The best catcher in recent history, Yadier Molina, started off this spring strong with a 2-2 outing. However, when Molina is not in the lineup, who should be his backup?
As of right now, two names could fill in the blank come opening day: Carson Kelly or Eric Fryer. The decision is far from automatic as both come with their advantages and drawbacks.
Should the Cardinals choose the highly praised prospect?
The main advantage of this would be that Kelly would learn under the graces of Yadi. Hopefully, some of the Gold Glove magic and ability to handle a pitching staff would rub off. Additionally, it would allow Kelly to see what the show is like for an extended period of time, which might prove beneficial.
There is no doubt in my mind that when Molina has the day off, Kelly can fill his position nicely. However, the key word in that sentence is WHEN.
The Cardinals have already stated that their aim is to have Yadi catch close to another 140 games this year or roughly 1200 innings. Not much room here for a young kid in Kelly to get many ABs. Since there is no DH to help Kelly get his fair share of hacks in, he would have to wait and wait and wait until Molina is in need of rest.
Yes, the Cardinals could use him as a pinch hitter on the other days, but he would still be losing out on valuable time. All in all, Carson Kelly could handle the role of backup. But, it is not the best option for the future.
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) February 27, 2017
Or go with the returning Eric Fryer.
Although he does not have the hype surrounding Carson Kelly (mostly because the dude is 31), there is a lot to love about Eric Fryer. He plays with the same intensity 110% no matter what the situation is.
A lot of my love towards him came from his high fly ball to center field in yesterday’s spring training game. The ball should have been caught, but as is baseball sometimes, it pops out of the CF’s glove.
Most guys would just be cruising into 2nd and stay there, or they would have to hustle to even get there. Not Fryer! He was running hard all the way and ended up on 3rd. I know that this may sound like a small thing, but in its the small things here and there that create runs and opportunities.
He may not be the flashy new guy that will be the cornerstone of a franchise. However, Eric Fryer plays baseball with an aggressiveness and intelligence that is seldom seen and always coveted.
If you ask me, I say this guy is the choice for backup catcher. He will give you all he has until he has nothing left to give. Meanwhile, Carson Kelly can gain more experience in AAA which will only benefit him.
Photo captured by Charles LeClaire – USA Today Sports