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Kevin Goldstein on Taylor Teagarden

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Kevin Goldstein has a piece up at BP today rating the top 10 minor league catchers, and not surprisingly, Teagarden makes the cut, coming in at #4. Goldstein is a little more critical of him than I would have expected, though:

4. Taylor Teagarden, Rangers
Age: 23.6
Hitting: .313/.456/.583 at High-A (71 G)

Right here, we already have a pretty good-sized drop-off. After Teagarden missed nearly all of last year recovering from Tommy John surgery, the Rangers are being incredibly cautious with him. He doesn't throw between innings or in infield practice, and is catching in only about one-third of his games, otherwise getting in his at-bats as a designated hitter. When he does catch, he's still an excellent defender, with excellent blocking skills and a plus arm he's used to gun down more than 40 percent of attempted basestealers. Offensively, he's a bit stiff and mechanical--he's a walk machine with some power potential, but his bat is a bit slow, and he's often behind on good fastballs. Most see him as no more than a second-division starter, but if he can stay healthy, his defensive skills alone should give him a lengthy career.

I'd heard that Teagarden's offensive strength is in his secondary attributes -- his walks and power -- while there were big questions about whether he'd hit for average, I hadn't heard the complaint about the slow bat before. I'd be interested in hearing some more on this from folks who have watched him, but obviously, there aren't a ton of great fastballs in high-A, so this is something that will be tested as Teagarden advances.

In any case, a plus defensive catcher who draws walks and hits for power is going to have value even if he only hits .220.