Homza gives Tri-City the best of both worlds behind the plate
Some baseball teams are willing to give away a little offense to get a lot of defense at the catcher position, but the Tri-City Dust Devils are getting the best of both worlds with Jonny Homza of Anchorage.
The third-year backstop has made a terrific transition behind the plate and shown patience and polish at the dish in his first season at the Class-A level.
Homza, of South High fame, has reached base in 31 of 34 games to lead all catchers in the Northwest League with a .340 on-base percentage.
He is batting .238, which is 11 points higher than his career average coming into this season and two points higher than the team average.
When the San Diego Padres drafted Homza in the fifth round straight out of high school in 2017, common sense suggested he would struggle defensively being that he was so young and having to reinvent himself at a new position.
Who starts catching at the pro level?
“I had Jonny Homza in his first year catching in the Arizona League,” Tri-City manager Mike McCoy told madfriars.com. “I was the defensive coach there and as you can imagine, someone that has never caught before trying to catch who throw really hard is not the most natural thing in the world to do. It was a challenge, and he really struggled.
“Last year he was a lot better in his second year, and now you would think he has been catching his whole life. His transformation behind the plate is unbelievable to me; he is a tireless worker. He works harder than anyone in the room.
“He’s just a pro.”
Homza, 20, owns a career-high .996 fielding percentage with one error on 273 total chances in 24 games. He has thrown out 12-of-40 baserunners and allowed only one passed ball after allowing 25 passed balls in 39 games the previous two seasons in the Rookie League.
In addition, his range factor at catcher has nearly doubled since his first season. Range factor is determined by dividing putouts and assists by innings.
Homza has also played 10 games at third base, his more traditional position. He has bagged 18 assists and turned five double plays.
“If he put all of his time in at third base, he would be an elite defender there,” McCoy said. “His hands are that good. He has a good arm, so it’s a good position for him.”