The big names get all the attention this time of year, but front offices also are busy filling minor holes on their organization's depth chart, and it seems the Giants did so recently with the addition of a minor league catcher.
Tyler Heineman, a 28-year-old catcher, announced that he signed a deal with the club. Heineman has played eight professional seasons and had a five-game cup of coffee with the Miami Marlins last season.
Minor league additions in January generally don't move the needle much, but Heineman actually could be an interesting name to watch in spring training. The Giants expect top prospect Joey Bart to make his big league debut sometime this summer, but after Stephen Vogt signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks, team officials indicated that adding another veteran catcher was not a priority. Aramis Garcia is the incumbent and the favorite to back up Buster Posey, but Heineman brings an intriguing profile.
First and foremost, Heineman is the rare switch-hitting catcher, and he had more success from the left side last season, which could give him a leg up in the competition to replace Vogt, who also was a left-handed hitter. Heineman had a 1.061 OPS against right-handed pitchers in Triple-A last season.
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Heineman had a .990 OPS in Triple-A for the Diamondbacks and Marlins, with 13 homers and just 35 strikeouts in 273 plate appearances. The Giants have been looking for catching depth, not just behind Posey, but at the Triple-A level. The plan is to start Bart in Triple-A, and they need a more experienced catcher to pair with him.