Impact Prospect Rankings: Catchers

I began the year at RotoGraphs by producing a semi-regularly-updated Top 25 prospects list. For the second half of the year and into the offseason, I’ll be rotating expanded Top 10, 12 or 15 lists (on a far more regular basis) by position: C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, LF/RF, CF, RHSP (tier 1), RHSP (tier 2), LHSP. Whether you play traditional formats of fantasy baseball or dynasty/keeper styles (or you’re just a prospect nut like me), you’ll surely find these lists indispensable.

 

#1 Blake Swihart | Red Sox | ETA: 2015 (C)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
22 354 98 21 11 27 58 6 .303 .356 .489 .375

July 28 Notes: The 26th selection from the 2011 amateur draft, Swihart’s offense has gotten  stronger with each passing season. His gap power has started to manifest itself in more over-the-fence pop and he’s continued to hit for average. The Red Sox appear set for the future with both Swihart, 22, and defensive whiz Christian Vazquez, 23, behind the dish.

 

#2 Kevin Plawecki | Mets | ETA: 2015 (C)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
23 302 84 20 8 21 34 0 .310 .368 .472 .373

July 28 Notes: Plawecki is knocking on the door of a big league promotion after less than three seasons in professional baseball. Originally selected 35th overall out of Purdue University in 2012, the young backstop has improved his defense behind the plate while also showing a solid stick thanks to a great contact rate and gap power. Travis d’Arnaud currently has the title of ‘Catcher of the Future’ for the Mets but his offensive inconsistencies could open the door for Plawecki to come stomping on through.

 

#3 Austin Hedges | Padres | ETA: 2015 (C)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
21 355 78 18 5 18 64 0 .236 .280 .348 .288

July 28 Notes: When the 2014 season began, I had Hedges ranked as the No. 1 catching prospect in baseball — and the 34th overall best prospect. Fast-forward four months and he now sits third in the catcher ranking. We know defence will always be Hedges’ calling card and offence with come a distant second but a .280 on-base percentage in Double-A is more than a little underwhelming. Add in the fact that his modest power has regressed and you have to be concerned.

 

#4 Chance Sisco | Orioles | ETA: 2017 (C/DH)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
19 346 107 21 4 28 59 1 .345 .408 .458 .397

July 28 Notes: Former No. 1 pick Matt Wieters no longer appears to be ‘the catcher of the future’ in Baltimore and it’s quite possible that he’ll leave Baltimore once he’s eligible for free agency. The most intriguing in-house option is Sisco. The young catcher has hit extremely well in his first taste of full season ball and boasts a triple-slash line of .347/.410/.459 in 83 games. The left-handed hitting teenager is loaded with offensive potential but his defense needs a lot of polish.

 

#5 Max Pentecost | Blue Jays | ETA: 2017 (C/DH)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
21 71 23 3 0 2 8 1 .338 .352 .412 .357

July 28 Notes: The Toronto Blue Jays enjoyed two first round draft picks in 2014 and nabbed perhaps the best catcher available in the class with the 11th overall selection. Since turning pro, Pentecost has shown a strong offensive game, albeit in short-season-ball leagues. Look for him to jump on the fast track in 2015 and quite possibly open the year in High-A ball.

 

#6 Jorge Alfaro | Rangers | ETA: 2016 (C)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
21 409 94 19 12 23 97 6 .252 .311 .421 .332

July 28 Notes: Alfaro has his share of promoters on the prospect evaluation landscape but both his offensive and defensive games need polish. The most intriguing facet of the 21-year-old Colombia native is his raw power, which comes with high strikeout rates and low walk rates. If he develops as hoped, though, he could be a special player.

 

#7 Christian Bethancourt | Braves | ETA: 2014 (C)


Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
22 53 3.8 % 26.4 % .240 .283 .260 .249 54 -3.2 0.0 -0.2

July 28 Notes: Bethancourt is similar to Hedges as a plus defender with a questionable bat. The 22-year-old backstop has spent some time in the Majors over the past two seasons and he may have to eventually settle into a back-up role in deference to the offensive-minded Evan Gattis — assuming the Panama native remains in the organization.

