Last year’s Top 10 Catchers represented a bumper crop of backstops, many of which graduated to the big leagues. Of the ten players included in last year’s list, Jesus Montero (#1), Devin Mesoraco (#3), Wilin Rosario (#4), Yasmani Grandal (#7), Derek Norris (#8) and Ryan Lavarnway (#10) have all graduated, leaving plenty of space for newcomers.
1. Austin Hedges – San Diego Padres
2. Travis d’Arnaud – New York Mets
3. Mike Zunino – Seattle Mariners
After just missing last year’s ranking, Austin Hedges vaults to the top of the list in this version. The best defensive catcher in the minor leagues, Hedges could be a monster behind the plate and showed surprising ability at the plate in his full-season debut. D’Arnaud’s trade to the Mets pushes him a little under the radar but he still represents one of the best all-around catching prospects in the game. Zunino was a top pick of the Mariners last summer and while there are still scouts that believe he will be more solid than star, Zunino is a quality defensive catcher with some feel for hitting and power in his bat.
4. Gary Sanchez – New York Yankees
5. Jorge Alfaro – Texas Rangers
6. Christian Bethancourt – Atlanta Braves
This next tier of prospects represents three players with huge upside and also some significant developmental hurdles. Jorge Alfaro has the highest upside of the trio, offering exceptional arm strength, raw defensive tools and crazy raw power. His ceiling is that of an All-Star, but he also comes with considerable risk. Gary Sanchez has the offensive potential to carry him at any position on the diamond, but his attitude and defense will have to come along for him to stick behind the plate. Bethancourt is the exact opposite, owning a tremendous arm and defensive tools that rank closely behind Austin Hedges, but his bat is light and he may never hit a ton.
7. Blake Swihart – Boston Red Sox
8. Stryker Trahan – Arizona Diamondbacks
Both Swihart and Trahan have the raw potential to move up this list over the next year, but both also carry significant risk long term. Swihart is far more likely to remain at catcher where his strong arm and quickness behind the plate played well last summer. He has some potential with the bat and could become a force in the near term. Trahan’s profile is centered on his bat with scouts openly questioning his long term defensive projection.
9. Rob Brantly – Miami Marlins
10. Tommy Joseph – Philadelphia Phillies
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Brantly and Joseph don’t offer big upside, but they do offer some sense of certainty going forward. Both players are still rough around the edges defensively and may never rate better than fringe-average in that regard. Both also have pop in their bats and the potential to hit enough at the big league level to carry an everyday job.
Just Missed: Clint Coulter – Milwaukee Brewers, Michael Perez – Arizona Diamondbacks, Max Stassi – Oakland Athletics, Will Swanner – Colorado Rockies