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  1. No Lavarnway?

    I know he’s up in the bigs right now, but he spent pretty much the entire regular MiLB season down in AAA.

    Comment by Jonathan — September 24, 2012 @ 3:03 pm

  2. Note, I’m mainly inquiring this point more in the “Why Swihart and not Lavarnway” sense. Lavarnway had a much better year than Swihart did in the Sox system.

    Comment by Jonathan — September 24, 2012 @ 3:04 pm

  3. Keep in mind this is a list of the best catchers I’ve seen in person in 2012. By no means is it meant to be a complete list of all catchers in minor league baseball. That is discussed in the opening.

    Comment by Mike Newman — September 24, 2012 @ 3:16 pm

  4. Did you see any Josh Phegley? If so, where would he rank?

    Comment by Eminor3rd — September 24, 2012 @ 3:33 pm

  5. Hicks? Marder? Freitas?

    where do these rank???

    Comment by Spike — September 24, 2012 @ 3:43 pm

  6. I feel like the Rangers Skole/Deglan draft was a lot more about bankruptcy than anything else. Who knows for sure what their plans were for sure, but that draft screamed of “just take someone who’ll sign”.

    Comment by Ross — September 24, 2012 @ 3:46 pm

  7. Federowicz?

    Comment by Spike — September 24, 2012 @ 4:08 pm

  8. He’s worse than Derek Norris at the dish.

    Comment by Charlie — September 24, 2012 @ 4:10 pm

  9. Would have expected to see Sebastian Valle over Gabriel Lino for the Phillies.

    Comment by Phrozen — September 24, 2012 @ 4:13 pm

  10. But on second reading, your methodology is explained clearly and I biffed it. Nevermind.

    Comment by Phrozen — September 24, 2012 @ 4:14 pm

  11. can you list those you haven’t seen so those won’t be automatic snubs, if you will?

    Comment by Spike — September 24, 2012 @ 4:24 pm

  12. I haven’t seen Phegley in quite awhile — Since Kannapolis actually. I thought he was OK then and his defense had received a much worse rap than was warranted. I doubt there’s a starter there, but he should get some big league time in the not to distant future.

    Comment by Mike Newman — September 24, 2012 @ 4:33 pm

  13. Saw Freitas in 2011. Once again, this list ONLY includes the best catchers I saw this season. Had I done this last year, Freitas would have ranked somewhere on that list. Pretty balanced guy all-around, but nothing that really stands out.

    Comment by Mike Newman — September 24, 2012 @ 4:35 pm

  14. This is funny, because I read most prospect lists and think, “No way has this blogger seen half of these guys play.” Finally, somebody finally comes in and is honest and does not pretend like he has seen every prospect enough to make a good opinion and he gets ripped for “leaving guys out”…I guess each way has its pros and cons.

    Comment by Nayr Mit — September 24, 2012 @ 4:35 pm

  15. Might have been. It might also have had something to do with the re-allocation of funds from the amateur draft to IFA to sign a couple of top dogs. At any rate, those two first rounders have been awfully disappointing.

    Comment by Mike Newman — September 24, 2012 @ 4:36 pm

  16. Saw Fed in 2009 or 2010 — Whenever he was in Greenville. I liked him quite a bit at the time actually. Definitely a big leaguer for me, but more likely as a top flight backup or fringe starter.

    Comment by Mike Newman — September 24, 2012 @ 4:37 pm

  17. Valle would have been ranked more highly. I saw Valle while a member of the Lakewood BlueClaws and he was one of my favorite prospects that season. For me personally, no prospect frustrates me more than Valle. I know the tools are special, but the god awful plate discipline hurts him more than any prospect I’ve seen in person.

    Comment by Mike Newman — September 24, 2012 @ 4:39 pm

  18. I don’t think he’s being ripped. I think some (myself included) didn’t realize the qualification given for this list.

    I’d just like to know the ones we should exclude bc he hasn’t seen them, rather than not included just bc they aren’t top top 10 material.

    Comment by Spike — September 24, 2012 @ 4:40 pm

  19. I think he has big league catching skills. He should be with someone by now, imo.

    Comment by Spike — September 24, 2012 @ 4:41 pm

  20. In these lists I’ll pretty much include anybody noteworthy. If I really stretched, I could probably include Jordan Weems (Red Sox), Gorman Erickson (Dodgers) and Adrian Nieto (Nationals). To be honest, I just didn’t think they were worth another couple hundred words on top of a 1,000 word piece.

