We are down to nine days until pitchers and catchers report to St. Louis Cardinals’ Spring Training, and day two of my exploration.
In anticipation of the spring, I will look at one St. Louis Cardinal’s player per day with whom I am excited to see in Memphis this year. Today’s name is Mike Ohlman. It comes naturally after writing about an exciting pitcher yesterday to write about an exciting catcher today. From the start, we must admit that we fans of the St. Louis Cardinals are spoiled by the existence of Yadier Molina. Spoiled rotten to be exact. Spoiled rotten.
The past two seasons raised a great deal of ire in me with the existence of Tony Cruz as Yadi’s backup. I disliked Cruz with all of my might and especially hated the way he called a game behind the plate and the way he framed pitches. I am thrilled by Mo’s move to sign Tony Pena– no wait, that’s not right, Brayan Pena– as the new backup for Yadi.
I’d love to talk more about Pena here but we all know that he will start and stay with the big club. So who is left for Memphis? If our past shows us anything, we should learn that we need a catcher who can stay away from the juice (Cody Stanley had promise until the PED suspension and subsequent non-tender) and one that we can cultivate beyond the Yadi ceiling (see also Memphis’ loss of Ed Easley to the Pirates).
So who does this leave? Thankfully, GM John Mozeliak added a backup in February of 2015 by flipping cash for Orioles AA catcher, Mike Ohlman. Ohlman spent much of his 2015 with Springfield or injured. Yet through it all, in 366 at-bats, Ohlman posted a respectable .273 batting average with a .418 slugging percentage.
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With 2015 in the rear-view mirror, he is certainly geared to have a great season with Memphis. To add to his strength with the bat, this 2015 Texas-league Mid-season All-star posted a .986 fielding percentage in 97 games. Despite this decent percentage, it must be admitted that he posted only a 25% caught-stealing percentage (surrendering 59 stolen bases while catching 20 attempts).
So why get excited? In short, a season without injury is seemingly in the cards and should seemingly produce greater results. 2016 promises to be that season. If, in the injury-shortened season, Ohlman was able to post 17 doubles, 12 home runs, and 69 RBI (all in the aforementioned 366 at-bats), one can imagine what a healthy season might bring. At just 25 years old, Ohlman has much to prove this season.
Speaking of much to prove, should Ohlman be concerned with the Yadi ceiling? Should Redbird fans be concerned with something like this? My answer is simple: no. No, fans and Ohlman alike should desire an outstanding season to either break the ceiling or as value through trade.
With Yadier’s growing age, an outstanding catcher like Ohlman promises to be would be music to Cardinal ears. On the other hand, an outstanding season for Ohlman might have him traded to serve another team as their starting catcher and much in return for the Cardinals– again music to ears. In the meantime, let’s all enjoy this young catcher’s 2016 season!
Follow me on twitter and keep watching for a new article over these next nine days as I look at the players who excite me for the upcoming season!