Before the start of spring training, the backup catcher position for the Los Angeles Angels was up for grabs between Hank Conger and John Hester.
With Conger's impressive form at the plate, however, that debate has all but been settled.
The 25-year-old right-hander is batting .412 with a team-best 10 RBI through eight games. He has an on-base percentage of .444 and a slugging percentage of .824.
Throughout the remainder of spring training, the Angels and their coaching staff will look for Conger to improve on the defensive side of the ball. In 48 starts in the 2011 regular season, Conger managed to throw out only 16 percent of base stealers. His fielding percentage behind the plate was .979, a number considerably lower than starting catcher Chris Iannetta's career mark of .995.
With four throwing errors in only 30 innings played this spring, Conger's inconsistency on the defensive side of the ball has somewhat dampened an otherwise flawless preseason campaign.
Per MLB.com, Angels Manager Mike Scioscia talked about the team's desire to see Conger's arm catch up to his bat:
A catcher has to be able to deter a running game, there's no doubt. But that doesn't mean you're throwing rockets right on the corner of the bag every time. There's a level that you need where teams have to either work for their stolen bases or they know the timing's against them ... I think Hank has that ability to get to that level. There's no doubt he has the arm strength to control the running game to the extent we would need him. It's really going to be a function of that consistency.