    Comment by Mike Newman — September 24, 2012 @ 4:42 pm

  21. do you have an opinion on Hicks? He’s throwing out over 40% of runners and improving with the stick tho that could be Cal league aided…

    Comment by Spike — September 24, 2012 @ 4:43 pm

  22. I don’t take it as being ripped. These lists are different. I mean who else ranks the best of what they’ve seen? Pretty sure I’m the only one. More than anything, I just want readers to have an accurate representation of where I’ve been in 2012 and the best of that crop.

    Wait until I start working on a top-100 of players I’ve seen in person at the MILB level. Heads are going to explode.

    Comment by Mike Newman — September 24, 2012 @ 4:45 pm

  23. no. pls list those you HAVEN’T seen so we’ll know not to look for anything on those. Thnx.

    Comment by Spike — September 24, 2012 @ 4:45 pm

  24. I really can’t argue with you there.

    Comment by Mike Newman — September 24, 2012 @ 4:46 pm

  25. No opinion on Hicks. My home base is 2,130 miles from Adelanto, CA. I’ll be happy to take a closer look for you in 2013 if he’s a member of Double-A Jackson.

    Comment by Mike Newman — September 24, 2012 @ 4:50 pm

  26. That’s a pretty crazy request to be honest. Consider the fact Kellin Deglan is ranked 10th and I pretty much called him a non-prospect at this point. Couldn’t you pretty much take any catching prospect, compare him against the list and come to the conclusion I didn’t see that guy?

    Comment by Mike Newman — September 24, 2012 @ 4:54 pm

  27. If you were the Yankees would you start Sanchez at A+ or AA next season. If he was at a different position I think you’d want to be aggressive with him. But is he defensively ready for AA?

    Comment by Preston — September 24, 2012 @ 5:26 pm

  28. Mike,

    Do you have any projection for Zunino’s offensive abilities or a player comp? Thanks for the writeup.

    Comment by Average_Casey — September 24, 2012 @ 5:38 pm

  29. No Buster Posey?

    Comment by Didn't Read the Article — September 24, 2012 @ 5:41 pm

  30. Hey Mike, since he’s in the same org and I think he went through the Sally, can you comp Swanner to the “Baby Bull,” who might have my favorite power hitter’s swing in MLB? Is he that same type of brute strength cripple pitch hitter, or does the hit tool play up a little more?

    Comment by Paul — September 24, 2012 @ 6:05 pm

  31. I didn’t see Rosario. He never played in the Sally, but Swanner is long and lean. He’s nothing like Rosario from a physical standpoint.

    Comment by Mike Newman — September 24, 2012 @ 6:39 pm

  32. What’s the rush? Another half season in A+ would be good for him. I don’t think he did anything in the FSL to really show he was ready for the jump right now.

    Comment by Mike Newman — September 24, 2012 @ 6:40 pm

  33. I wonder if he can post numbers like McCann and provide the same amount of value? Just spit balling here more than anything.

    Comment by Mike Newman — September 24, 2012 @ 6:48 pm

  34. I think Spike is teasing you.

    Comment by Baltar — September 24, 2012 @ 7:02 pm

  35. I appreciate the honesty and clarity of your methodology of only discussing players you’ve seen in person.
    On the other hand, your judgement of a player whom you might have seen in only one game without support from statistics has very validity.
    Buyer beware!

    Comment by Baltar — September 24, 2012 @ 7:07 pm

  36. Baltar,

    I think you vastly overrate the value of statistics at the lower levels of minor league baseball — Especially when it comes to players who are old for the level. Statistics become increasingly important as a player moves closer to the big league level. Think of it as a sliding scale. Don’t mistake them for having the same value as a MLB player.

    As for one look, everybody would like to see a guy as many times as possible. On this list alone, I showed up to watch Blake Swihart catch 5 times and he was penciled in the lineup 2 times — once as a catcher. I’ve traveled to watch Gary Sanchez 3 times and he was in the lineup once. Does that mean don’t bother? After four-plus years of doing this, I’m confident in my track record whether it’s 1 look, 10 looks or 100 looks.

    Comment by Mike Newman — September 24, 2012 @ 8:35 pm

  37. Because Lavarnway is a AAAA player and has never really been a prospect?

    Comment by jon — September 24, 2012 @ 9:34 pm

  38. Did you see Austin Hedges?

    Comment by James — September 24, 2012 @ 9:45 pm

  39. Haven’t seen Deglan in person, but his numbers suggest he’s a bit more than a non-prospect. He’s throwing out 38% of runners this year and while his hit tool is definitely lacking, his ISO is over .200. Plus he’s still only 20 years old. When you consider he was a 1st round pick, overall it’s sort of disappointing so far, but he’s still a prospect at least.

