While Jorge Alfaro is one of the main draws to a Frisco game right now, especially for the more prospect-oriented of Rangers fans, the RoughRiders' other catcher has quietly been impressing casual viewers and scouts alike across 2014.
Pat Cantwell, the Rangers' third-round pick in 2012, will never be known for his offensive prowess. Currently hitting .262/.345/.328 across 64 games, Cantwell has hit one homer in each of his three professional seasons, along with 36 total doubles. However, his current numbers are among his highest while in the Rangers organization, and he put up a .292/.385/.389 line in the month of July, something that appears to be continuing through the very beginning of August. Cantwell is best suited to hitting singles over the heads of infielders, punching some doubles down the line, and getting every inch he can on the basepaths. While he's not as fast as physical freak Alfaro, Cantwell isn't as slow as your typical catcher, either, turning in times from 4.35 to 4.45 on a regular basis down the first-base line.
Defensively, there aren't many minor league catchers more solid than Cantwell. Though he'll allow the occasional passed ball, Cantwell's athleticism and alertness allow him to do an excellent job blocking pitches, and he's currently throwing out 32 percent of attempted base thieves. One even gets the feeling that he would have a few more tallied, if not for some mistakes from the intended recipients of his throws. Cantwell also is known for calling a good game, taking what he sees in the bullpen warm-up session and working with the starter (and then relievers) to try to use their best pitches in varying situations.
Where Cantwell really stands out is the area commonly referred to as 'makeup.' An amusing anecdote from his ameteur days, as relayed by prospect writer @TepidP, is that ESPN had to possibly turn down the field mikes in the College World Series, because the Stony Brook backstop kept up a constant stream of encouragement and instruction from behind the plate to his fielders. While he's not quite that vocal in professional ball, Cantwell's interactions with the pitchers he catches are what one looks for in a major-league quality catcher: He knows who needs to hear what, and who needs to throw what, and when. As discussed with @TepidP in an article for LoneStarBall, Cantwell knows that he's probably not ever going to be the kind of catcher who regularly sends balls over fences, but his defense is what will make the difference.
Scouts say that Cantwell will definitely have some kind of big-league career, though there are split opinions on his duration. While he could be an up-and-down guy, it's agreed that his makeup is what will get him there, and one scout compared him to current Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, saying that he wouldn't be surprised if Cantwell had managing in his future as well. While the tools may not be as flashy as some of his Frisco teammates, Pat Cantwell's definitely worth watching.