Tribe prospect Wolters' catching craft evolving
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Indians prospect Tony Wolters took a couple of days to think things over after the organization suggested last spring that he might benefit from transitioning to catcher. The former infielder decided to trade in his glove for a mitt and embraced the challenge.
Cleveland's task now is to make sure Wolters does not push himself too hard.
"He's a very energetic guy," said Indians first-base coach Sandy Alomar Jr., who instructs the team's catchers. "He's still learning a lot about the craft, but he's doing pretty good. He's just a little anxious to learn really fast. He has to take it a step at a time. He wants to learn the craft right away, but you have to be a little careful with how much you can throw at him."
Told of Alomar's evaluation, Wolters smiled.
"Sandy's brought that to my attention," Wolters said. "I'm trying to figure all that out. I've always been the one where I want to learn something and I want to learn it right then. I'm trying to stick with the process and figure that out on that end. Sandy's always there. I always see him, his eyes on me."
The 21-year-old was presented with the idea of converting at the end of last Spring Training, during which Indians manager Terry Francona expressed to the team's front office that he felt the infielder could cut it as a catcher. It had been brought up internally in the past, but finally gained steam to the point of suggesting it to Wolters.
"It was a surprise," said Wolters, who discussed it with his family and agent before giving Cleveland an answer. "I'm so glad I did it. [Francona] saw that in me and we talked. I told him, 'I trust you. Let's do this and I'm going to put my whole heart into it.' It's working out."
Wolters, who bounced between second base and shortstop while posting a .724 OPS at the plate for Class A Advanced Carolina in 2012, caught 58 games for Carolina in '13. He appeared in 80 games overall, posting a .277/.369/.353 slash line with 16 extra-base hits, 33 RBIs and 41 walks. Defensively, he threw out 28 percent of would-be basestealers in his first campaign behind the plate.
Wolters said he is trying to do everything he can to take advantage of his first invitation to big league camp.
"I'm just trying to be the biggest sponge ever. I'm just trying to take a bath with it," Wolters said. "I'm figuring it out slowly. I can't hurry up the process, but I'm going to try. I just want this to go smoothly and I'm having a lot of fun doing it. I'm enjoying myself."