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Know Your Orioles 40-man: Mark Kolozsvary

The Orioles pounced on a pair of Reds catchers who hit the waiver wire last week.

St. Louis Cardinals v Cincinnati Reds
Recent Orioles waiver claim Mark Kolozsvary hit a home run once. This is it.
Photo by Lauren Bacho/Getty Images

Since the start of 2022, Camden Chat has written an article about each player on the Orioles 40-man roster, with updates as new ones arrive.

How he arrived: Waiver claim from Cincinnati Reds, 10/14/22

Who left: Beau Sulser designated for assignment, 10/14/22. Sulser was claimed by the Pirates, from whom the O’s had claimed Sulser in May.

Can there be such a thing as too many catchers? The Orioles are exploring the question right now, having claimed two different catchers off of waivers from the Reds last Friday to give them a total of six on their 40-man roster. The Reds were shedding catchers as if they were radioactive; they waived four guys at the same time. We looked at the older and more experienced of the two who have found their way to the Orioles, Aramis Garcia, yesterday. Now it’s Mark Kolozsvary’s turn.

Why the Orioles have spent the month of October accumulating catchers is probably answered by looking at the performance of all 2022 O’s catchers not named Adley Rutschman. Robinson Chirinos and Anthony Bemboom combined to bat .166/.251/.271 for the season.

Even grading on a curve for backup catchers, it’s pretty bad. Not that Bemboom’s part of that performance has kept the Orioles from retaining him for 2023, as he was added back onto the 40-man after the season to prevent him from becoming a minor league free agent.

Kolozsvary (COLES-very) made his MLB debut this season at 26. He turned 27 last month. The Reds only had him up long enough to play in ten games — six starts — over two stints, one at the beginning of the season and one in the middle. Even more than a lot of players of this ilk, that’s a small sample size. In 21 plate appearances, he batted .200/.238/.450.

Minor league numbers across five seasons since he was drafted in the seventh round in the 2017 draft tell a bit more, with a combined .215/.326/.343 on the way up through the Reds system. That’s a guy who consistently doesn’t hit much but does have a decent walk rate. He also demonstrates power that’s neither exciting nor microscopic. His Triple-A numbers are the worst of the lot, though, with just a .594 OPS in 61 games across two seasons there.

There was enough potential in there for Kolozsvary to at least merit a mention in this year’s FanGraphs Reds prospects list, even with his being on the old end to still call him a prospect. Kolozsvary checked in at #39:

Kolozsvary is a fine third catcher to have on your 40-man, though. He is short (listed at 5’8”), but quite physical and twitchy, showing good lateral agility on defense. Because he’s naturally so low to the ground, it’s easy for him to frame low strikes, which he doesn’t have to reach below his knees to receive. His size helps him be quick out of his crouch, though his raw arm strength is about average.

As a general rule, even in a deep farm system there’s probably not much worth getting excited about once you get into the 30s of a prospect ranking. Sometimes something interesting happens: The Orioles #34 prospect heading into this season was a little known, little bit old for a prospect reliever named Félix Bautista. Things came together for him.

The total package for Kolozsvary, wrote FG’s Eric Longenhagen, is “enough for him to have a long career shuttling back and forth between Triple-A and the big leagues as needed.” That’s not a profile that’s going to sell any 2023 tickets, but even the cynics with the tired jokes about every minor roster move should recognize it’s worth having “a fine third catcher to have on your 40-man.” Not that the 2022 Orioles had or seemed to need one.

Whether the Orioles have even “third catcher who’s in the minors” in mind as a role for Kolozsvary is an open question. It won’t be a surprise if he’s back on waivers before the calendar turns to 2023. The Orioles have to add Rule 5 draft-eligible players to the 40-man roster next month. Louis Head and Beau Sulser, who were designated for assignment as the O’s claimed Garcia and Kolozsvary, seemed like two obvious candidates to be removed. The two former Reds catchers also seem like obvious choices if there will be substantial roster trimming.

The Orioles were a combined 33-45 in games started by Chirinos and Bemboom this season. Those guys aren’t the only reason why. Their presence often coincided with other backups who hit poorer being in the lineup. The team was not as good in April and May when that was the O’s catching duo. Still, they need guys who are better so they can win more of the “day game after a night game” kind of games.

The best way to do that is to sift through a bunch and see who you think is the best choice. Kolozsvary is part of that group until the Orioles decide he’s not.

Still to come: That’s all, for now