look at him and he can work with some of the coaches. I expect him to return to Wilmington and work with new manager Vance Wilson (a former big league catcher).
*Check back tomorrow for a look at more of the Royals non-roster invitees.