The position of back-up catcher for any team is not the most glorious spot on any roster. The same can be said for the position on teh Baltimore Orioles, but it is also one position that seems to be up for grabs in 2011. In the spring of 2010 C Craig Tatum managed to outplay veteran Chad Moeller, and somewhat surprisingly won a roster spot with the Orioles. Tatum showed similar offensive skills as Moeller, but his defensive ability behind the plate won him the job. While Tatum did well as a receiver in 2010, his bat may have slightly outshown his ability to control opposing running games. Tatum finished 2010 with a .281 batting average, not a world beater with the bat by any means, but he only threw out 7% of opposing base stealers.
|162 Game Avg.||162||477||427||33||101||12||0||2||35||2||0||45||73||.236||.312||.280||.592||61|
|CIN (1 yr)||26||77||68||3||11||1||0||1||6||0||0||7||10||.162||.250||.221||.471||26|
|BAL (1 yr)||43||126||114||11||32||4||0||0||9||1||0||12||21||.281||.349||.316||.665||83|
The 27 year old Tatum was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2004 draft by the Cincinnatti Reds and debuted in the big leagues in 2009. Tatum played in 26 games for the Reds in ’09. He did not show much with the bat but threw out 36% of base stealers in limited duty. Tatum was claimed off of waivers by the Orioles in November of 2009.
Tatum’s main competition for the back-up cather role comes from Jake Fox. While Tatum did well to hit .281 last year, he only slugged .316 and drove in just 9 runs in 114 at bats. Tatum has more experience as strictly a catcher, but Fox can play more positions defensively and has more power in his bat. The desicion may come down to whether Buck Showalter considers Fox’s bat and versatility more valuable than Tatum’s ability behind the plate. It seems unlikely that the Orioles will keep both players to start the season. Tatum will have to show tha the is more capable of throwing out runners than last year this spring and also prove that his ability with the young Orioles pitchers is too valuable for him to be left off the opening day roster.