Pictured: Kevan Smith
The Rays have always had trouble finding a franchise catcher that can hit and play defense consistently. The closest they have come to an all-around catcher is Wilson Ramos who was a member of the Rays in 2017 and 2018. Ramos hit .297 with 14 HRs in 78 games in 2018. This year, Tampa Bay has 5 catcher options on their 60-man player pool.
The most likely starting catcher on Opening Day is Mike Zunino because of his stellar defense. Zunino struggled at the plate last season, however, as he hit .165 with only 44 hits in 90 games. His defense and familiarity with the pitching staff is what keeps him in the starting 9.
If Zunino happens to get injured or continues to struggle with the bat this season, the Rays have young talent and veteran options behind him. Michael Perez is the backup catcher at the moment. He hasn’t logged much Major League time, but he slashed .284 in 74 ABs for the Rays in 2018. The native Puerto Rican is only 27 years old, but he has a ton of potential and a sweet swing.
The 3rd and 4th catchers on the depth chart are veterans that I’m sure Kevin Cash is thrilled to have as possible replacements if necessary. Kevan Smith is one of those guys as the Rays acquired him from the Angels this past offseason. The 32-year old hit a respectable .251 in 67 contests with LAA last season.
Chris Herrmann is the other veteran catcher on the Rays 60-man roster. Herrmann has been a part of 8 MLB seasons, but he’s only surpassed 100 games once in his career. He’s a defense-first catcher as he’s carried above a .990 fielding percentage in 4 different seasons.
The 5th catcher on the Rays 60-man roster is Ronaldo Hernandez. The 22-year old prospect had a solid year for the Charlotte Stone Crabs in 2019 as he hit .265 and homered 9 times. The Rays really like his defensive abilities as he threw out 24 runners and had a .990 fielding percentage last season. He’s currently a member of the Rays “taxi squad”, so there’s a good chance he won’t put on a Rays uniform this season.