>The Mets currently have five catchers on their forty man roster – Rod Barajas, Henry Blanco, Omir Santos, Chris Coste, and Omir Santos. Yeah, that’s one-eighth of their roster space. But notice that the sixth catcher in camp, Shawn Riggans, is not in the group, because Riggans was a minor league signing. He’s got no guarantees, and he’s probably not going to make the team, barring injuries to four of the other five receivers. He has about the same chance of making the Mets as you or I do. You will probably never see Shawn Riggans play as a New York Met in Citi Field.
But baseball is a game full of opportunities and second chances. So who knows. Riggans is a Met for now, and I’m pulling for him this spring training. He’s likely going to disappear into the obscurity of age-30-and-over minor leaguers before too long, and one day no one will ever think of Shawn Riggans again. But not yet.
So before that happens, let’s think about him for a minute. He’s got a good story. Here are ten things you didn’t know about Shawn Riggans. Well, maybe you already knew some of them. Here are 10 things you may not have already known about Shawn Riggans:
1. Shawn Riggans graduated St. Thomas Aquinas high school in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, having never started a game. Riggans claims in various reports that he weighed between 130-150 pounds and was five feet, five-to-seven inches tall when he graduated high school. He is listed at 6’2″, 200 lbs today. So I guess he was a late bloomer.
2. He walked onto Florida International University’s baseball team, initially as a bullpen catcher, but then made the real team as a red-shirted freshman. FIU has also produced Mike Lowell, former who-the-heck-is-that-Met Willie Collazo, and Ryan Mollica, the Mets’ 47th round pick in the 2009 draft.
3. Shawn Riggans sat on the bench at FIU – you know, because he was a walk-on red-shirt freshman. So he transfered to Indian River Community College, also in Florida, where he blossomed. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays drafted him in the 20th round of the 2000 draft.
4. Riggan’s mother passed away March 5, 2001. He has her date of death tattooed on his shoulder, and says a prayer to her during the National Anthem of every game.
5. Riggans made his professional debut later in 2001, batting .345 with 8 home runs in 15 games for the Devil Rays’ rookie ball affiliate, the Princeton Devil Rays. That’s Princeton, West Virginia, by the way, not New Jersey.
6. Riggans was named the Rays’ minor league defensive catcher of the year four times, spending six seasons in their system before finally reaching the majors.
7. Since 2005, which is as far back as Minor League Splits dot com data goes, Riggans has posted up a minor league OPS of .948 against left-handed pitching. The major-league equivalent of that OPS is .806. In case you were wondering, Chris Coste has a career .821 OPS against left-handed pitching, but outside of him, no other Met catcher has an OPS against lefties higher than .765.
8. Riggans made his major league debut September 5, 2006, pinch hitting in the ninth inning of a blow out against Minnesota. Shawn singled to center in his first major league at-bat. The Devil Rays lost 8-0 to the Twins and one Johan Santana, who pitched 8 shutout innings and struck out 12.
9. Riggans has only 464 professional plate appearances – that’s majors and minors combined – since 2006, due to various knee, shoulder, and elbow injuries. For every Omir Santos, there are probably ninety-nine Shawn Riggans working just as hard, waiting just as patiently, who never gets the break. It happens.
10. Riggans did not play in the 2008 playoffs, but was on the roster for the Rays’ entire run. Dioner Navarro caught every inning for Tampa Bay. Riggans did, however, break down the Rays entire team with Yahoo Sports, including which ones play shuffle board. Really. If you’re sick of hearing Jeff Francoeur quoted in every Mets article, you want Riggans on the team. He seems just as accessible to reporters (read: doesn’t stop talking), and even appears willing to reveal which ones are XBOX live dorks. David Wright, I’m looking at you.
So there you go. That’s Shawn Riggans in ten bullet points. For more, this is a good, but old, article.