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A Stephen Vogt Report

In case you missed the news yesterday, the A’s continued their flurry of minor leagues moves by claiming Vogt from the Tampa Bay Rays


Here is the transaction:

Goodbye, Dan Otero; we hardly knew ye. He's had a rough go of it lately: pitching for the Giants last year and getting released on March 26th, and claimed by the Yankees. The day after, he was claimed by the A's, and today he's out of an MLB job again. Eeesh.

Hello, Stephen Vogt. No, not this guy (we hope), but this guy:



The first thought about him is that the A's do need some catching depth, and gave up pretty much nothing in order to do so. In the past calendar year, here are the names of the AAA/MLB catchers who are no longer in the organization:

Kurt Suzuki
George Kottaras
Anthony Recker
Landon Powell
Stephen Hill (retired)

And here are the catchers who the A's have acquired, one way or another at the AAA/MLB level

John Jaso
Luke Montz
David Fretias

So, there was a need for catching. Indeed, it's the like the A's are playing musical catchers, too. But, based on what I've read, Vogt may be an A's style undervalued commodity.

First, he has an excellent minor-league batting record. In almost a full-year of AAA PAs, Vogt compiled a 116 wRC+ in 2012 for the Durham Bulls, the Rays AAA affiliate and the same wRC+ in 2011. After a kind of abysmal K/BB ratio as a hitter of 22.1%/3.1% in those 31 games in 2011 after making the jump from AA, he rebounded with a much better year plate-discipline wise in 2012: 15.4%/10.6%.

In addition, this wasn't one of those BABIP-aided seasons you find in the PCL. After a near-outlier of .340 in 2011, he had a much more reliable .306 in 2012 at AAA. He's hit well at pretty much every level he's been at, never posting lower than a 116 wRC+ during a full season.

He's also got the Grant Green quality about him, for better or for worse, of being able to play multiple positions, plus catcher. He's a natural catcher, but can also play LF, RF, 1B, and 3B. If only Grant Green could catch, too, perhaps he'd be in the major leagues by now.

As others have noted, Vogt is also old for his level. He's 28 now, and this is probably around his prime time as a hitter. Indeed, no one has ever said he can't hit, and it's not really clear that he can't catch, either, having been able to throw out 30% or so of baserunners in 2011. So, what gives? Well, he did have a torn rotator cuff in 2009, the only season in which he did not play a full set of games, but he has rebounded well since then.

DRaysBay has summed him up nicely, twice:

Early 2012 Spring Training:

EVERYONE I have talked to about Stephen Vogt - players, coaches, broadcasters - simply loves the guy.

I love him too. I can't for the life of me figure out why more analysts don't talk about him and the role he could play for the Rays in the very near future. He has hit at every level he has been at and although he isn't going to win any Gold Glove awards, has the positional flexibility that the Rays place a premium on.

In a later 2012 spring training piece:

The fact the organization has played him at catcher, left field, first base, and even right field a handful of times speaks to the point that they must like the bat and are trying to find the best use of it. The best use of it just may be as a reserve catcher that can fill in at other positions in a pinch if needed. He has thrown out 31 percent of the runners that tried to steal bases against him the last two seasons as well.

I'm really intrigued by this pickup for the A's, but even more intrigued why the Rays, a smart organization to be sure, would dump someone like him at his offensive prime. Sometimes, teams just don't have enough spots for all the players they would like to keep, and I'm thinking that might be it. Perhaps the A's saw that, and thought they had to jump on it, even if it meant DFAing Otero. In either case, I hope he at least gets a cup of coffee with the A's in September.

You can follow him on Twitter at @SVogt1229.