Yep, that's Salty as an Atlanta Brave in 2006, when he was regarded as one of the premier prospects in baseball. He was ranked 18th on Baseball America's top 100 prospects list, ranked right between No. 17 Conor Jackson and No. 19 Andy LaRoche. He was the first catcher on the list, 14 spots ahead of the Mariners' Jeff Clement, and his promise was acknowledged with this comment by an anonymous scout: "He's got a chance to be Jason Varitek to me. The size, the strength, the power are all there."
The card is from the season before he'd make his major league debut, a season and a half before he'd be dealt to the Rangers (along with Elvis Andrus, Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison, and Beau Jones) in the Mark Teixeira deal, four seasons before he became Varitek's teammate and understudy ... and six seasons before his true big-league breakout, if you believe that's what we're witnessing right now.
Saltalamacchia has been outstanding this season, especially in May, with 9 home runs overall (second on the team only to David Ortiz) and an .883 OPS. In early April, some among us were wondering when he'd lose his job to Ryan Lavarnway. Now, he's looking like a reasonable candidate for a contract extension.
Saltalamacchia's emergence is one of the topics I touched on with Michael Vega and host and producer Daigo Fujiwara in this week's Red Sox podcast. Give it a listen here.iTunes. Find its archive here.
About Touching All The Bases
Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.