11/19/23 : Annual Phillies Minor League Player Notes - Catchers - Part Two
Updated: Nov 20
Last off-season I started a different writing venture - rather than producing a hard copy version of what was an annual Phillies Minor League Digest I went with a new approach and posted a series of articles on the webpage instead. A large portion of the digest was my player notes - views that are not entirely built upon seasonal or short term stats - while I referenced them I relied more upon my observations and feedback from players and coaches.
This off-season we continue the series “Annual Phillies Minor League Player Notes”with profiles presented in groupings by defensive positions. I intend to offer notes on every stateside player I watched perform this past season that finished the 2023 season with the organization. I can attest that I actually watched most every Phillies minor league game each evening, attended practices and interacted with a vast amount of players, coaches, scouts and front office folks. Recently I sent a couple questions to the players - asked them what was their biggest personal takeaway from the 2023 season and what they are focusing on this off-season to prepare for 2024. Where I have responses I will include them in the notes. Also where I’m able I will include feedback from coaches and player development leadership.
The initial set of twenty articles were on the pitchers - if you missed them here’s a link to article 20, it contains within it links to the other 19 pitcher’s articles - https://www.philliesbaseballfan.com/post/11-17-23-annual-phillies-minor-league-player-notes-pitchers-part-twenty.
Today we focus on group two of the catchers. There are twenty-one catchers that we will present notes on in groups of five as listed below.
Group Two : Vito Friscia, Aramis Garcia, Herbert Iser, Kehden Hettiger, Ryan Leitch
Link to previous catchers articles :
Group One : Lou Albrecht, Kliubert Avila, Jose Colmenarez, Arturo De Freitas, Jordan Dissin - https://www.philliesbaseballfan.com/post/11-18-23-annual-phillies-minor-league-player-notes-catchers-part-one
The following groups will be discussed in future articles :
Group Three : Rafael Marchan, Jorge Mendez, Andrick Nava, Jackie Pertuz, Anthony Quirion
Group Four : Caleb Ricketts, Cody Roberts, Leonardo Rondon, Gustavo Sosa, Eduardo Tait, Jared Thomas
So we continue - the second article in the 2023 series on catchers ⚾️🤓.
Vito Friscia - 26 years old - drafted in 40th round of the 2019 draft from Hofstra University, NY
2023 Stats : played in 13 games for AAA Lehigh Valley posting a .263/.383/.500 slash line in 47 plate appearances with 3 home runs and 6 RBIs. Defensively caught in seven games (57.2 innings) and recorded a perfect fielding percentage - threw out 8 of 17 base stealers (47 %). He also pitched an inning. Played for Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic and in the European Championship where he went 9 for 21 (.429) with three doubles.
2023 Notes : after being a lineup regular with Reading in 2022 Vito spent the majority of his time this season on the development list (inactive roster status) at Lehigh Valley. He served seven different stints on the inactive list. When he did play he performed well, the right hand hitter can swing the bat, when he puts the ball in play it’s usually with a high velocity impact. Has a tremendous attitude and is acknowledged as an outstanding teammate. Works hard and is always ready to play, I remember his days in the Gulf Coast League as a leader and a take charge presence. He creates value with a team first attitude - an Erik Kratz type player. Will now look for an opportunity elsewhere - fine young man, we wish him well.
2024 Projection : released 11/7/23
Aramis Garcia - 30 years old - signed as a free agent 2/16/23 from Orioles organization
2023 Stats : played in 53 games for AAA Lehigh Valley with a .251/.295/.523 slash line in 210 plate appearances with 11 doubles, 14 home runs and 44 RBIs. Also played three rehab games with Jersey Shore. Defensively had a .985 fielding percentage in 49 games - threw out 12 of 56 (21 %) base stealers. He hit nine of his home runs and drove in 26 of his RBIs in 24 August/September games.
2023 Notes : a veteran presence who has played in 301 major league games with the Giants, A’s and Reds, he was a steadying team leader at Lehigh Valley. Is a decent receiver with a strong throwing arm, has worked hard in his career to get better defensively. A right handed hitter who has shown plus power especially to the pull side, can turn on fastballs. Spent a couple stints on the injured list, the longest from May 27th to a rehab activation with Jersey Shore on July 1st. When he returned to the LHV active roster was very good both offensively and defensively as a lineup regular as he hit .290 (36 for 124) in the last three months of the season.
2024 Projection : was eligible for free agency but re-signed with Phillies - will compete in big league spring training.
Herbert Iser - 25 years old - drafted in 23rd round of the 2019 draft from Dallas Baptist University
2023 Stats : played in 23 games posting a .229/.308/.371 slash line in 78 plate appearances with 3 home runs and 8 RBIs for Reading. Defensively caught in 17 games and had a .982 fielding percentage. Threw out 7 of 25 base stealers (28 %).
2023 Notes : played sparingly this season at Reading spending the majority of his time on the development list. The left handed hitter has pull side power - hit one of the longest home runs ever to right field at ShoreTown Ballpark when he played for Jersey Shore. Has very solid catching skills, both receiving and throwing. Very welcoming young man who was born in Jamaica, we met his dad this spring at the complex as well, another good fella.
2024 Projection : in the mix for an upper level role in spring training.
Kehden Hettiger - 19 years old - drafted in 11th round of the 2023 draft from Sierra Canyon HS, Chatsworth, CA
2023 Stats : played in 10 games with the FCL Phillies and posted a .370 OBP in 27 plate appearances (four hits, six walks). Defensively he shined throwing out 7 of 15 base stealers (47 %) with a perfect fielding percentage in 52 innings played.
2023 Notes : we’ve seen him in a couple games - first impressions are that he’s got a canon for an arm - the type that can be a defensive weapon. Offensively he’s a switch hitter - can hit the baseball a very long way as witnessed in batting practices. Has quick hands.
FCL Manager Shawn Williams : “First game he played, I remember a first and third situation, guy from first takes off and he threw an absolute seed to second base. Can really throw and has good hands. Also like how he looks in the box, all the tools are there. Another young man who is gonna be exciting to see this spring.”
2024 Projection : a solid spring might win an opening day spot with the Threshers.
Ryan Leitch - 22 years old - signed as an un-drafted free agent 8/1/22 - Marshall University
2023 Stats : played in 45 games with Low A Clearwater and produced a slash line of .257/.326/.418 in 178 plate appearances with 6 doubles, 7 home runs and 23 RBIs - drew 13 walks. Had a strong month of August - 15 for 47 (.319) with 3 doubles, 3 home runs and 6 RBIs. Defensively posted a .998 fielding percentage in 437 chances - threw out 17 of 78 base stealers (22 %).
2023 Notes : an excellent thrower which we first reported witnessing in initial practices at Carpenter Complex after he signed. He has the classic behind the ear catcher’s release. Began the season in extended spring training continuing to hone his overall defensive skills, was activated by the Threshers on 5/9/23 coinciding with the promotion of Caleb Ricketts to Jersey Shore. A right handed hitter who has pop and ability to square up and drive the baseball. Has nine career home runs in 191 AB’s - an occurrence of a home run per every 21 AB’s.
Ryan’s reflections : “My biggest personal takeaway from this year was that when you’re struggling or not performing how you think you should, it’s easy to have every negative thought circulate in your head. So it’s important to always remain positive and self reflect instead of getting down on yourself. I’m focusing on my defense this off-season, I made huge strides with it in spring training so I want to continue to do that and become the best defensive catcher that I can be.”
2024 Projection : in the mix for an opening day roster spot with Jersey Shore.
Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️
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