ARLINGTON, Texas — For most Texas Rangers fans, when they think about the catcher position throughout the history of the franchise, the name of Ivan Rodriguez comes up often as the gold standard. A member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, Rodriguez has his own statue outside of Globe Life Field honoring his 13 years behind the plate with the Rangers.
However, while Rodriguez may lead the franchise's all-time list at the position, he is liking what is seeing from current Rangers catcher Jonah Heim.
Texas Rangers: What Ivan Rodriguez said about Jonah Heim's skills as a catcher
Before Friday's Game 1extra-inning victory by the Rangers, Rodriguez was asked about the 28-year-old Heim and what he has seen from him and his development in his three seasons with Texas.
"For me, I know that he's a great hitter, both sides of the plate," Rodriguez said. "But the game that I love him the most is behind the plate. The way he's calling games. The way he's blocking balls. The way he's throwing balls. The way that he anticipates the game.
"They don't teach that. That comes natural. He has that. He knows situations. He knows when the situation is coming. He's ready for it as a catcher, and he's doing an excellent job.
"And I'm going to be very honest with you, you know, sometimes the position of catching is the most underdog in the game of baseball. And I think that's the most important one. And he's doing a great job because one of the reasons that I think the Rangers are where we are is because of the job that he's doing behind the plate."
Rodriguez went on to call Heim "the MVP" of the team, saying his defensive contributions are often overlooked. As a Gold Glove finalist, what Heim beings to the Rangers defensively is quickly becoming a not so well-kept secret.
"For me, the MVP is Jonah. You know, him, right? Because if he doesn't do that, Garcia wasn't able to hit the home run," Rodriguez said. "So those are the little things in baseball that a lot of people don't see, especially in the defensive part of the game. And he does that very well."
Heim certainly provided some pop at the plate for the Rangers as well this season, slashing .258/.317/.438 with 18 home runs and 95 RBI in 501 plate appearances.
Texas certainly seems to have landed its next franchise catcher, and the man on top of the franchise pedestal at the position thinks the Rangers have found a very good one.