    Comment by Kevin — September 24, 2012 @ 10:10 pm

  40. Thanks for the great article, I always enjoy your prospect write-ups. And thanks for the reply. The rush is that Russell Martin flirted with the Mendoza line most of the year and is a free-agent, Chris Stewart is horrible, Cervelli wasn’t much better at AAA and Romine’s back makes it a question if he’ll ever be able to catch. Add in the 2014 austerity plan and catcher isn’t looking so bright for the Yanks. Although none of these things are good reasons to move a prospect up. Just wishful thinking that if he was in AA to start the season he might be ready to make a big league impact by 2014.

    Comment by Preston — September 24, 2012 @ 10:47 pm

  41. OH. MY. GOD. This is something different. There are a dozen other places you can go to get a list of catching prospects. Mike wants to rank and talk about the ones he’s seen. Can’t you just shut up and take it for what it is?

    Comment by This guy — September 25, 2012 @ 12:44 am

  42. How about Travis D’Arnaud? Didn’t see him before his knee injury?

    Comment by exxrox — September 25, 2012 @ 1:33 am

  43. do you see swanner’s future as more a mike napoli type than a full-time catcher?

    Comment by jim — September 25, 2012 @ 2:46 am

  44. Saw D’Arnaud back in 2009 and went absolutely nuts over him. My previous work from Scouting The Sally is in need of a new home, but my piece back then would indicate I was extremely bullish on him and rated the bat higher than anybody else at the time.

    Comment by Mike Newman — September 25, 2012 @ 8:30 am

  45. Like I said… Some power and catch-and-throw skills. Having seen Deglan in 2011 and 2012, I just don’t think it comes together in the end. Maybe he winds up getting some time as a backup who runs into a fastball every now and then. I really want to like Deglan. I just can’t.

    Comment by Mike Newman — September 25, 2012 @ 8:33 am

  46. No, but a contact did. I posted those thoughts under my Midwest League pieces earlier this year. In person, Hedges presented as the opposite of what was said pre-draft — Better bat, but not as much glove as was indicated.

    Comment by Mike Newman — September 25, 2012 @ 8:34 am

  47. If you are familiar with my work over the past few years, you would know I’ve never understood the excitement surrounding Lavarnway in general. I saw him in 2009 and was more so-so on him than anything. I didn’t view him as a legit catching prospect even though the bat had potential.

    Comment by Mike Newman — September 25, 2012 @ 8:39 am

  48. Preston,

    I liked Sanchez, but noted in my original piece concerns about the swing-and-miss present, as well as struggles moving laterally to frame/block pitches. For me, the risk of rushing him is too great versus the reward it might yield. There’s the potential for him to crash and burn if moved too quickly.

    Comment by Mike Newman — September 25, 2012 @ 9:27 am

  49. I know Napoli has struggled this season, but that’s very high praise. I don’t have a good working comp for Swanner, but will say he doesn’t walk as much as Napoli did. Swanner had a 101/38 K/BB ratio at 20 in A-Ball while Napoli’s was 104/62 at the same age and level, albeit a different league.

    Comment by Mike Newman — September 25, 2012 @ 9:31 am

  50. Very Cool that someone is actually getting out from behind a computer to look at the people they are writing about. Keep up the good work!!!!

    Comment by pitchncatch — September 25, 2012 @ 10:20 am

  51. Were you able to see Christian Bethancourt this season or has he completely fallen off of the top prospects lists?

    Comment by JT — September 25, 2012 @ 10:34 am

  52. Personally, I appreciate a guy trying to be as transparent as possible with what what he’s experienced. There are too many scouts and evaluators out there who claim to “know” when their information is simply passed through word of mouth. On the other side, I don’t have a problem with a guy who relies on sources and has a network of people who’s observations can be trusted, but we never hear about the true source, so it’s hard to put that information into context. You end up speculating “a list” based on a slop pile of first hand observations, second hand accounts, guesses, statistical probability, statistical reality, and on and on…

    This article is more towards a different way of starting the conversation. Having said that, I would like to see a list of players that weren’t seen but do generally receive favorable attention by the masses because it is hard to imagine how these guys might fit within the big picture. At the very least it would be interesting to see how many of those guys you weren’t able to get to as a single scout.

    Comment by baty — September 25, 2012 @ 11:38 am

  53. This Guy:
    omg, spare us your drama. I merely asked for MN to throw out some of the better known C prospects that he *hasn’t* seen so that I/we would understand that Cs left off this list aren’t necessarily snubs. How is that an unreasonable request? jeez.

    Comment by Spike — September 25, 2012 @ 1:22 pm

  54. I know you trust your eyes over stats for young players, but I do think it’s encouraging that he dropped his K rate from 27% a year ago to 22% this year. I know he was repeating a level, but the K rate held constant after his promotion. Hopefully he can continue to improve in that area. His defense seems more troubling, because I don’t know how he’s going to improve in his lateral quickness. Is this an area where players can normally make substantial progress?

