Top Catcher Prospects 2016

The list of the top catcher prospects for 2016 is loaded with talent and showcase some of the best prospects in all of baseball.

Top Catcher Prospects 2016

1

Willson Contreras

Position: C Age: 23 DOB: 05/13/1992 Bats: R Throws: R Height: 6' 1" Weight: 175 lb. Signed: Dec. 7, 2009 - CHC

Scouting Grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 50 | Run: 45 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 55

Willson Contreras is the top catching prospects for the 2016 season

www.getmoresports.com

It's hard to not somewhat talk about him and Kyle Schwarber at the same time as the two Cubs started last season as teammates in Tennessee at Double-A splitting time behind the plate before Schwarber would eventually find his way to be an impact bat during the Cubs postseason run while Contreras was establishing himself as one of the best catching prospects in baseball with a breakout 2015 season swinging the bat.

With the Cubs since he was 17 he has slowly worked his way through the organization with a career .689 OPS before last season which saw him win the batting title in the Southern League as he hit .333 with a .413 on base percentage. For the year he finished with a league-high 46 extra-base hits as he showed his power with eight home runs and 75 runs batted in while showing his improved plate discipline by walking 57 times.

Signed out of Venezuela for $850,000 back in 2009 as a third baseman he eventually moved behind the plate in 2012 where his quickness and athleticism compared to other catchers has stood out. Showing off his arm that allowed him to play third base he threw out 28 percent of attempted base stealers last season and has continued to make progress with his pitch framing. While Schwarber has said he would like to catch but has found a home in the outfield in the majors it's expected that Contreras will stick behind the plate and start the season in AAA-Iowa where you would expect him to play the entire season barring a major need to call him up as he has not been promoted during a season yet in his career.

2

Gary Sanchez

Position: C Age: 23 DOB: 12/02/1992 Bats: R Throws: R Height: 6' 2" Weight: 225 lb. Signed: July 2, 2009 - NYY

Scouting Grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 60 | Run: 30 | Arm: 65 | Field: 45 | Overall: 55

Gary Sanchez ranks as the second best catching prospect in 2016

yankeesnews26.com

His minor league and prospect career has been like a roller coaster as he was one of the top catching prospects in baseball five years ago while with the Yankees before being traded to the Mariners and looking like he was going to be a bust, with scouts questioning his defensive abilities behind the plate and his work ethic and maturity off the field, before once again finding his form and getting back on the uphill path to being a top catching prospect once again.

Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2009 by the Yankees for a $3 million signing bonus his great raw power and strong arm were back on display during the Arizona Fall League as he hit seven home runs and threw out 62 percent of would be base stealers to put the final touches on a 2015 season that saw him also make his Major League debut in September.

His combination of bat speed, power and loft in his swing from the right side of the plate allows him to drive the ball a long ways but he can work on his plate discipline as he can get overly agressive which hurts his ability to hit for a high average. If he can continue to show improvements in his ability to not chase bad pitches while also getting more polished with his receiving and blocking to keep him at the catcher position he has the potential to be an All-Star.

3

Reese McGuire

Position: C Age: 20 DOB: 03/02/1995 Bats: L Throws: R Height: 6' 0" Weight: 185 lb. Drafted: 2013, 1st (14) - PIT

Scouting Grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 45 | Run: 45 | Arm: 60 | Field: 60 | Overall: 55

Reese McGuire rankes as the third best catching prospect in the minors for 2016

www.piratesprospects.com

Unlike some of the other catchers ranked above him that have question marks defensively he has established himself as one of the best defensive catching prospects in the Minor Leagues as it's just a matter of how well he can hit at the higher levels that will determine how soon he gets the call and his role in the Major Leagues.

Taken out of high school by the Pirates in the first round of the 2013 Draft his defense alone might get him playing time in Pittsburgh as he has above average hands and his ability to frame pitches and his feel for calling the game has earned raves from many. Among the positives said about him includes he has a terrific arm and has grown into a leadership role that works well with his pitchers.

Turning 21 on March 2nd he has spent the last two seasons at the A level as last season he hit .254 with 34 runs batted in the Florida State League before going to the Arizona Fall League where reports had him making more consistent hard contact and hitting the ball to all parts of the field which they will hope continues when he likely starts this season in AA in what will be a big season for his status as a big time catching prospect.

4

Jorge Alfaro

Position: C Age: 22 DOB: 06/11/1993 Bats: R Throws: R Height: 6' 2" Weight: 225 lb. Signed: Jan. 19, 2010 - TEX

Scouting Grades: Hit: 40 | Power: 60 | Run: 40 | Arm: 70 | Field: 50 | Overall: 55

Jorge Alfaro ranks as the fourth best catching prospect in the Minors for 2016

sonsofpenn.com

Setting a record for a player signed out of Columbia he received a $1.3 million bonus from the Rangers as a 16-year old thanks to his two plus tools, a powerful bat and powerful arm, but he was sidelined for most of the 2015 season with an ankle injury while also being sent to the Phillies in July in the big Cole Hamels trade at the trade deadline. After the trade was made he was considered by some to be the Phillies new top power hitting prospect in their organization.

