MLB Pro 2019 Top 10 Catcher Prospects
Catching prospects are seldom found in MLB Pro, with many people opting for above average defense and hope that they can get slightly below average offensive output. With the collective offensive output of the position at the Major League level, this gives you a productive player in comparison to the other catchers in the league.
Some catching prospects that just missed our top 10 list are the Dodgers’ Jerry MacDonal, the Astros’ Joey Bart and the Orioles’ Rudy Bullock.
Going from the back end of the list, we begin with #10.
#10 | Ernesto Peña | Kannapolis Intimidators (CHW, A) | Age: 20 | Acquired via: Draft (2016, Rd 1, Pk 17)
Peña will be questioned if he ever has the glove needed to stick at catcher, which is why he’s lower on this list. What is undeniable though is his bat, especially his power. He began to tap into it in A-ball last season, and if he can continue, his bat will get him to the big league.
#9 | Patrick Belfour | Tri-City Valleycats (HOU, A-) | Age: 22 | Acquired via: Draft (2017, Rd 6, Pk 157)
Belfour’s value comes almost entirely from his defense, although he did have a strong showing last season for the Valleycats, which could be attributed to the end of his experiment as a 2-way player. If his offense can even be league average, he’ll become a very productive starting catcher.
#8 | Nick McCoy | Los Angeles Angels | Age: 23 | Acquired via: Rule 5 – TEX
It is very rare to find a player with this kind of value in the rule 5 draft, but McCoy slipped through the cracks because his production is not flashy, and he shows little upside. He’s young with elite defense and had a terrific season between A+/AA last season. He’ll likely be the backup for the Angels, but will be a very productive backup, who could become a starter soon.
#7 | Paul Bailey | Stockton Ports (OAK, A+) | Age: 22 | Acquired via: Trade with COL
Bailey is a lefty hitting catcher with big power, although he’s yet to tap into it. He does have a weak arm, but makes up for it with solid blocking and receiving. As his power develops, he’ll look more like the star we think he could become.
#6 | John Gilliam | St. Louis Cardinals | Age: 23 | Acquired via: Trade with BAL
Gilliam does nothing spectacular, just everything well. He’s not going to wow you, but he’ll provide solid production at the backend of your lineup and behind the plate. He’s rated highly on this list because he’s already proven himself at the minor league level, and will get the chance to start this season.
#5 | Ronnie Baxter | Columbus Clippers (CLE, AAA) | Age: 24 | Acquired via: Trade with CHC
Baxter is another that may never see time behind the plate, but he has done a decent enough job back there to stay there all the way through AA. His hitting is what makes him a major prospect, as he slugged 14 HR is half a season at AA. That being said, he struggled a ton in 2016, playing little after being selected in the first round, and struggled again at A+ in the start of 2018. Just something to keep an eye on.
#4 | Matt Hanson | Arizona Diamondbacks | Age: 23 | Acquired via: Draft (2013, Rd 27, Pk 793)
Hanson spent the end of the season as the starting C at the Major League level, and showed he belonged there. Hitting was never a question with him, after putting up 3+ WAR in half of a season at A+ in 2017 and AA in 2018. His defense does leave some to be desired, which is why he is slightly down on the list who played at a 7.0 WAR rate in the Majors. It also accounts for regression from his .372/.413/.504 slash line he had in 113 ABs last season. Either way, would not be surprised to see him in an All-Star game soon.
#3 | Ed Palmer | Washington Nationals | Age: 26 | Acquired via: MiLB signing
Palmer has pop from the left side of the plate. 20 HR in AAA in just over a half season shows the middle of the lineup bat that he has. He does need to improve his defense, but his bat makes him a must start, and being in the National League, it will be at catcher, although the Nats have toyed with him playing at 1B.
#2 | Ron Winterhalder | Houston Astros | Age: 23 | Acquired via: Trade with CHW
Winterhalder is similar to Gilliam, he just does everything well. He simply is average or better in every part of his game. This level of production makes him a great catcher, since you don’t have to worry about any part of his game. Just let him play his game, and focus on the other guys out there.
#1 | Chris Betts | Cleveland Indians | Age: 21 | Acquired via: Trade with COL
This one is a no-brainer, and the league poll agrees. Betts provides elite defense with what should be above league average offense. His power isn’t quite there yet, but it should develop as he matures more, but his hitting was perfectly league average at age 20 in AAA.