Highly-touted prospect Wolters transitioning to catcher

Highly-touted prospect Wolters transitioning to catcher

CLEVELAND -- Tony Wolters might have a locker inside the Indians' clubhouse in the future. On Saturday morning, the highly-touted prospect was only visiting.

Wolters, who is making the transition to catching this season after spending his career as a middle infielder, was in Cleveland for a one-day catching clinic. The 20-year-old prospect worked with bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr. and bullpen coach Kevin Cash -- both former catchers -- during his day with the Tribe.

"It's going really well," Wolters said. "I'm learning something new every day. It's fun. I like it a lot. You're looking at things from a different perspective, from a different standpoint on the field. I feel like it's making my overall game better."

Wolters opened this season with Class A Advanced Carolina, which is managed by former catcher Dave Wallace. The young player followed his initial stint in Class A with nearly two weeks in extended spring camp, where he caught for the first time in games. Wolters will rejoin Carolina on Sunday to continue his development behind the plate.

During Spring Training, Indians manager Terry Francona mentioned to Cash that Wolters -- a semi-regular fill-in during the late innings of Cactus League games -- reminded him of Tigers catcher Alex Avila in terms of his body type, hands and demeanor. Francona waited before bringing it up in a meeting that included general manager Chris Antonetti and vice president of player development Ross Atkins.

"I didn't really want to say anything to anybody," Francona said, "because he's one of the high-profile players in our system. About a week later, we were sitting in the conference room one day and I just brought it up. ... All of a sudden, Ross was like, 'Why would we wait, if this kid is up for it?' And when we talked to him about it, we kind of said, 'Hey, this is what we potentially see, but you have to be all in for this.'"

Wolters took the night to think it over.

"It took me a while to make the decision," Wolters said. "They put it in my hands, and I told them I'd do it, whatever makes it faster to what my end goal is. I was just glad that Terry saw that in me. We'll see how it goes, but I'm excited."

Wolters, a third-round pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, hit .260 with eight home runs, 30 doubles, eight triples, 58 RBIs, 66 runs and 126 hits in 125 games with Class A Carolina last season. The left-handed hitter bounced between second base and shortstop along the way.

"It's actually really exciting," Francona said. "He absolutely loves [catching], and he can always play the middle infield. And he will still do that. You have a left-handed-hitting guy that can potentially catch and play the infield. That's a rare commodity."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.