The Dodgers in December signed catcher Tomás Telis to a minor league contract, which gives us a chance to take stock of what the Dodgers have in terms of catching depth in the minors.
Unlike some other minor league additions over the last month — pitchers Carson Fulmer and Jon Duplantier in the Rule 5 Draft, and infielder/Olympian Eddy Alvarez — Telis did not play in the majors in 2021, but he does have 122 games of major league experience, last coming with the Marlins in 2018. Telis turns 31 in June.
Telis is currently with Caribes de Anzoategui in the Venezuelan Winter League, hitting .343/.415/.506 in 43 games. Last year with the Twins, Telis got a major league call-up in April for two days as a COVID-19 replacement. He was active for one game but did not play.
Telis, a switch-hitter, hit .296/.340/.418 with 12 home runs for Triple-A St. Paul in 2021, and has played 542 games in Triple-A in his career. It’s reasonable to assume he’ll see a good amount of time at Triple-A Oklahoma City in 2022, considering the last time Telis played in Double-A was 2014.
Keibert Ruiz made the most starts (43) behind the plate last year for Oklahoma City, but the Dodgers scrambled to fill those innings after he was traded to Washington on July 30. With Tim Federowicz (16 starts) in Tokyo playing with Alvarez for USA Baseball, the Dodgers turned to some outside help at catcher in Triple-A. Chad Wallach (one start) and Anthony Bemboom (20 starts) were claimed off waivers, and each lasted a few days on the 40-man roster. Down the stretch, Bemboom split time with Tony Wolters (20 starts), who signed a minor league deal in August.
Wallach was traded shortly after he arrived. Bemboom and Wolters are both minor league free agents, and Federowicz retired to manage Triple-A Tacoma in the Mariners system. Hamlet Marte, a 27-year-old who started 26 games at catcher for Oklahoma City and hit .189/.250/.333, is also a free agent.
The Dodgers have only had to cover 22 innings behind the plate outside of Will Smith and Austin Barnes in the majors since the start of the 2020 season, but expecting that to continue seems risky. It wouldn’t be surprising if they bring in even more catching depth, perhaps in the form of a non-roster invitee or two. Someone who, like Telis, they’d be comfortable with using in the majors but not necessarily needing to carry on the 40-man roster until absolutely needed.
Hunter Feduccia might conceivably play himself into that role. The Dodgers’ 12th-round pick out of LSU in 2018 hit .254/.343/.398 with 10 home runs in 86 games for Double-A Tulsa in 2021, and figures to see time in Oklahoma City this year. He turns 25 in June.
Moving Feduccia to Triple-A makes room for other prospects to rise a level. Carson Taylor hit .278/.371/.433 with nine home runs and 16 doubles in 79 games for High-A Great Lakes. The fourth-rounder from 2020 turns 23 in June, and figures ticketed for Double-A.
That would open up High-A for Diego Cartaya, at least eventually. The 20-year-old mashed in Low-A — .298/.409/.614 with 10 home runs in 31 games — but also missed the last 11 weeks while injured.
The minor league assignments will sort themselves out soon enough. But in terms of major-league-ready catching depth, the cupboard needed some restocking. Telis helps in that regard, and the Dodgers should probably find one or two others to join him.