Top 15 MLB Catcher Prospects Heading into Spring Training
Top 15 MLB Catcher Prospects Heading into Spring Training
It could be said that every Major League Baseball team has at least two managers. One is the well known manager that stands or sits in the dugout and makes decisions from there. The other is the man crouched behind home plate. That’s right, the catcher is so important to the team that he is almost another manager. He does call the pitches after all. Even those who get pitches called from the dugout have to change the call when the pitcher shakes them off.
Their work doesn’t stop there however. If a throw is coming towards the plate there is no time to look at what the manager says so it most of the time falls to the catcher to make the call. If he says throw it to home plate they’ll do it. If he says cut it off and throw it to another base, they will do it. Those are a couple of good examples of how important a good catcher is to every MLB team and every MLB game.
Though they might seem to fall behind pitchers in prospect status, it only seems that way because there are fewer of them. Basically there are five to one starting pitchers to everyday catchers on each MLB team and the ratio is even higher than that when comparing future top pitchers to future everyday catchers in the minors. There are fewer of them but they are just as important. If you do not believe that just look at Buster Posey and Yadier Molina to name two. Here are the top 15 MLB catching prospects.
15 – J.T. Realmuto – Miami Marlins
Some opinions will differ on Realmuto but the Marlins farmhand is a minor league all-star two years running. His offense could use a little more pop but he can handle the bat and his defense is looking pretty good as well. Depending on what happens with the Marlins big league club, he could get a shot at some partial MLB time within the next season or two.
14 – Carson Kelly – St. Louis Cardinals
One key factor for Kelly will be that everyone must understand God broke the mold when he created Yadier Molina. There will likely be few catchers that great at running a game in the entire future of the game but Kelly still has plenty of ability to take the reins of the club one day soon. He has a lot of offensive pop and potential. He may never win a ton of Gold Gloves but he has what it takes to lead a team every day.
13 – Michael Ohlman – Baltimore Orioles
While Ohlman might not be the gift to defensive skills behind the plate, he is way more than able. With that in mind think of his offensive numbers from 2013. He was .313 with 13 home runs and 53 RBI. That included a trip to the all-star game and two player of the week awards. I think he warrants quite a good deal of attention considering the uncertain future of the Orioles current catching situation.
12 – Stryker Trahan – Arizona Diamondbacks
Though Trahan fell a little this year from last year’s rankings, all is not exactly lost. His all-star selection in the Arizona Fall League serves as proof that he is still on the path towards a successful MLB catching career.
11 – Tom Murphy – Colorado Rockies
By show of hands, who thinks that the Rockies best option as a future catcher should be a powerful slugger who can jack home runs? Yes, that’s what I thought. Well Murphy has 22 homers and 83 RBI in 2013. How is that for powerful? His defense only needs to be average if his offense continues at that rate.
10 – Tyler Marlette – Seattle Mariners
Marlette has some work to do on his defensive game but he has time to get it done. He isn’t scheduled for a likely MLB showing until 2016. He already has shown a ton of offensive potential however and that should only improve as he goes forward.
9 – Nick Ciuffo – Tampa Bay Rays
Ciuffo was the second best catcher in the 2013 MLB Draft class and the Rays quickly grabbed him in the first round. He really just got started but everyone likes his potential on both sides of the coin. One thing he is already fully comfortable with is that magical ability of certain catchers to take charge of an entire team. That he can already do this at his age and experience level is ridiculous and extremely promising.
8 – Andrew Susac – San Francisco Giants
Susac is a strong offensive catcher whose defense is at least average. He should be able to show some of what he has during the 2014 MLB season. I know you’re thinking that he is blocked by Posey and you’re right. However, he still is going to probably get a chance to show some stuff. Good young catchers are extremely valuable after all and no one knows that better than Posey’s Giants.
7 – Reese McGuire – Pittsburgh Pirates
McGuire was the top catcher in last year’s draft class and it showed in his pick and it shows in his current ranking. This guy still has a while to grow his skills and don’t be surprised if he lands at the top of this list after one or two great minor league seasons.
6 – Christian Bethancourt – Atlanta Braves
Bethancourt has the honor of being one of the greatest defensive catchers in the entire game of baseball. His offense has always lagged behind but quite honestly with his defensive abilities it might not matter. Look for him to get at least one more season of minor league instruction to continue to bring along his offensive skills. Come the start of 2015 however, he will be extremely difficult to keep from the everyday catching job; even for Evan Gattis.
5 – Blake Swihart – Boston Red Sox
Swihart has some good all-around skills or he wouldn’t be this highly ranked. Defensively he made some marks by throwing out 42% of would-be base stealers this past minor league season. Needless to say that kind of ability lends itself to an everyday job by 2015 or 2016 if all goes well.
4 – Gary Sanchez – New York Yankees
Brian McCann has been firmly planted as the starting catcher of the Yankees but Sanchez is going to make some noise very soon. His slated date is around 2015 so keep an eye on his progress. He has all the tools to become every bit as good as any other catcher on this list if not better.
3 – Jorge Alfaro – Texas Rangers
No one who is a fan of the Rangers needs to be all that stressed over the catching position. Alfaro is going to arrive sometime around the 2016 season and when he does the job should be his for about as long as it was Ivan Rodriguez before him. Yes, he has the potential to be that good. I guess that is about all that needs to be said.
2 – Austin Hedges – San Diego Padres
Hedges might really be the top all-around catching prospect in baseball if health is considered as well as the other factors. He can be as good as anyone has been in a long time if he keeps going in the right direction and refuses to settle for less than his best.
1 – Travis d’Arnaud – New York Mets
The Mets have a lot to potentially look forward to in d’Arnaud but they also have a lot to worry about. He wouldn’t sit at the top of this list if he weren’t an amazing catcher, at least in the way of potential. However, he has been injured seriously in each of the last two seasons. He should get the everyday catching nod from the Mets this season. We’ll just have to see what he does with it.