What to Make of Angel Salome?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Fatal Flaw? - Angel Salome, C, MIL

Angel Salome's favorite book must be "The Little Engine that Could." At 5'7", this pint-sized hitting machine is opening eyes and raising questions about whether a catcher of such small stature can be a quality everyday player.

As a hitter, Salome has put up numbers ranging from solid to spectacular;

Age 18 - .235/.271/.321 in Rk
Age 19 - .347/.399/.570 in Rk & A-
Age 20 - .292/.349/.447 in A-
Age 21 - .318/.341/.465 in A+
Age 22 - .356/.403/.538 in AA

While Salome doesn't walk much, he doesn't strikeout much either as exemplified by a career K/BB ratio of just under 2/1. In general, catchers with a .320/.367/.491 minor league line would draw considerable hype and high prospect rankings, but his stature has left many wondering where he fits in the big picture.

As a defender, Salome still needs work by all accounts, but his arm is just shy of howitzer status. As a former college catcher of smaller stature (5'9"), being well under 6' can actually be an advantage in providing a low target for pitchers and keeping compact throwing mechanics. Charles Johnson signaled the start of an era of taller catchers being the prototype, but as Eric Munson already knows, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia may soon find out, fielding the position is pretty damn hard for a player above 6'1". This may play to Salome's advantage.

At the major league level, no catcher I was able to find is listed as shorter than 5'9". In fact, there are many more major league catchers above 6'0" than below. Obviously Ivan Rodriguez is the biggest name on the 6' and under list, but Russ Martin (5'10") and Dioner Navarro (5'9") are also having considerable success as catchers of smaller stature. Still, these players are the exception, not the rule and there really is no track record for a 5'7" catcher having any sort of success at the big league level. With that said, for an organization to hand the reigns to Salome would be a tremendous leap of faith.

To say Salome won't be a quality major leaguer based on his height is a bit premature, but wondering if his size will keep him from receiving a fair shot isn't. Most scouts, especially older ones, will be the first to admit that they look at a player and instantly try to compare him to someone familiar. With no comparison available, Salome may have difficulty finding an opportunity to break the mold.

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