Chris has a younger brother, Matt, who followed him to the University of North Carolina out of high school in Rhode Island.
Iannetta was a huge Ken Griffey Jr. fan. He liked Sr., too.
Iannetta was not brought up to be loud or assertive. He attended St. Raphael Academy in Providence, R.I., and the University of North Carolina. Chris may not show a lot of emotions, but on the inside he burns to compete.
- Iannetta was a math major in college.
Chris's 2002 season with the Chatham A's of the Cape Cod League led to him being featured in the book "The Last Best League: One Summer, One Season, One Dream," by Jim Collins.
The University of North Carolina has produced big league catchers Dwight Lowry, Scott Bradley, B.J. Surhoff, Matt Merullo, and Jesse Levis in the last three decades. Now, you can add Iannetta to the list.
Iannetta has the talent and intangibles that make him a solid major league catcher. He soaks up instruction and works hard to improve in all areas of the game. His humility is impressive.
In 2006, Chris hit his first two big league homers off of Jonathan Sanchez and Michael Wuertz.
In 2005, Baseball America's Prospect Handbook ranked Iannetta as the 20th-best prospect in the Colorado farm system. In the spring of 2006, they thought more of Chris andrated him as 7th-best prospect in the Rockies' organization. And Baseball America had him at #8 in the spring of 2007.
- On July 28, 2010, Chris and his wife, Lisa, welcomed a baby girl into their family when Ashlyn Brooke Iannetta was born. It is their first child.
In March 2013, as Chris Iannetta prepared for his second season as the Angels' starting catcher, he exudes a confidence and comfort level buoyed by an organization that holds paramount the pitcher-catcher relationship.
Speaking of working with Mike Scioscia, the veteran of 15 big league seasons as a catcher said, "To have someone who played as long as he has and managed as long as he has with the wealth of knowledge that he has about the game of baseball and pitch-calling and handing a staff, and just being able to have a conversation and talk to him—some of the little caveats he pulls out in passing have been very helpful and beneficial."
The admiration is a two-way street, as Scioscia and his staff are counting on Iannetta's veteran leadership to help mold a pitching staff that has three new starters joining Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson in the rotation.
Iannetta's slow start in 2013 had him splitting time with improved young backstop Hank Conger. Fortunately for Iannetta, this isn't anything new. The catcher went through this while with the Rockies too, splitting time with Yorvit Torrealba.
"I know how to deal with it," Iannetta said. "Basically I do anything I can to help the team win when I'm in there. I come to the field expecting to win every day. If I'm in the lineup I try to contribute any way I can. If I'm not, then my job is to ready myself for the next time and pull for the guys as hard as I can." (7/12/13)
2013 improvements: In August, Iannetta came to the realization that he needed glasses and contacts. The returns were overwhelmingly positive—he batted .286 in September with four home runs while posting a .911 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging average). In spite of that one good month, Iannetta ended up batting just .225 despite logging a career-best 115 games.
“I was getting to the point where the ball was jumping on me when I was catching. I’m like, ‘This is weird.’ I’ve never had an issue like this before,” Iannetta said. “The first day I put the contacts in, I was ‘Oh my God.’ My eyes relaxed and then the rest of my body relaxed. I felt I could react again and be athletic as opposed to being tense and straining. It had a big impact.”
July 22, 2015: Iannetta along with hitting coach Dave Hansen, had a jam session with Mike McCready of Pearl Jam.
"It was crazy," said Iannetta, "I got out of my pitcher's meeting about 15 minutes before I was going out to stretch, and Hanny was jamming with Mike. I just sat down and asked him how to play a couple songs."
For Iannetta, making celebrated wine has become much more than a hobby, it’s become a passion. From the start of spring training in mid-February, through the dog days of summer, and into the cool nights of autumn, Chris blocks pitches in the dirt, winces as foul tips sting his fingertips, and works in a uniform soaked in sweat. But there is another man behind the mask. Iannetta is also a maker of fine wines.
The basement cellar of his home outside of his native Providence, R.I., is stocked with about 600 bottles; the wines of choice being well-aged and complex Cabernet Sauvignons. Within his collection are bottles from Jack Winery, his small, high-end label out of Napa, Calif. The wine has drawn rave reviews since production began in 2012. Robert Parker of Wine Advocate, writing about Jack’s 2013 vintage, gave the wine 94 points, saying: “I don’t know this producer, but certainly they have delivered a stunning bottle of Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. The color is a healthy dark ruby/purple, the wine is approachable now and should continue to drink well for at least a decade or more.”
“This is something that is growing into something special,” said Iannetta,. “Maybe this is something that I do after baseball, who knows? I love wine, I love the process, and I like the business aspect of it.”
