The Beavers are losing one of the best parts of their batting lineup to the NCAA transfer portal, with catcher Troy Claunch announcing his decision to transfer yesterday. Claunch will be playing for Texas A&M next season, taking advantage of the new NCAA transfer rules to be eligible to play right away.
Claunch has been with the Beavers since 2018, but really came into his own in the abbreviated 2020 season when he took over as the team’s starting catcher. Claunch has been one of the team’s most consistent hitters since then, with a .778 OPS. Claunch has been excellent defensively, with a 1.000 fielding percentage and 488 put outs in 2021.
It will be tough for the Beavers to replace his production, but they’ve got a few players in the wings. Cole Hamilton would probably be the favorite for the starting job, but he just signed a free agent deal with the Washington Nationals.
That leaves two catchers on the Beavers roster. Gavin Logan transferred from Linn Benton Community College before last season, and saw time in 10 games. Freshman Daniel Pruitt didn’t see any time on the field in 2021, but was a first team all state (Oregon) as a high schooler. Incoming freshman Tanner Smith also performed well in high school, though its been some time since he was able to play due to the pandemic, and Mitch Canham might not want to drop him into the fire right away.
However this shakes out, I will miss being able to write the word “claunched” in baseball recaps. Good luck in College Station, Troy.