Baseball Outlook: Catchers
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  01/15/2004
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Jan. 15, 2004

Each week before the start of the baseball season, GoLobos.com will provide an in-depth look at the different aspects of this year's team, including pitching, catching, infield, outfield, schedule and overall outlook. This week, the Lobo catchers are previewed. The Lobos begin practice Saturday, Jan. 17 in preparation for their home opener at Isotopes Park Feb. 20.

LOBO CATCHERS The Lobos have the fortune of two solid defensive catchers who can also add a strong bat to the lineup. Junior co-captain Jeff Grady will be the primary starting catcher with sophomore A.J. Spitaleri also seeing some starts.

"We have two excellent catchers that can catch and throw very well," Alday said. "We're fortunate to have two good catchers because you can platoon them throughout the season, so you don't have to worry about them breaking down. They can block and call a good game. We tell them that we would rather have them be a good defensive catcher, and that whatever they do on offense is a plus."

Which shouldn't be a problem. Grady, one of the most powerful hitters on the team, blasted nine homers and six doubles while driving in 39 runs and hitting .300 in just 120 at-bats in 2003. The co-captain committed just eight errors in 249 chances (.968 fielding pct.) and threw out 11 base stealers.

Spitaleri made good use of his time at the plate, batting .339 with two homers and 20 RBI in only 115 at-bats, including six doubles and 20 runs. He was just as effective behind the plate, delivering a .984 fielding percentage and throwing out 11 runners.

"Jeff has great power at the plate, while A.J. makes good contact and hits the ball the other way really well," said Alday. "We really need them to do the little things this year, like sacrificing and moving the runners over, in order for us to be successful offensively."