Angel Salome: Not a catcher; not getting any taller

Brewers catching prospect Angel Salome is apparently “no longer comfortable” behind the plate. That’s bad news for any young backstop, but it’s particularly bad for Salome.

Granted, there have been question marks about Salome’s receiving skills from day one. The last two years, he has failed to throw out more than a quarter of would-be basestealers, and his footwork around the plate hasn’t exactly drawn raves. But the bat is good—his minor league career slugging percentage is near .500—and he’s toolsy enough that there’s always hope he’ll put things together.

But unless something changes, he’s no longer a catcher. The main reason that’s bad: He’s all of 5’7″ tall.

There’s may be no absolute minimum height at any position, but at most positions, taller is better. Salome will never be a first baseman; 5’7″ and 200 pounds sounds like an infielder’s nightmare. His bulk will prevent him from transitioning anywhere else in the infield. So that leaves the outfield.

Check out the list of the most productive players since 1980 who are 5’9″ or shorter, and you don’t see a lot of natural comps for Salome. It appears that, if you’re short, you need to be really speedy, a good defensive catcher, or a freakish outlier.

Salome ain’t speedy, so that leaves “freakish outlier,” a category you never want a top prospect to be in. (Unless he’s freakishly good.) If you take out the speedsters, infielders, and catchers from that list, you’re left with … Matt Stairs. (He’s listed at 5’9″, so even that might be a stretch.)

There you go, Brewers fans: Angel Salome’s ceiling (ha! get it?) is now Matt Stairs. But hey, if George Kottaras keeps slugging .444 and and walking 20 percent of the time, maybe Salome-as-catcher didn’t have a future in the organization anyway.

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