The Dodgers may be in need of a catcher after Austin Barnes left Sunday’s game with an injury. The good news is they have multiple players to chose from, including two top prospects. Who they call up likely depends on the severity of Barnes’ injury.
Dave Roberts isn’t certain about the severity of Austin Barnes’ left groin injury that forced him out of today’s game. #Dodgers
— David Vassegh (@THEREAL_DV) May 26, 2019
If Barnes is healthy enough to play on Monday, they probably won’t call anyone up, but if he does miss some time, here’s how they could fill the spot.
If Barnes’ injury is minor
If it’s determined that Barnes won’t be out for long, the Dodgers will likely call up Rocky Gale to back up Russell Martin until Barnes returns. The 31-year-old catcher has already been shuttled between the majors and triple-A multiple times. In 15 major league plate appearances this year, Gale is hitting .133/.133/.133 and doesn’t have the upside to do much better as he is a career .108/.108/.189 hitter in 37 plate appearances. If they just want a catcher to make one or two starts and fill a roster spot, Gale is their guy.
If Barnes Misses a Decent Amount of Time
If Barnes is out for a while, the Dodgers would probably call up Will Smith, one of their highly-regarded prospects. The 24-year-old Smith has the potential to run away with the starting job if he gets the chance. Currently, at triple-A, he is slashing .290/.404/.551 with 8 home runs in 166 plate appearances. He is also one of the best defensive catchers in the minor leagues with the athleticism and versatility to play multiple positions. He has had success at every level of the minor leagues so far and doesn’t have much left to prove at triple-A.
Smith would need to be added to the 40-man roster so they likely won’t call him up to play for a week. If he isn’t called up to replace Barnes, you should still expect to see him at some point this season.
The Unlikely but High-Upside Move
If the Dodgers want to be really fancy, they could call up top-prospect Keibert Ruiz. Ruiz, 20, is a switch-hitter and currently hitting .277/.348/.340 in 158 plate appearances for double-A Tulsa. Why he’s on this list is because he is the third-best catching prospect in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline, and he is already on the 40-man roster. The chances this move happens is incredibly minuscule, but crazier things have happened. If they did decide to call him up, it wouldn’t be as a backup so it would only be if Barnes misses a large amount of time.