1999 Rookie Catchers
Few youngsters make an immediate impact at this demanding position, but there's never a shortage of candidates, and the 1999 season was no exception.
Among rookies who got at least a look-see, if not full-time jobs, were Anaheim's Ben Molina, Mike Figga of Baltimore, Mark Johnson with the White Sox, the Indians' Einar Diaz, Atlanta's Pascual Matos, Colorado's Henry Blanco, the Dodgers' Paul LoDuca, Milwaukee's Charlie Greene, Philadelphia's Gary Bennett, San Diego's Ben Davis and Wiki Gonzalez, and Doug Mirabelli at San Francisco.
Diaz, Davis, Blanco and Johnson got the most playing time, though the last name shared the job with veteran Brook Fordyce, and didn't hit very well.
When Sandy Alomar, the Indians' veteran All-Star catcher was sidelined, Diaz, 26, a right-handed batter, stepped into the breach and helped guide Cleveland to another A.L. Central Division title. While a decent hitter for average, though without much power, Diaz' greatest contributions were in cutting down would-be base stealers and as a solid handler of pitchers.
"Einar has played well for us," said Indians' general manager John Hart. "We're fortunate to have him to step in for Sandy when we needed him."
Davis, 22, a switch-hitter, wasn't called up from the minor leagues by the Padres until June 23, but made the most of the rest of the season. He batted .319 with three homers and 15 RBI in his first month with the Padres, and threw out 12 of the first 21 runners attempting to steal. His defensive skills are exceptional.
"If he keeps it up, he should get consideration as the rookie of the year," said Padres manager Bruce Bochy.
Our choice as catcher, largely on the basis of having played well over almost a full season, is Diaz, though Davis certainly merited consideration because of his obvious talents.
#2 | Diaz Bio & Stats | League Awards
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