Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Chance to Shine for Indians Kelly Shoppach

With struggling Indians catcher Victor Martinez having already missed time with a hamstring problem -- and now a sore elbow -- backup catcher Kelly Shoppach at last may be given a long-overdue chance to shine.

One of the best-kept secrets in the majors, Shoppach likely could start for a number of teams, but has been stranded behind Martinez.

Not only can Shoppack hit if given regular at-bats, he calls an intelligent game, is highly athletic behind the plate and has a canon for an arm. Shoppach is a far more effective all-around catcher than Martinez ever thought of being.

Now coming into his own at age 26, Shoppach was a standout prospect in the Red Sox system when acquired from Boston, having hit 49 homers at Triple A Pawtucket. He was much more than a throw-in in the Coco Crisp deal.

Shoppach won the Johnny Bench Award as the nation's top collegiate catcher when he batted .397 with 12 homers in 300 at-bats for the Baylor Bears in 2001.