The Red Sox drafted power-hitting high school catcher Jon Denney the third round, one pick ahead of the Kansas City Royals, who had already worked out a a deal with him. He was a surprise to have slipped so far. Denney did not impress in his pro debut, struggling at the plate with a .206 average, hitting just two doubles and no home runs before being shut down with shoulder fatigue.
Despite just a 26-game sample size, some Sox fans have expressed concern. However, there’s no need to panic yet.
While Denney is a very athletic catcher with a well above-average arm, he has plenty of work to do before he is considered a quality defensive catcher, and that was the focus of the coaching staff when he showed up in the Gulf Coast League. He projects to be a potential .300 hitter and could be a 30-plus home run, middle-of-the-order guy. He has the highest ceiling of any catcher in the Red Sox system, despite there being a catcher higher in this countdown.
Due to his excellent athleticism, Denney should be able to stick behind the plate, but even if his defensive skills don’t reach the level needed to be a big league catcher, that same athleticism should allow him to move to first base, where his bat will certainly be strong enough to play. One good year in full season ball in 2014, and Denney could very easily land in the top-10 of nearly all Red Sox prospect lists.