Back in the Swing of Things: Catcher

Grayson Greiner's sweet,left-handed swing will earn him significant playing time in 2012 as a true freshman. (Photo via thebigspur.smugmug.com)

What do you like more: hitting or defense? That's pretty much what it comes down to in the battle between freshman Grayson Greiner and junior Dante Rosenberg.

Rosenberg's reputation is as a defense-first catcher. Though his bat is coming along, he still figures to be a bottom-of-the-order hitter on the days that he cracks the lineup. Dante missed most of 2011 with a leg injury and ended up redshirting. The junior has advanced receiving and blocking skills, and his couple years of extra experience give him something of an inside track on the starting catching job in an infield that will take post-high school game experience just about anywhere it can find it. (Rosenberg spent two years at a junior college before transferring to South Carolina.)

With Grayson Greiner, the Landon Powell comps you hear buzzing about have nothing do with his body (aside from them both being tall for catchers) and everything to do with the fact that he can he hit just about anything thrown across the plate. The 6'4", 210-pound Greiner can really rake and gets extra points for having alliterative name but will likely grow out of the catcher position if he hasn't already. As Darryl Slater points out, only four MLB players taller than 6'3" have caught 1,000 innings. And there's a reason for that being the case. Catching is an arduous position to play and is a burden not born easily by men with frames as large as Greiner's. Still, he's skilled enough with the bat that he has even the conservative Ray Tanner talking about Freshman All-America possibilities. And Greiner possesses the kind of arm that has some scouts wondering if he isn't better suited for right field. But that appears to be more of a long-term consideration as Tanner seems pretty set, for now, on a two-man rotation of Greiner and Rosenberg.

With Greiner's receiving skills needing work, I expect this platoon to lean toward Rosenberg's favor early on, with Tanner maybe finding extra plate appearances for Greiner at DH or somewhere else. Greiner's bat is ready now, but his ability to manage a game behind the dish at an SEC level may not be there until midseason. If the latter comes along, he could claim a greater percentage of the playing time as the year wears on.

Click here to browse previous entries in the Back in the Swing of Things series.

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