When looking at a ball game, sometimes it can be misleading who is actually in charge of the game on the field. Most would assume it would be the pitcher on the mound, completely looking passed who’s actually calling the shots, crouched behind home with a whole diamond set in his sights. The catcher.
I had the chance to talk with the Indians number 21 prospect, Logan Ice, about his first full season in the minors, what he thinks about being drafted so high, and his injury from the first half (that doesn’t seem to have slowed him down one bit), among a few other things.
Ice was drafted from Oregon State University, in the second compensatory round (lottery B), 72nd overall in the 2016 MLB amateur draft.
I asked him about being drafted and what his first thought was after hearing his name come up that he got picked. “I was just relieved to have gotten picked! The day was so long and I was pretty anxious.” He went on to tell me how exciting he was for him and his family and also how his parents have been his biggest influence regarding the game.
It’s not always common for a catcher to go so high in the draft, and because of this he knows quite well that being drafted so early implied the parent team truly values his potential. “I feel like they took me as high as they did for a reason. I don’t think they would do that if they [saw] me as just a minor league player.”
The switch hitter started his career with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, the short season single-A affiliate for the Indians. His first game the Scrappers faced the Auburn Doubledays, and Ice came out swinging (1 for 2 with 2 RBI, and a HBP), but cooled off quickly at the plate for the remainder of the season.
In his second season, he was promoted to the Lake County Captains out of spring training. Ice showed an instant improvement at the plate, with more consistency and better contact. Though he battled with a nagging pain in his throwing wrist throughout the first half of the season, that eventually got him placed on the 7-day (actually, for 11 days) DL in late May into mid-June.
As a whole since returning June 12th, it looks as if something has clicked for the catcher in the way an epiphany hits you in the middle of the night. His average hasn’t moved much, sitting around the lower .200’s, but the contact has gotten better on both sides of the plate, showing most in his last seven games, hitting a .304 with 10 RBI on seven hits, four of which were home runs.
Two of those home runs came in back-to-back at bats during the Captains’ 15-6 win on Sunday over the Dayton Dragons. In the fifth inning Ice launched a 3-run shot to left-center, and an inning later in the sixth, sent a career first grand slam over the centerfield wall.
Defensively, Ice is calling the shots behind the plate, and like many young catchers, has some work to do between pitch framing and picking off runners from stealing. In college, he was known more for his defensive abilities over his bat, throwing out 44% of potential base stealers in his junior year. As it stands right now, he’s thrown out 32% of potential base stealers, picking off 19 out of 59 attempts.
With the logjam in front of him (among other positions in the system), Ice is well aware that there is the potential for a slower progression up the levels for a while. However, he has the mindset and the drive that you’d want to see in a young prospect, which isn’t something that can be taught. He goes on the field in every game with the belief that he should “have fun, the day you aren’t having fun, you don’t play,” while keeping his top priority set on how to contribute towards a win.
It’s a catcher’s job to lay low and keep an eye on things while staying on pace with his pitchers through nine innings. Ice has shown that he has a firm grip on what his main job is for his team, while balancing the need to become better through each game. Being that he’s only at single-A, Ice has a ways to go yet even before he will reach his full potential in the minors, giving him a solid buffer to mature around, and with certain guys ahead of him, there should be no rush on his progress.