The catcher has the toughest job in baseball. They are the field generals, the guys who can see the entire play develop in front of them. A sturdy catcher can carry a team to a championship. He has to be strong-willed, physically strong, and mentally prepared for every situation. Catchers are leaders and counted on to handle all types of pitchers. Without them, a team cannot win.
Here's a look at Long Island's top 25 catchers for 2013 after surveying area scouts, high school and college coaches.
25. STEVE CONNELLY, Island Trees, Sr.: One of the key hitters in a talented Bulldogs lineup. He hit .335 with 20 RBIs.
24. NICK GARLAND, Massapequa, Jr.: According to former major leaguer Frank Catalanotto, this is a catcher with one of the best swings on Long Island. He has quick hands, a good level path to the ball and really gets a lot of torque out of his lower half. Catching-wise, he is quick behind the plate with excellent receiving skills.
23. TIM GORTON, Smithtown Christian, Jr.: Two-time All-League batted over .400 and lead League VIII with 32 RBIs.
22. KEN JOHNTRY, Longwood, Jr.: He has excellent blocking and receiving skills. He's also a solid hitter who can drive the ball the other way.
21. NICK DUARTE, Port Washington, Sr.: The 6-2, 200-pound catcher hit .314 with 14 RBIs with a .455 OBP for the Vikings. He is committed to Siena.
20. TYLER THEISS, Deer Park, Jr.: He batted .375 with 16 doubles and 18 RBIs for the Falcons. He is a highly regarded prospect with excellent defensive skills.
19. MITCH CALANDRA, Floral Park, Soph.: Two-year starter who threw out 17 base stealers as a freshman. He hit .333 with three home runs and continues to impress.
18. RYAN DILLON, Patchogue-Medford, Sr.: He continues to improve each year. He has a very strong arm. He is committed to Molloy.
17. CHRIS TRACZ, Plainview JFK, Jr.: Batted .353 and threw out 75 percent of base stealers. All-Conference player, highly recruited by D-I schools.
16. BILLY MCLEAN, Wheatley, Jr.: He was All-Nassau and batted .510 with 22 RBIs and four home runs. He's an excellent prospect who can play any position well.
15. LUKE LEONARDI, Sachem North, Sr.: The All-League selection hit .345 with five doubles. His strength is behind the plate as a receiver.
14. ROB KOLLMER, MacArthur, Sr.: He is very athletic and a varsity starter since his sophomore year. He's a contact hitter and uses all fields. He is committed to Hofstra.
13. ROB VANI, Chaminade, Sr.: The Flyers' cleanup hitter is 6-2, 180 pounds and one of the most underrated players on the Island. He has excellent power to all fields, and is a very tough out.
12. AUSTIN ADAMO, Hauppauge, Sr.: He can swing it and is a solid backstop with a strong arm. This is his year to shine. He is committed to Flagler College.
11. VITO FRISCIA, Valley Stream Central, Sr.: He moved behind the dish and is touted as a candidate to win the Diamond Award, given to Nassau's top player. He batted .360.
10. BILLY REIDEL, Glenn, Sr.: Two-time All-League, three-year varsity starter. At 6-3, 210 pounds, he's an imposing batter and a definite on-field leader. He is committed to Oneonta.
9. ROB FIATO, Huntington, Sr.: He batted .410 last season with 17 RBIs and is one of the clutch hitters for the Blue Devils. He is committed to NYIT.
8. RILEY SHEA, Comsewogue, Sr.: A 6-1, 185-pounder with all the tools. He has become a better receiver with a strong arm. He is committed to Rhode Island.
7. NICK OSBURN, East Islip, Sr.: All-Suffolk selection who hit .405 with 22 RBIs. He comes back from a football injury and is the key player for the Redmen to return to the Class AA title game.
6. BRIAN LAU, Oceanside, Sr.: He is an outstanding defensive player, very hard to run on. He batted .270 with two home runs and 16 RBIs.
5. KYLE FAGAN, Wantagh, Sr.: He has a sub-2.0 pop time and is a complete shutdown defensive catcher. He hit .425 for the Warriors. He is committed to LIU Post.
4. NICK FANNERON, Massapequa, Sr.: The All-Nassau selection hits with power to all fields and is a Diamond Award candidate. He has improved defensively. He is committed to Northeastern.
3. MARK DONADIO, Mt. Sinai, Sr.: Line drive gap-to-gap hitter who is very athletic and can play multiple positions. He is committed to Fordham.
2. CHRIS GAFFNEY, St. John the Baptist, Sr.: His return from a broken hand will have an immediate impact on the Cougars' title hopes. Gaffney is a super defensive catcher who was second in the CHSAA in RBIs as a sophomore. He is highly regarded as the best hitting catcher in the region. He is committed to UNC-Wilmington.
1. CHRIS RUSSO, Floyd, Sr.: He has a 1.87 pop time. He is widely considered the best defensive catching prospect in the region. He hit .362 last season and has a rifle for an arm. He is committed to Iona.