Iannatta’s partner is former big-league outfielder Vernon Wells. In 2012, the two were teammates with the Angels, and both players were recovering from injuries. Iannetta had sustained a wrist injury that required surgery, and Wells underwent surgery for a broken thumb. While rehabbing together, the teammates talked about their affinity for Napa Valley wines. That shared interest grew into the wines that are now crafted near St. Helena, in the heart of California wine country. (Patrick Saunders - The Denver Post - Jan. 2018)
Chris is a cerebral catcher who brings loads of experience to help mold a young pitching staff long on potential but short on seasoning. "It's been different," ace Jon Gray said of his initial work with Iannetta in the spring of 2018. "But in a good way. When he speaks, it's very calm and clear, and he gets his message across. He's very good at calming you down. If you make a couple bad pitches, he'll calm you down and tell you he wants you to make one pitch. He takes it that easy.
"He brings in a different perspective. I keep my ears open around him. He's seen a lot of our division for a long time. So when he puts something down, you don't second guess it. You know it's a really good pitch and probably the right one."
Manager Bud Black described Iannetta as "a great example of a new voice" in the Rockies clubhouse. But he's not completely new. Iannetta was a fourth-round draft pick by the Rockies in 2004, and he made his Major League debut with Colorado two years later. He played six seasons with the Rockies before he was traded to the Angels for the now-departed Tyler Chatwood in 2011.
After four years in Anaheim and one each with the Mariners and D-backs, Iannetta and the Rockies were reunited this offseason, and Iannetta admits he is a different player than when he left. "One hundred percent," he said. "When you're a young kid, you know the principles, but when you've executed those things and you've seen what works over and over, you get better at doing those things and more efficient at it."
Black was manager of the Padres at the tail end of the previous decade, but he still notices a slightly different Iannetta. "He's just much more experienced and much wiser," Black said. "He's been through a couple different organizations with great pitching staffs, and he's been with a lot of great managers and pitching coaches. And from that, you gain experience.
"You hear a lot of different philosophies, a lot of different coaching techniques, and you get a lot of information. I'm sure he's processed that over the years, and he's bringing that to us. He is the player he is now because of where he's been." (Gabel - mlb.com - 3/22/18)
Iannetta is an old-school gamer.
He maintains a deadpan mentality, regardless of the situation.
June 2004: The Rockies chose Chris in the fourth round, out of the University of North Carolina. He signed for a bonus of $305,000 in July. Jay Matthews was the scout who signed him.
- December 10, 2009: Iannetta and the Rockies agreed to a three-year, $8.3 million contract, with a $5 million club option for his first year of free agency.
November 30, 2011: The Angels sent P Tyler Chatwood to the Angels, acquiring Iannetta.
October 5, 2012: The Angels and Iannetta agreed on a three-year, $15.5 million extension, which made Iannetta the Angels' starting catcher through 2015.
November 23, 2015: The Mariners signed free agent Iannetta to a one-year, $4.25 million contract plus another $1.75 million in performance bonuses and a 2017 club option for $4.25 million that could become guaranteed at $6 million.
"I think it is an opportunity to get back and in a situation to play and prove that this past year was just a down year," Iannetta said.
Nov 3, 2016: Chris chose free agency.
Jan 13, 2017: The D-Backs signed free agent Chris.
Nov 2, 2017: Chris chose free agency.
- Dec 8, 2017: The Rockies signed free agent Chris.
|DOB:||4/8/1983||Agent:||Lou Jon Nero, Octagon Sports|
|Birth City:||Providence, RI|
|Draft:||Rockies #4 - 2004 - Out of Univ. of No. Carolina|
- Iannetta reminds some scouts of Joe Girardi. He has that short, compact stroke, consistently making hard contact with good bat speed.
- Chris is a righthanded hitter with power to the gaps and for a few home runs against a lefthanded pitcher. Now, when he gets a pitch he can drive, he nails it.
Iannetta has good knowledge of the strike zone and quality pitch recognition. He controls the strike zone, waiting out the pitcher until he gets something he can nail.
Chris has quality at-bat after quality at-bat. He works the count efficiently.
He needs to just let his natural ability play out and stay within himself and not try to do too much. In 2005, Rockies minor league manager Stu Cole told him he wasn't utilizing his large legs in his swing, but instead was getting up on his toes and having his arms get out in front of his body while swinging.
"With a wooden bat, you have to use your total body," Iannetta said, "and I'm still learning how to do that. I wasn't getting back enough. I wasn't using my lower half. I just wasn't using all the leverage that I could possibly put into the ball. "
In August 2009, Chris adopted a more upright stance and added a toe tap. First base coach Glenallen Hill suggested the change after hitting instructor Don Baylor signed off on the move.
In 2015, Chris batted only .188.
As of the start of the 2019 season, Iannetta had a career Major League batting average of .230 with 135 home runs and 481 RBI in 3,419 at-bats.
Chris is an above average defensive catcher. He blocks the plate well.
THROWING OUT BASE-STEALERS
Iannetta has a very quick, mechanically sound release that makes his average arm look much better than that.
In 2005, Chris threw out 32 percent of attempting base-stealers both in the California League and the Texas League.
