Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Top 10 European catchers

I've always maintained that catcher is one of the hardest positions to play if you've grown up with the game, let alone being an import to it. I caught a little bit, but was never very good at it. It was mostly because no one else wanted to do it. And that was mostly softball, and not baseball. It was fun. It was also difficult.

It's not just catching the ball and returning it to the pitcher. It's calling the game, keeping the pitcher in his rhythm, controlling the running game, calling defenses, etc. Catching isn't easy, and there is a lot of unseen activity involved in it. The fact that Europeans are getting to the point where they have a chance to catch in the minors, and hopefully, the big leagues is an indication of  howmuch the game is progressing over here. So I really enjoyed seeing this list from baseball de world.

It is the top-10 European catchers:
The rankings are put together by Baseball de World Managing Editor Marvin Moore, who won four Swiss championships in six seasons while compiling an .863 winning percentage from 1993-1998 with the Therwil Flyers and Zurich Challengers. Moore has also been covering the European baseball scene since 2007.
As Marvin states:
From Italy to German, Spain and the Netherlands – and even Switzerland – the European baseball scene features an abundance of talented catchers.
The list:

1. Sidney de Jong, L&D Amsterdam (Netherlands)

Batted .333 (49-for-147)in 2009 with eight doubles, 21 RBIs, 30 walks and 31 runs scored in an “off” year after hitting .360 with six homers in 2008.

ed note - you may remember de Jong from the Dutch team that beat the Dominican Republic twice in the World Baseball Classic

2. Simon G├╝hring, Heidenheim Heidekopfe (Germany)

Former Brewers prospect with Herculean physique mashed the ball to the tune of .449 (40-for-89) with nine doubles, four homers, 22 runs scored, 16 RBIs and 11 stolen bases.

3. Dewis Navarro, Danesi Nettuno (Italy)

Spanish national team standout hit .339 (43-for-127) with two home runs, 12 doubles, 23 runs scored, and 26 RBIs in his first season in the Italian Baseball League.

4. Juan Angrisano, Fortitudo Bologna (Italy)

Batted .312 (49-for-157) with eight doubles, four homers, 36 RBIs and 22 runs scored in 2009.

5. Mark Duursma, Konica Minolta Pioniers (Netherlands)

Drew a whopping 40 walks last season while hitting .307 (46-for-150) with 39 runs scored, 31 RBIs, six doubles and five stolen bases. Cut down 18 of 44 base runners.

ed note - the walks and the arm out to be getting this guy a look

6. Ruben Cabrera, San Inazio (Spain)

The 28-year-old former minor leaguer is hitting .360 (9-for-25) with five walks and six RBIs heading into the fifth week of the Spanish League schedule.

7. Maikel Benner, L&D Amsterdam (Netherlands)

Hit .316 (50-for-158) with five doubles, 15 RBIs and 32 runs scored.

8. Trevor Howell, Dortmund Wanderers (Germany)

The 26-year-old Californian batted .411 (37-for-90) in 24 games last season with nine doubles, four home runs and 21 RBIs.

ed note - an American playing in Europe

9.  J.B. Tucker, Therwil Flyers (Switzerland)

The 28-year-old former Seattle Mariners prospect popped two doubles, a home run and tallied five RBIs in a recent exhibition game against top German club Solingen.

10. Orlando Diaz, FC Barcelona (Spain, pictured)

Entered the fifth week of the 2010 season batting .417 (10-for-24) with a homer, four doubles and 12 RBIs in six games.

A lot of Dutch prospects, but they do have one of the better established programs in Europe. As far as the numbers go, there is some misconception with a few people. Just because these guys put up high numbers doesn't mean the leagues are easy. I played, coached, and umpired last year, and saw as many 1-0, 2-1 games as blowouts. The numbers these guys are putting up are legitimate. They might not put up the same kind of numbers in the minors, but neither do a lot of college guys with the inflated numbers there. So don't be fooled by any of this. Hitting is hard, and if a player is putting up these kind of numbers, it means he can hit.

As far as the other positions:
This 2010 Top European Player Series will be updated each month with the sole purpose of allowing international baseball fans an opportunity to learn more about the top players in Europe. Rankings will be based on monthly individual statistics and strength of league.
Stay tuned.

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