11/21/23 : Annual Phillies Minor League Player Notes - Catchers - Part Four
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 the final group of the catchers. There are twenty-one catchers that we now have presented notes on as listed below.
Group Four : Caleb Ricketts, Cody Roberts, Leonardo Rondon, Gustavo Sosa, Eduardo Tait, Jared Thomas
Links 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
Group Two : Vito Friscia, Aramis Garcia, Herbert Iser, Kehden Hettiger, Ryan Leitch - https://www.philliesbaseballfan.com/post/11-19-23-annual-phillies-minor-league-player-notes-catchers-part-two
Group Three : Rafael Marchan, Jorge Mendez, Andrick Nava, Jackie Pertuz, Anthony Quirion - https://www.philliesbaseballfan.com/post/11-20-23-annual-phillies-minor-league-player-notes-catchers-part-three
So we continue - the fourth article in the 2023 series on catchers ⚾️🤓.
Caleb Ricketts - 23 years old - drafted in 7th round of the 2022 draft from San Diego University, CA
2023 Stats : played in 70 regular season games (3 with FCL Phillies - rehab, 23 with Clearwater Threshers and 44 with Jersey Shore BlueClaws) producing a slash line of .270/.324/.387 in 299 plate appearances with 12 doubles, 4 triples, 4 home runs and 50 RBIs. Excelled at Clearwater hitting .368/.390/.547 in 100 plate appearances. Defensively had a .988 fielding percentage in 566 chances - threw out 23 of 94 base stealers (24 %). Played in the Arizona Fall League - 14 games - 53 plate appearances - .256/.358/.302 slash line with .660 OPS - 2 doubles, 5 RBIs, 4 walks, 5 runs scored.
2023 Notes : a left handed hitter with gap to gap drive, easy swing, good approach, can take the outside pitch the other way with power as well as pull the inside delivery for distance. Defensively he’s a take charge receiver, savvy. Has the ability to reach the major leagues. He was a huge part of the Clearwater Threshers first half Florida State League championship and earned a promotion to Jersey Shore on 5/9/23. Went on the injured list with a wrist injury on June 4th spending a good bit of time at the complex with the rehab team, also had a knee sprain. Was re-activated by Jersey Shore on 8/5/23 - had a strong month of September for the BlueClaws hitting .324 in 34 AB’s and a good post season where he homered and delivered a .375 OBP in eight plate appearances. Hit one the most impactful home runs of the year on 9/5/23 in the playoffs against Hudson Valley - a two run shot in the bottom of the 8th inning that erased a one run deficit and turned out to be the game winner.
2024 Projection : could break spring camp with AA level Reading else a return to Jersey Shore.
Cody Roberts - 27 years old - acquired in minor league rule 5 draft 12/7/22 from Orioles organization
2023 Stats : made 239 plate appearances in 72 games for Reading with a .214/.277/.349 slash line - 11 doubles, 6 home runs and 15 RBIs, 16 walks. Recorded a .984 fielding percentage in 507 chances and threw out 21 of 74 base stealers (28 %).
2023 Notes : is an excellent defender, this was his first season in the Phillies organization and he received a big league spring training invitation. Cody made strong impressions with his catching abilities in big league spring camp. First chatted with him in early February at the complex, very cordial and well spoken young man. Has a strong arm and very good mechanics that he continually strives to improve upon. Is also a versatile defender - played a few games in both right and left field this season and has played both first and third base previously in the Orioles organization. A right handed hitter who is better than the numbers indicated this year. Played collegiately at the University of North Carolina.
Cody’s reflections : “Big things I’m focusing on this off-season are to continue building on the receiving work I put in this year with coach Ray Ricker on the defensive side, and then getting back to the same swing/approach I had in 2022 at the plate. I’m going to be putting on about 15lbs this off-season to help hit the ball harder.”
2024 Projection : in the mix for a roster spot with AAA Lehigh Valley.
Leonardo Rondon - 19 years old - signed as an international free agent on 2/2/21 from Caracas, Venezuela
2023 Stats : played in 27 games with a slash line of .286/.389/.377 in 92 plate appearances for the FCL Phillies with two doubles, a triple, home run and 12 RBIs. Is a switch hitter - hit .333/.429/.450 in 60 AB’s as a left handed batter. Defensively played catcher, third base and second base - as a catcher had a .951 fielding percentage in 81 chances - threw out 4 of 19 base stealers (21 %).
2023 Notes : has great energy, readily evident that he truly loves playing baseball. A switch hitter who has strong bat to ball skills, we saw him more from the left side where he excelled but the swing isn’t much different as a right handed hitter. He’s a great deal of fun to watch play, is just into every play and is a leader on the field. We saw him defensively at third base and catcher as well as second base, the catching position is relatively new to him as he initially began playing there in 2022 DSL action. Versatility defensively is his ticket up the ladder along with his offensive skill set. Has strong baseball instincts and acumen - has picked up on catching well, arm strength is an area to improve upon. Best way to describe him is that he’s just a really good baseball player. Has quick hands with line drive gap to gap power. Likely could play any position asked.
