How good is the catching duo for Salem Red Sox?
If you asked me what the weakest position in the Boston Red Sox system was at this time last year, I probably would've said catcher. Now, if you'd ask me what the strongest position in the Boston system is, I might say catcher.
It's incredible what adding a star like Kyle Teel will do. Teel isn't the only one who turned the tides, though.
Elih Marrero continues to be the best defensive catcher in the system and one pitchers have raved about. However, Enderso Lira arrived in Single-A last year and is making a run for that title.
Ronald Rosario broke out last season and showed good potential with his bat. Meanwhile, Stephen Scott mashed in Triple-A, and Nathan Hickey continued to prove that his bat could carry him to the Majors.
Look no further than the projected Single-A duo for the best proof of this thought.
Johanfran Garcia and Brooks Brannon are the two catchers in question.
As I've talked about plenty in this article, Salem's ballpark is not hitter-friendly. The team leader in home runs was Albert Feliz, a massive power bat who spent the entire season in Single-A (333 plate appearances). Even he only hit 10 home runs.
Brooks Brannon appeared in six games for Salem. The right-handed hitter mashed three home runs and drove in nine runs over 25 plate appearances.
While his defense is a question mark, there are no worries about his offense. The 19-year-old catcher has all the tools to hit for power. His short sample size in Single-A proved he's ready to mash. Will we see continued success at the plate? How will his defense improve?
Then there's Johanfran Garcia. Teel is alone at the top of the Red Sox catcher prospects rankings. I'd put Garcia alone in a tier barely below him, though.
The right-handed hitter hit .203/.279/.305 with three doubles and one home run in Single-A. He drove in five runs, scored eight more, and stole three bases in 15 games (68 plate appearances). Garcia opened a lot of eyes with his stellar play in the FCL. Despite the slashline not looking great in Single-A, the positives outweighed the negatives.
The 19-year-old has all the tools in his arsenal. He is solid defensively with a good arm, has decent athleticism for the position, and produces big-time with the bat. Does his game take the next natural progression in each area? Maybe he can cut back on the strikeouts (24) and pump up the walks (5).
With both being just 19, we should see Brannon and Garcia spend a good chunk of their seasons in Single-A. Will they prove to be the real deal? Can one separate from the other? Imagine watching them take turns mashing in the middle of the lineup. And those nights when they both play? That's fireworks waiting to happen.