The Chicago White Sox’s catching situation has been a bit unsettled this spring. Four different backstops, ranging from non-roster invitee Roberto Peña to non-roster invitee and 12-year major-league veteran Geovany Soto, have between 20 and 30 at-bats for the South Siders—and that’s not even counting top prospect Zack Collins. So far, the standout has been Kevan Smith, who’s hit for a robust .400/.438/.567 line. The man with the inside edge, though, is almost certainly Omar Narvaez.
The 25-year-old Narvaez, a career .277/.353/.336 hitter in the minors, asserted his claim to the job last year, when he hit .267/.350/.333 in 34 games in the majors, showing impressive plate discipline with 14 walks and 14 strikeouts in 117 at-bats. (He’s kept that up this spring, with three walks and three strikeouts.) Statistically, his work behind the plate wasn’t overwhelming—StatCorner rated his framing as worth -0.78 calls per game, 48th among the 70 catchers who caught at least 2,000 pitches—but pitchers enjoy working with him.
“I think we are on the same page when it comes to the way he calls a game,” pitcher Carlos Rodon told MLB.com’s Scott Merkin last month. “Just the way we kind of set up hitters. We always have the same idea. Real good communication, I would say. I like the way he sits back there. Sometimes the way the catcher sits back there kind of appeals to certain pitchers.”
In a rebuilding year and with the South Siders looking to develop talented young pitchers like Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito, the value of a catcher who sits well speaks for itself.