The first Top 10 list of this week centers on one of the most difficult positions to develop in all of baseball, the catcher. Big league catchers require the defensive chops and durability to handle the day-in, day-out grind of the position, while teams also expect them to make some offensive contributions on a daily basis. This year’s catching crop offers some very intriguing players that could be All-Star level catchers every year.
1. Jesus Montero – Seattle Mariners
Montero gets sits alone atop this list for two reasons. First and foremost because he is the only catcher listed here who possesses legitimate star potential at the plate. He has the potential to hit in the middle of a championship big league lineup and produce as much as a .300 average and 30 home runs a year. Second, Montero remains a catcher name only. He is unlikely to play behind the dish more than a typical backup and that may even disappear within the next couple of years.
2. Travis d’Arnaud – Toronto Blue Jays
3. Devin Mesoraco – Cincinnati Reds
4. Wilin Rosario – Colorado Rockies
Each of the three catchers in this tier represents both offensive and at least average defensive potential. D’Arnaud has the potential to offer the best combination of offense and defense as he finishes polishing his game, while Mesoraco should have offensive numbers that rival d’Arnaud’s while playing defense that’s just a tick behind that level. Rosario is the riskiest of the three but if he proves he can hit in the big leagues he should be a power threat that can hit fifth or sixth in a lineup.
5. Sebastian Valle – Philadelphia Phillies
6. Christian Bethancourt – Atlanta Braves
Both Valle and Bethancourt are extremely risky propositions but their raw tools are very hard to ignore. Bethancourt is a freakish defender that could get to the big leagues on the back of his glove work alone, while also offering the power potential to be an everyday guy. Valle should be a solid all-around player with some potential to be an above-average offensive player, but he comes with the risk that if his tools don’t fully develop, he may not be a big leaguer.
7. Yasmani Grandal – San Diego Padres
8. Derek Norris – Oakland Athletics
9. Gary Sanchez – New York Yankees
10. Ryan Lavarnway – Boston Red Sox
This final tier of players represents an intriguing mix of prospects that all carry some risk, albeit for different reasons. Grandal is the least risky player in this bunch and he should be a big leaguer without much trouble. Where his risk enters the picture is that he lacks the ceiling owned by others throughout this ranking. Norris may never hit enough for his power to play at the highest level, not to mention his defense has never been considered top notch. Sanchez is extremely young and risky in every facet of his game, but his offensive upside is beyond considerable. Lavarnway is an offense-first backstop whose defensive abilities are still questioned by scouts.
Just Missed: Wellington Castillo – Chicago Cubs, Tommy Joseph – San Francisco Giants, Jorge Alfaro – Texas Rangers, Blake Swihart – Boston Red Sox, Austin Hedges – San Diego Padres