Tall order for Hawks catcher: Make it to the bigs at 6-5

Catcher Cael Brockmeyeris one of the tallest in professional baseball.

clangrill@idahostatesman.comJuly 6, 2013 

Cal State Bakersfield product Cael Brockmeyer, left, went 0-for-3 with one run scored Friday night as the Tri-City Dust Devils defeated the Hawks 9-3. Brockmeyer gave the Dust Devils a bit of a scare in the fourth inning with a drive to right field that was caught at the warning track.

KATHERINE JONES — kjones@idahostatesman.com

Tall catcher. Do those two words go together?

Turns out, not very often.

Louis Santop, a 6-foot-4 star in the Negro leagues, is the tallest catcher in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The tallest active catchers in the major leagues are Joe Mauer of the Twins and Matt Wieters of the Orioles. They are 6-5 and considered two of the tallest catchers in baseball history.

Well, meet Cael Brockmeyer, a catcher/first baseman for the Boise Hawks who's listed at 6-5.

But …

"I'm a little taller than that, but I just say 6-5," Brockmeyer said. "They don't want catchers that are too tall. So I just say I'm 6-5, but I'm closer to 6-6."

Brockmeyer said he's used to the looks when he tells people what position he plays.

"People always think I'm a pitcher," he said.

Hawks manager Gary Van Tol was no different.

"The first impression is, 'Is that a typo? Is he really a catcher?'" Van Tol said. "But then he puts on the gear and gets back there and you can tell he's very comfortable and he moves around very well for a big guy."

Brockmeyer, a high school graduate in Massachusetts who played at Cal State Bakersfield, is indeed at home behind home plate.

"I started playing catcher when I first started playing baseball," said Brockmeyer, who was the Chicago Cubs' 16th-round pick in the June draft. "There was all the gear and you were always involved in the game. I kind of liked it from the get-go. … I was always good at it, so I just stayed there."

Tim Cossins is the Cubs' minor league field coordinator. He was previously the Florida Marlins' minor league catching coordinator, and while he was in Boise last week he spent time working with the Hawks' catchers.

"I've watched Cael, and he sets up good, he receives good and he's able to do the things physically that you need to do behind the plate," Cossins said.

Cossins said he has worked with taller catchers before, and there can be some obstacles. Some say tall catchers are more susceptible to knee injuries. Others say height is a hindrance for throwing out runners.

"Being a big-bodied guy like that, you have a tendency to be hit by more foul balls," Cossins said. "And on the whole, those leverage points would hurt most people.

"It just depends on the athleticism of the guy."

Brockmeyer, who is hitting .200 through his first seven games in Boise, has heard all the reasons why he shouldn't pursue being a professional catcher. But he has one simple answer for the doubters: He enjoys catching.

"Right now, I'm just happy to have the opportunity to catch," he said. "I enjoy it, and it's fun being involved in every play. … Down the road, if they say that I have to switch to keep playing, then I would run with it."

For the time being, that's not the plan.

"We want to give him every opportunity to see if he can catch at this level and down the road," Van Tol said. "The thing about catching is it's hard to find. Any young players that ask me, I tell them to catch as long as they can because there's just not enough catching out there. So you do it until someone tells you differently."

And that's exactly what Brockmeyer intends to do.

"He definitely has enough athleticism to make it work," fellow Hawks catcher Lance Rymel said. "I haven't seen a catcher nearly as big as him, but he seems to make it work and he has all the tools to be able to stay behind there."

TRI-CITY TOPS BOISE

Boise starter Trey Lang was roughed up early as the Dust Devils defeated the Hawks 9-3 on Friday night at Memorial Stadium. Lang was tagged with seven earned runs, and Tri-City had an 8-3 lead after three innings.

Boise got all three of its runs in the third inning, which was highlighted by a two-run double by shortstop Carlos Penalver.

Boise (11-11) celebrated a six-game winning streak Tuesday, but has lost three straight games since, including two at home.

Wilfredo Rodriguez hit a three-run homer for Tri-City (8-14).

Chris Langrill: 377-6424

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