The new Chooch? Meet the prospect 'every Phillies fan should know about'

March 14th, 2024

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Eduardo Tait knows if you are a catcher from Panama and you play for the Phillies that you will be asked about the most famous and beloved catcher from Panama who also played for the Phillies.

You will be asked about Carlos Ruiz.

“I met him when I was little,” Tait said last week through an interpreter. “I was maybe 10 at the time. I was playing on a team in Panama, and we won a tournament there. Four of the players got to fly to New York and we met him at Yankee Stadium. It was great. It was an unforgettable experience. Now that I’m in pro baseball, whenever I go back to Panama, a lot of people have been comparing me to Chooch.”

Tait is the Phillies’ No. 9 prospect per MLB Pipeline. He doesn’t turn 18 until Aug. 27, but he impressed so much last summer in the Dominican Summer League that teams inquired about him in trades. He is so highly regarded by the Phillies that, according to the team, he could be their first 17-year-old to play regularly at full-season Single-A or higher since outfielder Carlos Tocci played with Single-A Lakewood in 2013.

Tait could start for the Phillies in Saturday’s Spring Breakout exhibition against the Tigers' top prospects in Lakeland, Fla.

“He’s somebody I think every Phillies fan should know about,” Phillies assistant general manager of player development Preston Mattingly said. “Just start with his work ethic. He’s an extremely intelligent kid. I’m calling him a kid because he still is. He has a chance to have a hit-power combo. And obviously the catching position is a very difficult place to find offense. So a guy like that who works very hard, who’s very smart and who has a chance to hit and hit for power is why we like him so much.”

Tait started to play baseball at four years old. His aunt introduced him to the game because her son played baseball.

“Hey, Eduardo, come with us,” Tait’s aunt told him.

Tait started to catch because he was one of the bigger kids his age. He said he didn’t like it at first.

“I didn’t like blocking the ball, and I didn’t really like all the conditioning that I needed to do to be in the best shape possible to be a catcher,” Tait said. “But I’ve learned to love it. I take a lot of pride in throwing to the bases, and I take a lot of pride in being a good blocker.”

Tait is 6-foot, 215 lbs. He hits left-handed. He is strong. He hits the ball hard, so the Phillies think he will hit for power. He has a good arm, too, but he has plenty to learn as a catcher. He’s young, so he has time. Ruiz initially signed as a second baseman, so he learned to play the position over the years. By the time Chooch became the Phillies’ everyday catcher, every pitcher on the staff loved throwing to him.

“It’s definitely an honor to be mentioned with him,” Tait said. “I like it. He played for the Phillies. He’s a Phillies legend. I remember he told me, don’t stop grinding, just keep doing what I’m doing. He said, ‘I can’t wait to see you play in the big leagues.’”