Like many other young hitters with lots of raw power and strength his plate discipline is something he needs to work on as his approach and judgement on the strike-zone is still a work in progress with him chasing to many bad pitches as pitchers try to avoid contact and get him to chase bad pitches. Because of his strong arm and athleticism he has a chance to stick elsewhere should his abilities defensively behind the plate don't improve and he needs to change positions as he has played some first base in games and also done some work in the outfield.

Looking to remain healthy to develop and improve at a quicker pace the Phillies should finally get a good look at their catching prospect this season as he will hope to play more than 90 games in a season for the first time. Playing last season in AA before getting hurt in June a likely timetable for his Major League debut would be in 2017 but a potential late season call up this year shouldn't be ruled out of the cards.

5

Tyler Stephenson

Position: C Age: 19 DOB: 08/16/1996 Bats: R Throws: R Height: 6' 4" Weight: 225 lb. Drafted: 2015, 1st (11) - CIN

Scouting Grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 50 | Run: 40 | Arm: 60 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50

Tyler Stephenson ranks as the fifth best catcher in the minors for 2016.

www.milb.com

From Georgia he was selected with the 11th overall pick in the first round of the 2015 draft as he was the fourth high schooler selected and the first catcher picked the Reds will hope to have a Stephenson to Stephenson connection on the mound and behind the plate sometime in the future as 2011 first round selection pitcher Robert Stephenson was placed on the 40-man roster and could make his major league debut this year after playing in AAA-Louisville last year.

It won't be a quick path to the Majors for this 19 year old who after signing was sent to play in the Pioneer League where in 54 games last season he hit a more than respectable .268 with 16 runs batted in. During his debut the 6'4" 225 pound right-hander showed an ability to use all sides of the field and showed the advanced approach at the plate that had him the top catcher drafted.

With really no glaring weaknesses in his game the Reds are going to hope he just continues to improve in every aspect of the game while working with him to quicken his release and speed up his footwork as he already has a strong arm and a good feel for calling games behind the plate. As he continues to mature and add more strength the hope is he will at worst be at the Major League average with hitting for average and power while above average defensively with the potential for much better than average in all aspects of the game.

6

Elias Diaz

Position: C Age: 25 DOB: 11/17/1990 Bats: R Throws: R Height: 6' 0" Weight: 210 lb. Signed: Nov. 7, 2008 - PIT

Scouting Grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 40 | Run: 40 | Arm: 65 | Field: 55 | Overall: 50

Elias Diaz ranks as the sixth best catcher in all of the minors for 2016

www.post-gazette.com

From thoughts of him to being an everyday catcher to thoughts of trying to transition him to the mound he is back to the original thoughts of a potential future starter behind the plate in Pittsburgh with tons of teams trying to make a trade for this Venezuelian who originally signed back in 2008 before making his major league debut last season playing in two games after hitting .271 in his first full season in AAA.

From 2010-2012 he didn't hit above .221 at the A level which had the Pirates wondering if despite his plus defensive skills and plus arm behind the plate he would need to move to the mound for a lack of being able to hit before he turned it around in 2013 hitting .279 and .328 the next year in AA to regain his status as a potential starter at the Major League level.

His hitting started to turn around and improve as the Pirates worked on him slowing himself down as he now tries to make consistent hard contact and not try to swing to hard or do too much as he still will get some extra-base hits. His great hands and receiving ability with a plus arm, which they have worked with him on quickening his release and not trying to do to much, has him set to be a valuable backup in Pittsburgh and should his bat continue to improve that starting role may become his sooner rather than later.

7

Dom Nunez

Position: C Age: 21 DOB: 1/17/1995 Bats: L Throws: L Height: 6' 0" Weight: 175 lb. Drafted: 2013, 6th (169) - COL

Scouting Grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 45 | Run: 45 | Arm: 50 | Field: 55 | Overall: 50

Dom Nunez rankes as the seventh best catching prospects in the minors for 2016

www.milb.com

Someone we actually saw a ton play back in high school at Elk Grove in 2013 he showed off his strong arm while playing catcher and shortstop and it was at the catcher position that saw him named to the All-State second team before being drafted by the Rockies in the sixth round and signing for $800,000.

Struggling during his first season while playing the middle infield he made the switch back behind the plate in 2014 and along with the change back to being a full-time catcher his bat started to find solid contact with the baseball as he hit .313 with 40 runs batted in during 46 games to move up into the Top 10 of Rockies prospects by Baseball Prospectus. Compared by one club official to Carlos Gonzalez he controls the strike zone while trying to hit the ball to the center of the field with enough power to pull the ball.

It was a tale of two halves of the season for him last year in A-South Atlantic League as he hit just .216 with only six extra base hits during his first 187 plate appearances before catching fire in the second half to finish the season hitting .282 with 13 home runs and 53 runs batted in.

