Dodger’s top catching prospect Will Smith made his major league debut last Tuesday and went 2 for 4 with a single, double and he also threw out a runner trying to steal. He also hit a walk-off home run on Saturday night to lift the Dodgers to a very exciting win over the Phillies. Since his debut a week ago he has gone 4 for 14 (.286) with a home run and played solid defense. The kid is multi-talented. He’s a good hitter, has a solid glove and has a strong and accurate throwing arm. He’s the real deal for sure. Unfortunately he’s going to be heading back to Oklahoma City on Friday when Austin Barnes returns from the injured list. There’s nothing much we can do about it.
Whether we like it or not the Dodgers are going to be activating Barnes and there is no reason to have three catchers on the roster, at least not right now. With Barnes due back and Russell Martin still able to walk without a cane means the rookie doesn’t have a place on the roster, right now.
Surely Smith is ready for the majors. He’s the Dodger’s catcher of the future and there is no reason for him not to be the starting catcher starting in 2020. This year however it’s not his time. No matter how good he is and no matter how much we complain. The Dodgers are not simply going to cut Barnes or get rid of Martin. No, not right now.
If they were to do that there would be a problem. I would prefer them trade Barnes for a reliever or one maybe two prospects. That way Smith could catch every day and Martin, the veteran could mentor the young lad. It would make sense. Unfortunately injuries happen. Martin is really old and without Barnes, Martin getting hurt (which will happen again this season) means Rocky Gale becomes the second catcher and I would love to avoid any scenario that has Gale getting plate appearances.
That’s because Gale is excruciatingly bad at hitting. Barnes and Martin are not great either but they’ve been serviceable. All three of them are decent gloves and call a good game. Barnes is a great framer but again none of them are good hitters.
So with one good injury away from Rocky Gale catching 40% of the games, and the other catching prospect Keibert Ruiz still at Tulsa means the Dodgers are going to have to send Smith down again. That isn’t a knock on Smith at all. It’s just the realities of the situation. Good catchers are hard to find but it’s even more difficult to find serviceable backups. Don’t worry though, because Smith’s time is coming. He’s just going to have to wait a little longer for that to happen.