 

#8 Andrew Susac | Giants | ETA: 2015 (C)


Age PA BB% K% AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ Off Def WAR
24 1 0.0 % 0.0 % .000 .000 .000 .000 -100 -0.2 0.0 0.0

July 28 Notes: Susac is not in the most enviable position. A solid catching prospect, he’s stuck behind big league star Buster Posey. The organization is understandably fond of the backstop prospect so they haven’t been swayed to part with him in a deal just yet but it may only be a matter of time; his bat is too intriguing to be stuck in a back-up role.

 

#9 Gary Sanchez | Yankees | ETA: 2016 (C)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
21 367 92 17 10 31 69 1 .277 .341 .419 .343

July 28 Notes: Sanchez, 21, was once considered the top catching prospect in baseball but his star no longer shines as brightly and the long-term contract bestowed upon Brian McCann certainly creates a significant roadblock. The young Dominican catcher may now be most valuable to the Yankees as trade fodder. He continues to tease talent evaluators with flashes of a potentially above-average bat.

 

#10 A.J. Jimenez | Blue Jays | ETA: 2015 (C)


Age PA H 2B HR BB SO SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA
24 299 72 20 2 18 46 2 .261 .304 .362 .302

July 28 Notes: It hasn’t been an easy road through the minor leagues for Jimenez, who is in his seventh pro season and missed a significant portion of the 2012 season after an elbow injury that required reconstructive surgery. Now 24, the Puerto Rico native shows flashes of holding his own at the plate while playing above-average defense behind it.




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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospect analysis. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.


17 Responses to “Impact Prospect Rankings: Catchers”

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  1. Double J says:

    Marc, would it be possible to list the minor league and/or level next to the players’ stat lines?

    Also Chance Sisco has a great name, sounds like a quarterback.

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  2. Marc Hulet says:

    It would have to be built into the program that David created to generate the lists but I can ask — it just isn’t a quick fix. I’ll try and mention it in writeups going forward, but you can also click on the players’ names and it will take you to their detailed stats pages with that info.

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  3. Mike Schmidt (not that one) says:

    Would Tyler Marlette rank 11th on this list?

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  4. pirates hurdles says:

    Reese McGuire seems to be missing based on all the other prospect midseason updates. Do you have that little of an opinion of the bat?

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  5. Bobby Ayala says:

    Was Clint Coulter on the radar for this list?

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  6. Marc Hulet says:

    Reese McGuire was next on the list at 11… Kyle Schwarber, for those wondering, is on the OF list. Based on the development of the bat, I’m guessing they’ll keep him at a position that will allow him to move swiftly.

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    • Spud says:

      I would think with the list of top prospects the Cubs are bringing up over the next 2 years, they would want to keep Schwarber behind the plate if its plausible. Is his defense good enough to possibly stay there?

      An OF of Almora, Soler, Bryant (if they moved him), or Alcantara may be crowded for Schwarber..

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  7. Pepe says:

    J.T. Realmuto?

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  8. wsmith says:

    How about Max Strassi?

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  9. BranchRickey11937 says:

    If the theme is ‘impact’ it’s hard to see how you rank Alfaro lower than third. Just a small step up in his game and his numbers will start to look pretty impressive. There have been some signs of maturation this season, such as a reduced strikeout rate, which at about 24% isn’t really bad for a young power hitter. And power is the calling card that makes him so much more appealing as a catching prospect IMO.

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    • Cool Lester Smooth says:

      Yeah, if he just gets a lot better at baseball, he’ll be a lot better at baseball!

      It’s not like you can say that about everyone who’s ever picked up a bat!

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  10. LCBF says:

    So far, Vazquez is framing pitches at a 4.+ WAR rate. Attempted steals/game are amongst the lowest in the league and his bat is certainly above replacement level. That’s impact.

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