Graterol paid his dues in 11 years in Minors

Angels catcher grateful for opportunity with third team

Graterol paid his dues in 11 years in Minors

ANAHEIM -- Not much has even been expected of Angels catcher Juan Graterol -- he's never cracked the club's top 30 prospects on MLBPipeline.com -- but yet as he prepared to lace up his cleats Wednesday, he found himself in the Major Leagues.

Graterol's journey to this point has been long -- 11 years and three organizations, to be exact. So, it was understandable as 27-year-old walked around the clubhouse with a giant grin on his face when he first arrived in the Majors on Monday.

"It's exciting," Graterol said. "I feel blessed, and this is unbelievable. Everyone hopes for that -- every player -- when you sign and when you're a little kid. Your goal is to play in the big leagues."

Graterol came up as a source of need as starting catcher Geovany Soto went on the 15-day disabled list with left knee inflammation. Carlos Perez, who was sent down when Soto was activated from his first DL stint on July 9, still needs time to work on getting consistent at-bats, manager Mike Scioscia said. Perez is hitting .364 with four extra-base hits in 22 at-bats at Triple-A, but needs to continue to do so before he can find his way up to the Majors.

Graterol, who hit .292/.331/.357 with a homer and 19 RBIs in 46 Triple-A games this season, isn't expected to play a major role in the bigs. Scioscia, however, thinks he has value.

"Juan is a really good receiver with soft hands," Scioscia said. "He blocks well, does all the things behind the plate that you want to see. At the plate, he's improved as a hitter and offensive player from what he's done throughout his career. He earned his way up the depth chart."

In all likelihood, Graterol simply will serve as a backup to Jett Bandy and be there for an emergency situation. He was not in the lineup for the third straight game Wednesday, but Graterol is used to waiting. He signed with the Royals as a 16-year-old, then passed through the Yankees as he toiled for 11 years in the Minors before finding himself in Anaheim. 

"When you're playing well, you're always ready for that call for the opportunity," Graterol said. "The opportunity came here with the Angels, and I'm just ready to come up here and do my thing."

For now, he's just glad to call himself a big league ballplayer.

"I even surprised myself," Graterol said. "I really made it. Wow. This is unbelievable."

Fabian Ardaya is a reporter for MLB.com based in Anaheim. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.