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Catchers of the Mountain West

"The Ol' Catcha" as Diz used to call him. It's the hardest position in baseball to play. It will break your body and your teammates love you for it. They should give special awards to catchers. Oh, they do. In college baseball it's called the Johnny Bench Award and the Mountain West has a player on the watch list.

Kyle Gallegos is the heart and soul of San Jose State
Kyle Gallegos is the heart and soul of San Jose State
Terrell Lloyd

Catchers in the MWC

Who would think of such a subject. Me, I was a terrible catcher when I played. But, the team had no one else. It was my in. In the intervening years I have grown to appreciate the position and how complex it is. If you are a former catcher you have aches and pains that are the results of years in the squat. Closest thing to playing defensive line. I know I have a big toe on my right foot that had to have an operation a year or so back. I shouldn't have waited so long. Enough of that. Those who know baseball (and maybe those who don't) really appreciate the importance of a good catcher and I don't mean those that can only hit. I mean the ones who hit, maybe, .220 but can handle the pitching staff, know when the pitcher is doing fine or when he's done, and can handle the position; blocks, throws, situations. The position requires that you be a coach on the field. With all of that in mind, I thought it might be time to pay respects to the regulars in the MWC. I may end up being a bit of a homer in this post and I'm not ashamed of it. Read on.

Air Force
Brian Sicher (.234 in 64 AB)

Brian is the only experienced catcher on the team. He is not hitting much but he's beating the spread as the team is hitting only .223. Hmm, I guess he isn't beating the spread. The team has six catchers on the squad and they're all frosh except him. He's a junior. All those kids ought to pay attention to him and learn. Just as an aside but on point, he caught both games in a double header on March 15th. I did that and it's a killer. Here's to you, dude.

Fresno State
Trent Woodward (.318 and 2 home runs in 88 AB)

In the past few years the Bulldogs were blessed with two good catchers. Now they have a new one and he's a keeper. As you can see below coach Batesole is blessed with two good ones again. This allows him to give one a day off after catching so they're always fresh. They are both hitting a ton so it's working. When not catching, Trent and Taylor are hitting in the DH. Can't take these two bats out of the lineup. How lucky can you get. Trent is a redshirt junior.

Taylor Ward (.371 and 4 home runs in 89 AB)
Taylor is the leading hitter on the team. Nuff said there. I've said all I need to above other than Taylor is a sophomore and may not last after next season. The mutts are indeed fortunate.

Jordan Devencenzi (.317 and 82 AB)

This transfer from Delta College is in his first year at Nevada. He's sharing time with Teel but he's certainly getting his ABs and taking full advantage.

Ryan Teel (.194 in 31 AB)
Ryan is a junior and has been in the program for three years so he has experience. The only thing holding him back is his hitting. He's backing up a good hitting catcher.

New Mexico
Alex Real (.337 in 98 AB)

Alex is a junior and the other two catchers listed are freshmen. The catcher's top award in college baseball is the Johnny Bench Award. Ryan is on the watch list for this award. That says a lot about this guy. What more can I add?

San Diego State
Brad Haynal (.270 and 3 home runs in 74 AB)

Neither of the two regular catchers are hitting much but Brad is getting the bulk of the time in the squat. He's really picked it up in the last few games. There are two positions I overlook for low batting averages; catcher and shortstop. If he's doing the job other than the hitting part, he's gonna start. Guaranteed.

CJ Saylor (.250 in 28 AB)
That many at bats tells me his coach trusts him in the squat to give Haynal's legs a day off or two. That BA also would get you a starting position on many teams. The Aztecs are fortunate to have two catchers this good.

San Jose State
Kyle Gallegos (.296 in 98 AB)

I've watched this kid the whole season as the Spartans are my eye into the MWC. He's the heart and soul of the squad and you can see by his number of at bats that he's been there the whole time. He's been working with a staff that is short on experience and long on need of growing up. That means he spends a lot of time talking to the pitching coach on what's going on with those young arms. It would be nice to see this senior have some experienced and great arms out on the mound. In Kyle's case, I'm a homer. The Spartans depend on him and solely him.

Erik VanMeetren (.307 and 1 in 75 AB)

I watched Erik when the Rebels were in town and he handles those excellent starters well. Catching is anything but fun but catching those four starters must be a thing of pride for Erik. If he does his work well and they trust him, it's win all the way around; and they are.