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Will Catch For (Nearly) Free; A Look At Potential Catchers For Rays Camp

It's about that time of the year when teams starting handing out invitations to camp and the jersey numbers reach the mid 60s and 70s. The signing of Alvin Colina is likely the first of many we will see over the next few weeks. Colina, has been dubbed the new Michel Hernandez and that's a perfect comparision. 

When the Rays brought Hernandez back into the organization in 2008, he had extensive bus riding experience at the minor league level, but only a handful of Major League at-bats. Still, Hernandez was servicable when called upon and didn't embarrass the team. Looking at the numbers, Colina is likely to do the same. He has less than 10 plate appearances at the MLB level, but put up ok numbers the past two seasons at the AAA level. The Rays would have to have some terrible luck for him to ever make it into the MLB lineup, but he'll offer you replacement level play for a replacement level price.

In addition to Colina, I would expect the Rays to add one or two more backstops to the equation in the next 29 days. Without rehashing who is the starting catcher or who will be here opening day, the top four catchers in the organization are: Kelly Shoppach, Dioner Navarro, John Jaso and Jose Labaton. Behind those four are your Nevin Ashley/Jake Jefferies/Matt Spring types, but none are ready for MLB action if called upon. This is where you need the Colina/organization soldier types to fill out the organzational tree, especially in spring training where you want to limit the workload on the catchers you are really counting on.

With that said, I fully expect to see Shawn Riggans in the Rays camp when reporting day rolls around. Injuries have really held Riggans back from securing the backup position which was basically his the past two seasons. He was released in December and probably hasn't gotten many calls since hitting the open market. Nonetheless, we know he still has decent pop, and more importantly he has worked extensively with many members of the Rays pitching staff both young (Davis) and old (Shields, seriously he's the old man now). A healthy Riggans would provide as much security as a Jaso or Lobaton. Beyond Riggans, expect another organization solider type, whether young or old, to be added to the mix before mid-February.