    Comment by Preston — September 25, 2012 @ 2:18 pm

  55. No Johnny Bench! Are you nuts?

    …..oh, wait

    Comment by Aman — September 25, 2012 @ 2:31 pm

  56. hmm well i didn’t mean so much offensively as defensively, like a C/1B/DH

    Comment by jim — September 25, 2012 @ 4:47 pm

  57. Great work Mike. Keep it up.

    Comment by garrioch13 — September 25, 2012 @ 10:21 pm

  58. Had I seen Bethancourt this season… oh wait… I could have listed him actually as I saw the Braves prospect all-stars early in the season. Thanks to you, I’ll probably have to go in and fix this list now!

    In 2010-2011, I probably saw Bethancourt 20 times combined? Maybe more. His tools are fantastic and it’s the best arm I’ve seen behind the dish. The Braves have really rushed the bat and that worries me.

    Comment by Mike Newman — September 25, 2012 @ 10:40 pm

  59. ” I merely asked for MN to throw out some of the better known C prospects that he *hasn’t* seen so that I/we would understand that Cs left off this list aren’t necessarily snubs.”

    I was really hoping the guy above was right when he surmised you were joking, but I wasn’t counting on it. Do you really need a list of the catchers someone hasn’t seen when he’s ending his list with Kellin Deglan. Name one good catching prospect who would rank lower than Deglan.

    Comment by E-Dub — September 25, 2012 @ 10:42 pm

  60. Baty,

    Very thoughtful post, but here’s the thing. If you read through the comments, you’ll notice I’ve seen pretty much every catcher readers have asked about, albeit not this past season. If anything, I could create another group of pieces discussing the top-10 I’ve seen at positions over the past four years.

    Comment by Mike Newman — September 25, 2012 @ 10:46 pm

  61. Bethancourt was inserted as the 4th best catcher I saw in person. I also added prospects from the Braves prospect all-star game to other lists so I wouldn’t forgot to include them again.

    Comment by Mike Newman — September 26, 2012 @ 7:44 am

  62. Yes Preston. His dropping K rate is a great sign – Especially the fact Sanchez carried it over to Double-A. Being so young, I’m not overly concerned about the low walk rates at this point. However, when I say there’s a chance to crash and burn if pushed to hard, it’s due to concerns about Sanchez expanding the strike zone against more advanced pitching and not being able to adjust.

    Comment by Mike Newman — September 26, 2012 @ 7:59 am

  63. Thanks for adding Christian. I’m also worried about the Braves rushing him so fast. He’s still only 21 so he has time to develop offensively. Hopefully they leave him in AA again next season and don’t promote him again until his bat catches up to his defense a little.

    Comment by JT — September 26, 2012 @ 8:31 am

  64. I prefer the ballpark to internet research any day of the week. The only problem is that traveling costs money while Google searches aren’t charged by the keyword.

    Comment by Mike Newman — September 26, 2012 @ 12:13 pm

  65. It’s cool… I like the idea of opening the door to commenters to create that discussion about those players very much. I guess that’s just me being lazy when it comes to wanting instant gratification, and having to make the list of players that weren’t a part of the article myself :)

    Comment by baty — September 26, 2012 @ 3:02 pm

  66. These players are being judged by folks who only know stats. If it’s for fantasy leagues that’s cool, but if it’s actually trying to give an objective opinion on someone it’s not . Austin Hedges is a perfect example. He hit really well for his age and level. He really only caught “OK” this season. If you read what others wrote on him they are just taking the original draft talk and rewriting it. Here is what Jonathan Mayo wrote,” The SoCal high-school product may be the best defensive backstop from the Draft class, with a plus arm and outstanding receiving skills to go along with natural leadership skills. He’s received body-type comparisons to Craig Biggio and Brad Ausmus and he should have some power as a professional. His overall hitting potential remains to be seen. His bat is well behind his glove, but he should hit enough to be an everyday catcher in the big leagues down the road.
    I am not picking on Austin Hedges, but Jonathan Mayo picked him as the 5th best catcher in the minors??
    Keep up the great work

    Comment by pitchncatch — September 27, 2012 @ 10:43 am

  67. I saw Phegley a few weeks ago in the International League playoffs. He turned on a Gerrit Cole fastball for about 420 feet. He looked healthy with a quick bat. I think if he stays healthy, that he’ll hit well enough to be Pierzynski’s heir apparent.

    Comment by Senior Circuit Court — October 16, 2012 @ 4:30 pm

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