With Vogt and Phegley currently out, A’s prospect Bruce Maxwell is getting his shot
In baseball things can change and change quickly. Just about two weeks ago I assessed the Oakland Athletics’ catching situation after they traded their top catching prospect Jacob Nottingham to the Milwaukee Brewers for slugger Khris Davis. It appeared, at the time, that the A’s would have the same four options at catcher as they did in 2015 and those four players did quite well as a group throughout the season.
Things with the A’s catching situation haven’t changed dramatically, but some things have changed, putting a couple of newer names into the mix. They may even have a chance to play with the big league club in 2016.
With Stephen Vogt still recovering from elbow surgery and Josh Phegley experiencing some shoulder surgery while at the same time both suffering from the flu, last year’s catching duo at Triple-A Nashville catchers Carson Blair and, the recently re-signed, Bryan Anderson along with a another duo, are all getting a heavy workload already this spring.
After Blair and Anderson, the A’s have catcher Bruce Maxwell, 25, who was a second round pick by the team in 2012, as well as 30-year-old Matt McBride. McBride, normally an outfielder and first baseman, was recently signed to a minor league deal by the Athletics on the premise that he enter camp as a catcher. However, it is the young Maxwell who is getting the closest look.
Originally Maxwell began his college career at Birminghan-Southern College as a power-hitting corner infielder, but moved to catcher his sophomore year just before being drafted. It’s taken four seasons but the youngster is finally beginning to feel at home behind the plate.
He had to stop focusing on hitting home runs and began focusing solely on learning to play a new position. This is not unusual as the A’s saw with shortstop Marcus Semien last season, his first at shortstop. During the period Semien was concentrating on his defense with third base coach Ron Washington he had a slight slump at the plate during June and July. Still Semien started strong at the plate and finished strong, all while consistently improving on defense.
Maxwell’s plight to become a catcher has been similar to Semien’s plight to learn to play shortstop last season. For more on Maxwell you can read the remainder of my column on Today’s Knuckleball by following the link below.