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Thursday, December 21, 2006


Fick rejoins the team, at least at the Minor League level; 3 Catchers?

With Harper sent done to AAA (outrighted, with the possibility someone else would claim him), the question became, who will back-up Brian Schneider? Well, Robert Fick joins the recent Rule 5 pick-up Jesus Flores as contenders for the back-up role. Jesus Flores is a rule 5 pick-up and must remain on the major league roster for the entire season (or be given back, and other odd little rules). Considering that the Nationals seemed to like playing with just one declared catcher, Schneider, in past seasons (with Fick and the like bouncing between the infielder and catcher column on the roster), the likelihood of Fick’s rejoining the team, with Flores cemented to the major league roster, would seem to be slim, no?

On the other hand, there was talk of the need for a back-up at first-base, so there is room for another utility man. Other potential back-up first-basemen appear to be less likely to join the team in that limited capacity (at least that is what I’ve read concerning Larry Broadway).

So, will the Nationals actually enter the season with three “catchers”? One that sometimes struggles at the plate (Schneider), one that struggles behind the plate (Fick), and one that was last seen in high A ball (Flores)?

Flores is now 21 and has played three seasons in the minors. He played at the Rookie level and Low A in his first season. He played a combined 48 games that season, with an batting average of .319 at the Rookie level, and .333 at the Low A level. He then spent the entire 2005 season, his second, in A ball, hitting just .216 in 82 games. In 2006, he advanced to A+, or High A level baseball. In 120 games, he hit .266 and 21 home-runs and 32 doubles. Those 21 home-runs in 2006 is both a milestone for most hit by him, and the first time he went past 7 home-runs in a season. As a fielder, he had 5 errors in the Rookie league in 2004 and 7 errors in A ball in 2005. The 2006 stats appear to be missing on Baseball Cube.

Considering Flores should probably now be exploring AA pitching instead of major league pitching, there does seem to be some need to have an extra body on the team that can fill in at catcher for small stretches.

And that’s my attempt to write a column length article about Fick getting a minor league contract and an invitation to Spring Training.

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