In 2006, he threw out only 6 of 28 basestealers (21 percent) while with the Tulsa Drillers. But when was called up to Triple-A Colorado Springs, he threw out 31 percent of guys who tried to steal.
In 2007, Iannetta threw out potential base-stealers at a 19.5 percent clip.
In 2009, he nailed only 8 of 49 attempting basestealers, a poor 17 percent.
In 2011, Chris threw out a healthy 30 percent of would-be base-stealers (30 of 69). And he had a .998 fielding percentage in 104 games behind the plate.
In 2014, Iannetta nabbed 21 of 70 runners who tried to steal, 30%.
In 2015, he threw out 25% of runners trying to steal, 15 of 59 who tried.
In 2016, Chris gunned down 20 of 65, a fin 31% of any prospective base-thieves.
In 2017, Iannetta caught 8 of 33, or 24% who tried to go.
Iannetta is a leader, not only of his pitching staff, but also on the team itself. He helps pitchers work through tough situations with a cerebral, analytical approach.
- "Chris is the total package," Rockies roving catching coordinator Marv Foley said. "He's big and strong, hard as a rock. He's got above average arm strength and above-average accuracy. He can swing the bat, and he's very intelligent. This guy's thirsting for knowledge, and he applies it right away."
By no means is Iannetta a one-dimensional catcher. Rockies minor league manager Stu Cole notes Iannetta would constantly ask questions between innings if a certain pitch sequence failed to work, always with an eye toward correcting something he might have done wrong.
"He's a mathematics major, and he needs to have an answer," Rockies farm director Marc Gustafson said. "It's not anything in between. He wants to know." (Jack Etkin-Baseball America-7/27/06)
In 2006, Chris was called up to the Rockies for a brief Major League trial. Coach Jamie Quirk detected that Iannetta was leaning too far forward. That caused difficulty handling high pitches and affected his balance when he had to move his feet to block low pitches.
In 2007 spring training, Iannetta arrived with better balance.
Other than throwing out runners, which needs improving, Chris is an excellent catcher in all other areas. And he is a perfectionist who never stops working at improving.
Chris had been among the worst at turning balls into strikes based on adopted statistics that are gaining popularity throughout the game—and that has his attention in the spring of 2015.
"I'm really trying to work on it," Iannetta said. "Some of the numbers in 2014 were not where I wanted them to be, and that was surprising."
In 2014, Iannetta ranked 87th out of 105 Major League catchers in gaining additional strikes. That particular stat used Baseball Prospectus's "Regressed Probabilistic Model" of framing to calculate the combined probability that each pitch will be called a strike. The difference between those "projected strikes" and actual strikes was then used to determine where catchers ranked with regards to framing pitches.
Iannetta came in at minus 19.4 last year, which basically equates to 19 balls that should've been strikes. Buster Posey led the Majors at plus 179.6, which, in theory, means he gave the Giants 180 more strikes thanks to his pitch-framing ability.
"I get really good reviews from umpires in what I do and how I work, and I see some discrepancies," Iannetta said. "It's disappointing. So my goal is to get as good as I can. Be in the top 5, top 10, try to get better, see what the guys who do really well are doing mechanically."
Iannetta has asked umpires for advice throughout the 2015 spring and analyzed video of the catchers who do it well, but he still can't figure out why his numbers are so low.
"I definitely wasn't bringing the ball out of the zone," Iannetta said. "I was stopping it right where I caught it."
Baseball Prospectus also uses their model to assign run values based on this measure, saying Posey contributed 26.7 runs to the Giants, while Iannetta lost 2.9 runs for the Angels in 2014 based on pitch framing. Of course, there is some subjectivity in the numbers.
"They could be accurate, they could be inaccurate, you never really know," Iannetta said. "But it's something to strive for, something you want to be good at." (Gonzalez - mlb.com - 3/18/15)
- Like most catchers, Chris lacks speed.
2005: Ianetta tried to play with a broken left hand late in the season, but couldn't grip the bat properly and his offense suffered.
- November 2007: Chris had surgery to remove a bone spur from his right hand.
May 24-June 9, 2009: Iannetta was on the D.L. with a strained right hamstring. The injury took place while Chris was rounding third base on a Garrett Atkins single. Iannetta felt his hamstring tighten as he neared third base.
May 10-July 28, 2012: Iannetta was on the D.L. with a fractured right wrist, sustained on a hit by pitch the week before. He underwent wrist surgery May 11. Chris originally suffered the injury after getting drilled by a fastball from Twins righty Liam Hendriks on May 2, but he stayed in the game and finished catching Jered Weaver's no-hitter.
May 12, 2017: Iannetta had several stitches in his upper lip, plus a couple of fractured teeth and a broken nose after getting hit in the face by a fastball. "He's doing OK," manager Torey Lovullo said, "and I think we're all lucky and fortunate for that." Iannetta was struck by a 93 mph pitch from Pittsburgh reliever Johnny Barbato. (Bob Baum-AP)
- May 14-20, 2017: Chris was on the DL with a concussion.