Baseball Preview: Catchers

  • By DJ Jamiel
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  • February 11, 2014 03:32 PM
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Ray Guerrini will challenge for a starting role behind the plate.
All-Pro Photography/Dale Sparks photo
The catcher position this season for the Mountaineers will be a change from 2013 with the graduation of Alan Filauro last season. Filauro, who caught more than half of the team’s games last season, could be replaced by a trio of talented backstops that include Cameron O’Brien, Ray Guerrini and Max Nogay.
O’Brien is one of the new faces to join the Mountaineers roster in 2014. A junior transfer from Northeast Texas Community College, his 2013 season consisted of 42 starts, where he was ranked second for the Eagles in home runs (3) and third in doubles (8). His father, Charlie, played 15 seasons as a catcher in Major League Baseball.
“He has a great baseball mind because of his background and his father being a big leaguer,” coach Randy Mazey says. “He understands the game, he understands pitching and he’s a switch hitter that can give you a look from either side. He’s a good all-around player.”
Another backstop vying for the starting role is redshirt freshman Ray Guerrini. His 2013 season was spent as the team’s bullpen catcher, but serves as a wealth of potential. His most sought after attribute is not what he does at the plate, but what he does with his arm.
“Ray can really catch and throw with a tremendous arm,” Mazey explained. “There will be a lot of days where he is our catcher and can single-handedly shut down the running game. We have some good options and depending on who we face, we can match up different guys.”
The only possible candidate for the position with starting experience as a Mountaineer is Nogay. The junior from Weirton, W.Va. appeared in 20 games last season for West Virginia, eight of those coming in the form of starts.
Nogay was one of the top hitters during fall practice while also showing the ability to play third base if needed. During summer ball with the New Bedford Bay Sox, Nogay batted .288 with eight doubles, three home runs and 20 RBIs to rank as one of the team’s top producers.
“Max had a great fall and showed the ability to give us some offense,” Mazey articulated. “He has always been a good catcher and if we get in a situation where we have to move some guys around, Max can always go back there and catch.”
The position will come down to who finds their stride at the right time during the season.
“Cam O’Brien had a good fall, Ray Guerrini can really throw back there and Max Nogay has been in the program for four years now as a catcher,” says Mazey. “The hottest guy is going to play the most.”
The Mountaineers have three highly skilled candidates ready to fill the signal caller position in 2014.