By Ben Fischer
University of Maryland
June 24, 2018
COTUIT – Through 12 full games, the Cotuit Kettleers had only used two starting catchers. But Tuesday against the Harwich Mariners, a new masked face was behind the plate as Thomas Dillard (Ole Miss) started at catcher in Cotuit’s 10-3 loss.
Dillard, listed on the Kettleers’ roster as a catcher and an outfielder, has started all 13 games for Cotuit after starting all 65 games for the Rebels this spring. However, Dillard did not start any of those games at catcher. He appeared behind the plate last summer in Cotuit, but has yet to make a collegiate start as a catcher in two years at Ole Miss.
Coach Mike Roberts said he chose Tuesday as Dillard’s day to catch because starting pitcher Seth Shuman (Georgia Southern) throws strikes consistently and would be easier to handle for Dillard. Despite showing faith by playing him as the backstop, Roberts said Dillard is by no means a finished defensive product.
“Thomas wants to catch,” Roberts said, “but Thomas knows he’s got a tremendous amount of work to do to be a prospect as a catcher, which I think he needs to be.”
Dillard called his return to behind the plate “hard but fun.” Dillard said that being behind the plate and calling the game was more involved than playing the outfield. He added that he feels he has better at-bats when he is catching because he is “more locked in” to the game.
While playing in the Cape League in general, and at catcher specifically, may have professional implications for Dillard, he is not feeling any added pressure behind the plate.
“I just go out there and have fun,” Dillard said. “Catching is definitely fun, it’s the position I grew up playing so being back there is always fun.”