Flowers & Iantetta As Pierzynski Replacements

By Tommy Rancel //

After a July-injury to backup catcher, Ramon Castro,the Chicago White Sox called up former prospect Tyler Flowers to play behind A.J Pierzynski. Just a few weeks later, Flowers is now the team’s primary backstop following news of Pierzynski’s broken wrist on Tuesday. The White Sox will likely add a veteran catcher to the mix, but Flowers could – and should – get the lion’s share of playing time down the stretch.

After hitting .270 last season, Pierzynski was hitting .296 with 30 extra-base hits at the time of his injury. With his bat out of the lineup, the ChiSox will rely on their 25-year-old catcher to pick up the lost production. Flowers may not hit for the same high average; however, he does have solid pop (15 minor-league home runs this season and one major league) and will take a walk, something Pierzynski did not do much of (5% walk rate). Flowers walked in more than 14% of his plate appearances at Triple-A this season. He already has three walks in major-league eight games. Because of this, his on-base percentage should not suffer due to the expected struggles in average.

As mentioned, the addition of a veteran is likely; however, the White Sox are better off to give Flowers a six-week audition heading into 2012. Because of the position scarcity and the likelihood for playing time, he could be a nice addition for AL-Only owners down the stretch. On top of the solid OBP, his right-handed power is likely to play up in U.S. Cellular Field, a ballpark that favors right-handed power hitters. Depending on how he handles his latest tour of major-league duty, Flowers could be a catching sleeper for next season as well.

In mixed-leagues, Flowers is an option, but more so in deeper 14-plus team formats. In shallower leagues, Chris Ianetta may be a more attractive option. Ianetta in many ways is a mirror image of Flowers. Both right-handers post above-average walk rates, solid power, and a hole in the bat in terms to contact. The one thing that puts Ianetta ahead is he has produced at the major-league level. Although he is hitting just .237 this season, his OBP is a robust .382 – fueled by an 18% walk rate. He has also popped 12 home runs in 90 games. Ianetta is available in more than half of standard leagues, so if you’re looking to fill Pierzynski’s void or looking to upgrade, check for Ianetta.

For more catcher options, check out Bloomberg Sports.com

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