At last count, 12 of the current 30 MLB managers were former catchers.
Most of them did not have a very successful major league career, but their skill set has given many of them a ton of success managing a major league team. I never wanted to be a catcher growing up. I was asked to try once in little league, and I blinked every time the batter swung. Needless to say, it wasn’t a pleasant experience. Catchers have to be aware of every aspect of the game at all times. They need to call the pitches, block the plate, throw out runners, align the defense, and still expected to contribute on offense. Off the field, catchers are not only developing plans for the skill set of the pitchers on their staff, but they must study the hitters of the teams that they will be playing to determine how to call individual match ups. This preparation and work ethic enables them to excel as managers and handling a pitching staff, but it is rare that you find truly offensive catchers. Those that are truly gifted bats, often get moved to another position to allow their hit and power tools to be developed. With this in mind, let’s take a look at a few young guys that will hopefully still be catchers by the time they reach the majors.
Mejia is the first of three teenage catching prospects we will discuss in this piece. He is a switch-hitting catcher with plus power and hit tools. His raw talent can make you salivate. In his first exposure to pro ball he crushed the Arizona Rookie League pitching to a tune of .305/.348/.524 slash line. Yes it is a small sample size of around 100 ABs but 4 HRs, 24 RBIs and only 18 Ks as a teenager has him immediately on my radar. He is in extended spring training and has yet to be a player in a game this season. The organization would like to develop his defense at catcher. He has potential to develop there but all he needs to be is a serviceable defensive catcher to become a Top 5 Catcher in the majors due to his stick. Carlos Santana has already moved from behind the plate and Yan Gomes won’t be a catcher much longer. There is only one significant catching prospect in front of Francisco is Tony Wolters who is in AA. He can hold down the fort for Mejia to develop and arrive in the majors around 2018. You do not want to sleep on this guy because he will likely be a Top 100 prospect going into 2015. Even if his defense doesn’t develop to stay behind the plate, his raw power will still bring him value regardless of what position he ends up settling into at the major league level.
Grullon was signed as an international free agent and debuted in 2013 Rookie ball as a 17-year-old. He sported a respectable .273/.333/.364 in 132 plate appearances last season. He was promoted to full-season A ball in less than a week in April, 2014. With only around 50 ABs so far in 2014, its too small a sample size to determine progress. That being said, he is only 18 and has plenty of time to develop into what scouts believe projects into a power hitting catcher with possibility to hit for a decent average. His frame and defensive prowess should ensure he remains at catcher throughout his path to the majors. He has a plus arm that will likely be a sniper throwing out would-be base stealers in the future. The Phillies have a few catching prospects in their system to hold down the fort for Grullon who likely won’t be called up until 2018. He is still under the radar in most league including dynasty leagues so you should pick him or try to get him cheap if you have long-term developmental rosters in your league. Deivi will likely become a hot prospect that everyone will know about in a year or two. Get him while you can.
Sisco is actually a converted SS. It’s not often that a high school prep star learns a new position in pro ball, but that is what Sisco is doing. He already has an advanced approach at the plate as a teenager as he blew up the Gulf Coast league in his first taste after being drafted in the 2nd round of the 2013 amateur draft. He combined at two levels in 2013 short season ball to hit .363 with .468 OBP. He had 18 BB and only 23 Ks in 2013. The only disappointment was the lack of power with 1 HR. Sisco doesn’t necessarily project to be a power hitter, but scouts seem to think he could offer moderate power which would have been great value for a catcher with the hit tool. He has made the move up to full-season A ball this year and has been ok at the plate after 100 plate appearances. It appears that he is focusing on developing his catching skills at this level. The Orioles can afford to be patient with Chance as they still have Wieters under control through 2015 and Michael Ohlman, a decent hitting catching prospect in AA, that will likely take over catching duties when Wieters moves on. Sisco probably won’t see The Show until 2017 unless he moves to the OF because they need his bat in Baltimore. He is an excellent stash in a deep keeper or dynasty league. His approach at the plate likely will ensure he has success at the plate once he learns how to hit lefties. If he continues to develop defensively at catcher he could be a Top100 prospect in 2015.
Bryan Luhrs Real Deal Dynasty Sports Leagues, Creator & Commissioner MajorLeagueFantasySports.com, Fantasy Baseball Writer http://www.realdealdynasty.com @realdealdynasty