Rob Brantly may not be a household name, but then again, neither is anyone in the Miami Marlins lineup these days, so he should fit right in.
Brantly was acquired by the Marlins at last season’s trade deadline from the Detroit Tigers in the deal that sent Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez to the eventual American League champions. Despite having still been in the minors with the Tigers, he joined the Marlins major league squad and shared playing time with John Buck for the remainder of the season, hitting .290/.372/.460 along the way.
John Buck has been shipped off to Toronto (and subsequently off to the Mets) this off-season, opening the door for Brantly to get the full slate of starter’s at-bats behind the plate in Miami this season, with light-hitting Jeff Mathis serving as his backup.
Mathis could steal some at-bats from the right-handed Brantly against lefty pitching, but catchers typically play only 120-130 games per season, so Brantly was going to have his days off anyway. Additionally, Mathis is a terrible hitter and Brantly profiles to be an above-average one compared to major league catchers.
Brantly’s line in 2012 was representative of his minor league career, albeit with slightly more power. Brantly hit three home runs in 31 games, which would put him on pace to hit around 12 if he played 120 games next season. The San Diego native hit double-digit home runs in just one of his three minor league seasons.
While Brantly lacks in home runs, he makes up for by being an overall, sound hitter. A career .280 minor league hitter, Brantly displayed a better eye in the majors than he had in the minors, but has always been a strong contact hitter. He won’t score a ton of runs, but he should get around the bases better than most catchers simply due to his young legs and the fact that he should be on base frequently. He may not be a big RBI man, but hitting in the 6-8 spots in the Marlins lineup, he should bat behind two of the Marlins better on-base guys in Giancarlo Stanton and Logan Morrison.
Brantly isn’t going to carry your team, but if you miss the impact power-hitting catchers, he should be a better alternative than the Kurt Suzukis and Welington Castillos of the baseball world and certainly has more potential. And as a left-handed hitting catcher on a bad team, he should get plenty of opportunities.