While he originally was set to play infield it's no surprise that behind the plate looks to be his home as he is an advanced defender that moves well and has a strong arm with the only knock on him being his accuracy throwing the baseball needing to be improved. As he continues to face older competition and excel it's hard to not expect him to be playing in Colorado perhaps as soon as 2018 with him likely to start this season back in Northern California with the Modesto Nuts in the A-California League.

8

Jacob Nottingham

Position: C/1B Age: 20 DOB: 4/3/1995 Bats: R Throws: R Height: 6' 3" Weight: 230 lb. Drafted: 2013, 6th (167) - HOU

Scouting Grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 55 | Run: 40 | Arm: 50 | Field: 40 | Overall: 50

Jacob Nottingham ranks as the eighth best catching prospect in the minors for 2016

www.scout.com

With an opportunity to go to Arizona and play tight end he passed on his chance to play college football when drafted out of high school in 2013 as he signed with the Astros for $300,000 after being drafted in the sixth round. Struggling at the plate in rookie ball in 2013 and 2014 he finally had it come together during a 2015 season that saw him play for three different teams at the Class A level while also being traded to the Oakland Athletics in the Scott Kazmir trade.

For the year he hit .316 with 17 home runs and 82 runs batted in and was voted by the fans as the Breakout Prospect MiLBY Award winner. Recently traded for the second time in six and a half months he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in February and their general manager David Stearns called him "one of the premier catching prospects in baseball" but some have doubts that he can stay behind the plate in the upper levels as he also saw time at first base last season.

While he has been on the record that he wants to stay as a catcher he will need to work on his defensive game, primarily his catch receiving and blocking, while some are also questioning his arm strength and his ability to throw out base runners. One thing he can do with no questions is hit the ball with power to all parts of the field as he can keep his barrel in the zone long enough to go to the opposite field and his raw power allows it to get out of the ballpark. With the Brewers lacking a big time catching prospect before acquiring him he should have all the chances in the world to prove he can stick behind the plate as he should start this season in AA but it wouldn't be a surprise if he has a good half of the season to see the Brewers move him up to AAA late in the year despite only just turning 21 when the season gets underway.

9

Max Pentacost

Position: C Age: 22 DOB: 3/10/1995 Bats: R Throws: R Height: 6' 2" Weight: 192 lb. Drafted: 2014, 1st (11) - TOR

Scouting Grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 45 | Run: 40 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50

Max Pentecost ranks as the ninth best catching prospect in the minors for 2016.

jaysjournal.com

More of a mystery than most on this list he has had an injured plagued career since being drafted with the No. 11 overall pick by the Toronto Blue Jays back in 2014. Having a year to remember in 2013 he was named the MVP of the Cape Cod League and was second in the nation in hitting while leading Kennesaw State to a NCAA regional title.

Limited to just 25 games in 2014 he had surgery to repair a partially torn right tendun to cost him the rest of his rookie season and it got even worse last season as he had to get arthroscopic surgery in February to clean up the same shoulder and it cost him his entire 2015 season. Those injuries are the biggest concern and question mark on his abilities as before the injuries he had some raw power but was more known for his short compact swing to spray line drives across the entire field and while that shouldn't be affected by his surgery how much power he will have remains in doubt. Behind the plate his ceiling may not be as high as some of the others but his floor is a high one due to his tools and his contact ability at the plate.

10

Aramis Garcia

Position: C Age: 23 DOB: 1/12/1993 Bats: R Throws: R Height: 6' 2" Weight: 220 lb. Drafted: 2014, 2nd (52) - SF

Scouting Grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 50 | Run: 40 | Arm: 50 | Field: 40 | Overall: 50

Aramis Garcia lands at #10 on the top catching prospect for the 2016 season

m.mlb.com

San Francisco Giants have had lots of success lately in drafting catchers with players such as Buster Posey and Andrew Susac having them seemingly set at the position for many years to come but they are hoping he is one for the future as they signed him for $1.1 million after selecting him in the second round of the 2014 draft. While at Florida International his disciplined and powerful bat saw him earn Conference USA Player of the Year honors as he hit .368 with eight home runs and 37 runs batted in.

His college success didn't quickly translate into pro success as he struggled offensively and defensively in 2014 as he hit a combined .225 in rookie ball and short season A ball before turning it around in 2015 in Class A at the Southern Atlantic League. Showing more of an aggressive approach at the plate compared to when he was in college it has him hitting for more power but at the expense of his average as he hit for a .273 average with 15 home runs and 61 runs batted in before being promoted to High-A and struggling a bit with the San Jose Giants to end the year which shows he still has some work to do and should start there this season. With a compact swing from the right side of the plate he has also shown a tendency to turn on balls more often as his pro career has progressed.

Defensively is the bigger question mark as while he has an average and accurate arm and a good release to throw out base stealers his receiving and blocking needs some work which he should get plenty of time to work on with the Giants not hurting for catching at the Major League level. In 116 career games in the minors he has 28 passed balls but those numbers have improved some as he had just 14 passed balls in 62 games with Augusta before a disastrous debut in San Jose that saw seven passed balls in 18 games. If his defensive abilities behind the plate don't improve a move to first base or as a DH would certainly be possible because of his powerful bat.