Splitting time with another catcher is not always a recipe for success, especially on the offensive end, but Beloit Snappers catcher Collin Theroux is making it work and has put together a respectable first half of the season.
The Oakland A’s 32nd-round selection in last June’s draft out of Oklahoma State, Theroux has used his maturity and experience playing at the highest level of college baseball to hold his own with Beloit.
“The biggest thing is just trying to find consistency, whether it’s in your daily routines or physical work that you’re doing before games,” said Theroux, who struggled throughout a seven-game cameo last season in Beloit when he went 0-for-21 and struck out 15 times. “Just trying to find what works and experimenting with that. I’ve had some highs and lows, but need to be more consistent.”
In a time share with fellow 2016 college draftee Jason Goldstein, Theroux has made an impact with his bat just as much as he has behind the plate.
The 6’2” backstop is currently second on the Snappers with nine homers, which has contributed to his 819 OPS (which also rates second). Although his batting average currently sits at just .217, Theroux has managed an on-base percentage of .323. He’s done all of this despite having played in just 37 of the Snappers’ 58 games.
Playing time, especially on the road, has been difficult to find in steady doses, but Theroux has enjoyed the long home-stands.
“Success comes with more at-bats and seeing more pitches,” he said. “We’re lucky at home; Goldy and I will get to DH at home because we have the benefit of a bullpen catcher. On the road, we won’t get to DH a lot and will switch off. It’s nice at home to play three or four days in a row and get those consistent at-bats and feel more comfortable in the box.”
A slow start to his first full professional season somewhat bogged down Theroux’s offensive output. He went hitless in his first eight at-bats (across four games), before a 3-for-3 outing against Peoria got him going in the right direction. Still, he slumped to a slash line of .189/.318/.486 in the month of April.
His batting average got a slight bump in the month of May, when he improved to .227 while playing in 20 games and getting 67 at-bats.
“I had a good spring training and felt really good early on in the season, but just kind of lost it,” Theroux said. “It goes back to getting into my routine that was working. I was swinging and missing a lot, chasing a little bit. Just trying to slow things down, be a little bit more patient and wait for my pitch. That’s paying off for me of late.”
With more time in the batter’s box has come more awareness of how opposing teams are trying to attack him.
“Each organization has a way of pitching,” Theroux said. “I know Peoria preaches the fastball and you know to be ready for that. Other organizations, you’ve got to be more ready to see more off-speed in hitters counts and be ready to take advantage of that, even though you’re probably looking for a fastball.
“My biggest thing is swinging at my pitches, whether I get a hit or not. That’s my go-to on if I had a good at-bat, rather than being result-based and worrying about hits or batting average.”
Theroux came to the A’s with a reputation as an above-average defensive catcher, and he has lived up those expectations. His arm strength, in particular, is impressive. Theroux threw out 50% of would-be base-stealers last season and he is throwing out runners at a 45% clip this year. Theroux says he hasn’t had to spend too much time worrying about his defense this season. Having the benefit of a pitching staff chalk full of former college hurlers has also enabled Theroux to focus more on the hitting aspect.
“We’ve been lucky to have a really good staff and they’ve got a good idea of what they’re doing out there,” he said. “The adjustments are easy and they’re easy to talk to. They make our job pretty easy. Other than game-planning, not much goes into worrying about that defensive side. That makes the offense something we can focus on a little more.”
Theroux hopes to carry over his increased offensive production into the second half of the season, and put himself on the right course to advancing up a level in the A’s organization.
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