Doug Kroll is an editor for CSTV.com, focusing on baseball. E-mail here!
For the past couple of seasons, the catching position has been dominated by the likes of Georgia Tech's Matt Wieters and OregonState's Mitch Canham.
But 2008 will bring some light on others, now that Wieters, Canham and MississippiState's Ed Easley have moved on out of the college game.
While some names will sound familiar, others will emerge as the next great catcher. Who knows, we may even see the next catcher/closer combination like Wieters was for the Yellow Jackets. Well, on second thought, maybe not.
Here are the Top 5 catchers in 2008:
1. Buster Posey, Florida State- Even with Wieters in the ACC last season, Buster Posey emerged as not only the conference's best catcher and perhaps the best in the nation. After making the move from shortstop (where he was a freshman All-American in 2006), Posey earned All-American honors as a catcher in 2007. The junior ended up with a .382 average (fifth in the ACC), 94 hits and 65 RBI (both third in the league). Throw in the fact that Posey threw out 40 percent of base stealers, and only 44 runners even attempted steals, and Posey has become one of the most intimidating backstops in the nation. Posey committed only three errors in 2007, and considering it was his first season behind the plate in a college uniform, it's a scary thought the numbers he may put up in 2008, both at the plate and behind it.
2. Petey Paramore, Arizona State - With all the big sticks in the Arizona State lineup, some said that Petey Paramore went under the radar a bit in 2007. The junior still put up monster numbers at the plate, finishing with a .379 average, six homers and 52 RBI to earn All-Pac-10 honors for the second consecutive year. Already a 22nd round draft pick out of high school by the New York Mets, Paramore will look to have his third straight solid season for what should be the top team in the country when 2008 begins. The Allen, Texas native only committed two errors in the Sun Devils' run to Omaha, and an also impressive one passed ball. Expect Paramore right back in the middle of Pat Murphy's lineup in 2008.
3. Tim Federowicz, North Carolina - All Tim Federowicz has done since arriving in Chapel Hill two years ago is lead North Carolina to back-to-back appearances in the CWS Finals. The only problem is, OregonState has knocked them off both times to win the national title. Federowicz returns for his junior season as one of the best in the nation, after hitting .333 and being one of three UNC players to start all 73 games. Despite 10 passed balls, North Carolina's catcher committed one error and threw out nearly 25 percent of attempted base stealers. If Mike Fox's team is going to make it three straight trips to the CWS Finals, then it'll be up to Federowicz to provide some more impressive play behind the plate.
4. Phil Disher, South Carolina - On a team that led the nation in homeruns, Phil Disher was right in the middle of it all in 2007 for the Gamecocks. Disher wasn't a full-time catcher last season with Trent Kline around, but Ray Tanner is glad to have Disher back for his senior season after being drafted in the 45th round last spring by the San Francisco Giants. He finished fourth on the team with 15 homeruns and hit for a .328 average. Disher didn't commit an error or a passed ball in 69 chances, but runners were a perfect 8-for-8 against him.
5. Doug Hogan, Clemson- With so many faces gone from Jack Leggett's 2007 Clemson Tigers, Doug Hogan is one of the biggest guys left. Hogan enters his senior season after a breakout year for the Tigers in '07. The Columbia, S.C. native finished second on the team with a .350 average to go along with 13 homeruns. Hogan can improve defensively, finishing with five errors and 10 passed balls a year ago, plus runners attempted 74 steals against him while throwing them out at a 22 percent clip. One plus on the defensive side is his handling of the pitching staff, which threw to the tune of a 3.73 ERA in 2007. With a couple of the top guys gone in that department, having a senior catcher is something that may go a long way for the Tigers in 2008.
On the radar: Preston Clark, Texas; Luis Flores, Oklahoma State; Ryan Babineau, UCLA.