FCL Phillies Manager Shawn Williams : “Is an exciting player, has great energy and brings it every day. Does all the little things to help you win, is the same guy every day. He's done a little bit of everything, caught, did a great job catching, got to play third and even second base. Just overall did a nice job. Will get a bunt down for you, steal a base, he’s just a baseball player and more importantly wants to win. He wants to play so bad, loves the game. When you watch him it’s like seeing a kid playing in the little league World Series, it’s just awesome how much he cares.”
Leonardo’s reflections : “My best experience was the opportunity to play in the USA, especially the experience in my catching, I love to play third base and catcher. I’m working hard on my catching this off season, that’s my goal for the next year, be better than this year. Let’s go! 💪🏼💪🏼💪🏼.”
2024 Projection : could break spring camp with the Threshers - really think he’s gonna do well in his career - bright future.
Gustavo Sosa - 22 years old - drafted in 10th round of the 2022 draft from South Mountain CC, AZ
2023 Stats : played in 22 FCL Phillies games, slash line of .239/.311/.418 in 74 plate appearances with 3 doubles, 3 home runs and 13 RBIs. Defensively recorded a perfect fielding percentage at catcher, first and third base.
2023 Notes : right handed hitter, was on the opening day roster for the Clearwater Threshers but a hamstring injury forced him to open the season on the IL. Wasn’t activated till 6/20/23 when he was assigned to the FCL Phillies roster. One of the most pleasant and positive people I’ve ever met in the organization, always upbeat. We’ve had the great pleasure of meeting his parents and girl friend at the complex as well - good people. Gus has good baseball skills both offensively and defensively, is one of the stronger throwing catchers in the organization and has home run power as a hitter, the ball goes a very long way when he gets it. Hit a grand slam against the FCL Blue Jays on 8/15/23 where I’m not sure that the baseball has yet to come down 👀. Played some first and third base this summer in order to get more AB’s on a very crowded FCL catching corp.
FCL Phillies Manager Shawn Williams : “He’s an awesome person. Same guy everyday and he’s got some great tools. Has a power bat and can really throw. He played a little third base this year which I think was good for him as well. Brings it every day and works very hard.”
2024 Projection : will compete for a Clearwater or Jersey Shore roster spot in spring camp.
Eduardo Tait - 17 years old - signed as an international free agent 1/15/23 - Panama City, Panama
2023 Stats : played in 44 games in the Dominican Summer League (DSL) posting a .333/.400/.517 slash line with 12 doubles, 3 triples and 3 home runs, 36 RBIs and 12 walks. Defensively had a .978 fielding percentage in 183 chances. Threw out 17 of 39 base stealers (44 %). He was selected as the organization player of the month for July - .340/.417/.566 slash line in 53 AB’s with 6 doubles, 2 home runs and 13 RBIs.
2023 Notes : a left handed hitter, he didn’t play stateside but I watched him quite often in DSL games on live stream feeds. Is an exciting young player. Earlier this season I asked Latin America Hitting Coordinator Edwar Gonzalez about him. He said that “Tait has shown power to all fields, K percentage is well above average yet he also hits for power, a rare combination for a sixteen year old.” He consistently squared the ball up in the feeds I watched. He has played international baseball for his country in multiple tournaments as a member of the under 18 national team. In his short professional stint he’s shown power to all fields along with the ability to consistently put the ball in play. Eduardo has shown progress behind the dish defensively and can also play third base. He was selected to play in the DSL all-star game. Multiple coaches have raved about his skill sets including a strong arm as a receiver, am eager to see him play in person.
2024 Projection : very possible that he plays stateside in the FCL next season.
Jared Thomas - 22 years old - drafted in 15th round of the 2023 draft from Loyola Marymount
2023 Stats : played in 14 games with the FCL Phillies and Clearwater Threshers - a total of 38 plate appearances. Had two doubles and seven walks in the FCL for a .444 OBP in 27 PA’s, had a hit and three walks in 11 PA’s with the Threshers for a .455 OBP. Defensively posted a .966 fielding percentage in 88 chances and threw out 5 of 29 base stealers (17 %).
2023 Notes : we’ve chatted with Jared a couple of times at the complex, is a very approachable and polite young man. Have seen him in a few live bullpen sessions and a couple games, small sample size however seems like he has solid receiving skills. Offensively has shown patience at the dish, willingness to accept walks - we have seen a short compact. Strong plate discipline was a remark made about him in Baseball America’s pre draft profile. Is a left handed hitter which is always a plus for the catching position as a tandem role. Played his first two collegiate seasons at the University of Miami before transferring to Loyola Marymount where he became the primary catcher.
Jared’s reflections : “I learned that you have to show up and be consistent every day. I am preparing for next season by getting my body physically ready by gaining a few pounds.”
2024 Projection : likely part of either Clearwater or Jersey Shore catching corps out of spring camp.
Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️
Note : I've partnered with Fanatics on Phillies Merchandise - if you would like to help support my website and articles here's a link to order merchandise - I get a small commission on any sales - thanks for the support.