GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The White Sox catcher of the future draws a great deal of attention in the present.But with Zack Collins, the team's top pick in the 2016 Draft, still a year or two away from being behind the plate for Chicago, the team seems satisfied with the current
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The White Sox catcher of the future draws a great deal of attention in the present.
But with Zack Collins, the team's top pick in the 2016 Draft, still a year or two away from being behind the plate for Chicago, the team seems satisfied with the current catching combination in place at this point for '17.
"We have a good young group willing to work," said Geovany Soto, a non-roster invitee who figures to split time with Omar Narvaez at catcher. "We are working really hard with the pitching, and our job is to make sure that we get the most out of the pitchers that we can."
"Part of this whole process was looking for long-term solutions and guys that are going to fit on a championship club going forward," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. "Part of that process is giving some young guys the opportunity to show what they can do and see if they can work their way into that mix. It potentially could happen at catcher."
Alfredo Gonzalez, Kevan Smith and Roberto Pena are also part of the camp's catching picture, but Narvaez and Soto have the edge. Soto, a 34-year-old veteran, caught with the White Sox in '15, while Narvaez, 25, made his presence felt via a 34-game stint with the White Sox last season.
Narvaez hit .267 in 117 plate appearances, without much power, but with a .350 on-base percentage. Hahn pointed out that pitchers liked throwing to Narvaez, an idea reinforced by Carlos Rodon's 3.45 ERA in 12 starts with Narvaez behind the plate.
"I think we are on the same page when it comes to the way he calls a game," Rodon said of Narvaez. "Just the way we kind of set up hitters. We always have the same idea. Real good communication, I would say. I like the way he sits back there. Sometimes the way the catcher sits back there kind of appeals to certain pitchers."
"Our biggest key was we speak a lot during practice," Narvaez said. "We've got pretty good communication every single day. He's got really nice confidence. I tried to understand what he wanted to do, and he understands what I came for. We make a really good match."
Collins, 22, was selected with the 10th overall pick in last year's Draft. Nick Hostetler, the White Sox director of amateur scouting, said at SoxFest that if the team had owned the No. 1 pick overall, it still would have targeted Collins.
There's little doubt Collins can hit at the big league level, and the organization has little doubt its No. 6 prospect, per MLBPipeline.com, can remain at catcher. For now, he's learning through his first big league camp.
"My opinion is it's a little bit less work than college because we only had two catchers in college and we still had about 20 pitchers, and it was a lot of bullpens we had to catch," Collins said. "I'm not trying to annoy [the other catchers] with questions. But I definitely [have] been watching what they do, and kind of learning things and seeing how they work with the guys."
Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.