Minor league free agents come in every variety. The grizzled veteran trying to hang on and provide depth, or the once top prospect who may have been over-rated from the start, maybe a late bloomer that has the talent but has yet to package it all together consistently.
Though most have lost their luster, some still glimmer on the rare occasion. The majority of minor league free agents are just that, minor leaguers. They've spent six years with an organization and have yet to crack the 25-man roster for good. While some have seen time in the show (and collected that sizable paycheck), it's cups of coffee in September or sometimes 15 or 20 games to fill in while the starter tweaked a muscle for most of these guys.
My goal is to sift through the remaining class of minor league free agents to see if there are any more hidden gems out there. This post will look exclusively at catchers and corner infielders with middle infielders, outfielders, starters, and relief pitchers coming next. It is extremely unlikely that a star caliber player or ace starter will be there for the taking, but useful bench guys, #5 starters and middle relievers are available in spades.
Baseball America's insanely useful Minor League Free Agent Tracker was abused for this article, as were their player cards, archives, and rankings.
Want to find a back up for your back up catcher without shelling out a million bucks? Try one of these guys.
Anderson was originally a 4th round pick in 2005 by the Cardinals from Simi Valley High where he signed for $250K. Coming out of the draft he was considered a solid hitter with good defense. His first four years were excellent, ranking as high as the #3 prospect for St. Louis after a good 2007 season where he hit .298/.350/.388 as a 20 year old in AA. He even cracked the top 100 at 85. Scouts loved his swing but weren't impressed by his defense as much as before. He hit .281 in his first crack at AAA the next year but only managed to play in 73 games.
He still was a top 5 prospect in the system but was blocked by Yadier Molina. The last two years he has struggled at AAA hitting .225 in 2012 and .224 in 2013 with the White Sox AAA affiliate. He's earned 68 plate appearances in the majors between 2010 and 2013, hitting .210/.265/.274, including going 1-28 in 10 games this year. If he can regain his stroke, he could be a serviceable 3rd catcher for a team and could fill in as back up if an injury occurs.
If you want major league experience, Flores is easily the best option available. He hit .213/.248/.329 in his last season in the bigs, playing in 83 games for the Nationals. Last year he signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers in January, then hit an abysmal .164 in 22 games before being cut. He latched on with the Rays a couple of weeks later and didn't fare well there either.He only hit .178/.212/.244 in 180 at bats while throwing out 30% of runners. Flores still has good defense even if his bat has jumped off a cliff, so he should still be in consideration for back up duty or depth.
There are also a number of defensive specialists available including: Lars Davis, 28 years old (Best Defensive Catcher 2012, COL), Rob Johnson, 31 (2008, SEA), Beau Seabury, 28 (2011, COL), Taylor Teagarden, 30 (2005-2008, TEX), JR Towles, 29 (2005-2007, HOU), or Mark Wagner, 29 (2006-2008, BOS)