For about a week, the TinCaps had been operating with only one real catcher on the roster: Brandon Valenzuela. With Adam Kerner on the shelf with a shoulder injury and Jonny Homza able to bat but also dealing with a fatigued shoulder that largely kept him from playing behind the plate, the TinCaps had to turn to emergency catcher Zack Mathis a few times in order to give Valenzuela a rest. Mathis had caught some in spring training but had never caught in an official pro game (or in college) until late August.
That problem was solved tonight when the Padres sent catcher Victor Duarte from the Arizona Complex League to Fort Wayne to serve as Valenzuela's backup. Duarte, 20, has not hit much as a pro yet, batting .176 with a .263 OBP and .265 slugging percentage in the ACL after posting similar stats in the Dominican Summer League in 2019. But he is a good defender, having thrown out four of the 14 would-be base-stealers he has faced this season without a passed ball. He had only two passed balls and threw out 28.8% of the runners he faced in 22 games in 2019.
Duarte was not in the lineup for either of Fort Wayne's games tonight against Lansing, but after Valenzuela played all 14 innings behind the plate, it's likely he gets a night off Thursday, which would put Duarte in the lineup. Valenzuela is getting on base at a nearly .500 clip since being promoted from Low-A Lake Elsinore to the TinCaps in late August, so Fort Wayne would likely be giving up some run-scoring ability in its lineup in that scenario.