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Braves organizational depth preview: Catcher

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Oakland Athletics Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

With Spring Training fully underway, we are doing a daily look into the organizational outlook of each position in the Atlanta Braves system. In this article we are going to evaluate how trades have impacted the team's depth at catcher, which was once one of their deeper positions.

40-man roster outlook

The Braves major acquisition of the off-season was acquiring Gold Glove catcher Sean Murphy from the Oakland Athletics. Since debuting in 2019, Murphy has been respected as one of the best defensive catchers and framers in the league, which should help an already strong Braves rotation. In addition to his prowess behind the dish Murphy is a solid hitter as he has 35 homers over the past two seasons to go along with a .321 OBP. On top of trading for Murphy, Atlanta was able to lock him up to a long-term extension this winter. They signed him to a six-year deal worth $73,000,000 with a $15,000,000 club option for a seventh season. The deal buys out at least three free agency seasons with the potential of a fourth.

The Braves have two other catchers on the teams 40-man roster, with the first being former All-Star Travis d’Arnaud. Whilst d’Arnaud did post solid numbers across the board last season, when you go underneath the surface and look at his analytics, he was essentially a league average hitter. With him being 34, it is fair to assume his numbers will slip a bit in 2023. However, d’Arnaud is a fantastic backup catcher due to his familiarity with the pitching staff, veteran leadership and the fact he is an average hitter which is better than most backups.

The third catcher on the 40-man roster is Chadwick Tromp. The former Giants backstop has only played in 34 career MLB games despite being set to turn 28 right before the start of the season. Tromp offers hardly anything at the dish with a career with a career wRC+ of 82, which is heavily inflated from the 467 wRC+ he had in his one game last season. In addition to that he has a career wOBA of .290 which is also boosted massively from last season. Tromp is nothing more than a depth piece for the team who can be an emergency backup catcher if someone was to go down. Although Tromp is not the type of player who should be starting multiple games at the big-league level.

Top prospects

This is where the Braves depth at catcher starts to get really thin due to the recent trades of Shea Langeliers and William Contreras. The Braves took Tyler Tolve in the 17th round of the 2021 draft, but he was unranked in our preseason prospect list. The Kennesaw State alum has 374 at bats over his first season and a half of pro ball posting a triple slash of .267/.339/.463 in addition to 14 total home runs with 133 strikeouts. He does need to work on bringing his swing and miss down in order to work his way through the organizational ladder. He is only 22 though, meaning he has plenty of time to improve.

The other notable catching prospect for the Braves who was not selected in 2022 is Javier Valdes. He reached Double A last season, which was his third year in the minors. The 24-year-old hit .254 with 13 home runs and an OPS of .826 which are fine numbers, but it is fair to question where he projects down the road.

2022 draftees

Perhaps the most interesting young catching prospect that the Braves have is Drake Baldwin, who was a third round pick in the 2022 MLB Draft. Baldwin has flashed some potential at the plate, but it remains to be seen whether or not he can stick behind the plate longterm. He made strides with his receiving and game calling, but is still lacking the arm strength and quickness that will be needed given the recent rule changes at the major league level.

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