Top Baseball Prospects for 2014
Now updated for 2014's Top Prospects
Scouting Book's Top Prospects list is a Combined List, a calculated summary of the overall valuations of the entire prospect universe.
Remember: this page is the result of an automatic process that re-sorts and re-ranks players often.
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this blog entry before telling us. Then tell us. The Best Catching Prospects for 2014
Overall SB ranking shown in parentheses.
The number one catching prospect in the system until Yasmani Grandal came to town, Austin Hedges is still a top prospect with a very high ceiling. Not quite as ready for the majors as Grandal was, Hedges is still barely out of high school. But he's valid: long-seen as a strong-armed defensive catcher, he slashed an unexpectedly-solid .260/.333/.390 in 86 games split between high and double-A in 2013, propelling him into the 'complete catcher' category. He's not quite ready, especially in the game-calling department, but he's not very far off, either. Expect him to get a look-see in 2014, with 2015 as his more likely ETA.
More Scouting Book Info on Austin Hedges
SB 31 BA 27 SC 23 BP 18 SN ES 33 ML 24
The best left-handed power bat available in the 2014 draft, Cubs prospect Kyle Schwarber is one of the newest proto-stars in a dizzyingly-deep farm system that's starting to blossom in Chicago. Schwarber's bat led Indian to its first Big Ten Championship since 1932 (sic). Schwarber's very good bat speed generates lightning-bolt power, while his batting eye seems strong enough to keep his game from decaying into a single dimension. Behind the plate, he shows a strong if sometimes-erratic arm and a good head for the game, but there are enough questions about his receiving and framing skills that a move to an outfield corner is something many scouts are discussing. The Cubs should give him a chance behind the plate first, though. If he can stick there, his bat could propel him to All Star status.
More Scouting Book Info on Kyle Schwarber
SB 46 BA SC BP SN ES ML
He might sound like a designer of cheap neckties, but prospective Ranger catcher Jorge Alfaro has been making a name for himself in the damp northwest rather than the fashion outlets in airport shopping malls. A big strong right-handed bat, the still-teenaged Alfaro looks likely to stick behind the plate, where he exhibits a cannon arm of increasing accuracy. His game-calling skills are a long way off, but if that .320/.430/.750 Sally League line from 2012 is a real indicator of his potential, the Rangers will be content to wait it out.
More Scouting Book Info on Jorge Alfaro
SB 59 BA 54 SC 27 BP 41 SN ES 44 ML 39
A switch-hitting catcher of the type the Red Sox have kept on trying to develop for the last decade, Cleveland native Blake Swihart has the tools necessary to succeed in the big leagues, assuming his game-calling head can develop as expected. Already blessed with solid contact ability from either side of the plate, (.448/.492/.845 for Team USA two years ago) he's also showing a strong and accurate throwing arm already. If he has to move away from the plate, he could be a competent third baseman, since he doesn't really have the legs for the outfield, but if that happened he would drop a great deal in value, since there are many other young third basemen with similar offensive pop.
More Scouting Book Info on Blake Swihart
SB 63 BA 73 SC BP 73 SN ES 56 ML 61
Signed as a sixteen year old out of Panama back in 2008, catcher Christian Bethencourt is a toolsy ballplayer dripping with all-around talent. Competing with far-older players in 2009, the 17-year old showed flashes of power and above-average speed to complement his advanced bat control skills. In 2012, he slashed .243/.275/.291 at AA Mississippi while working primarily on his defense.
Since he's a catcher with the entire universe of game calling and defense to master, he's still a couple of years away, but he's such a shining star that he's a near-lock to rise through the prospect ranks every year before taking over in Atlanta. He's just that talented. If he settles in and looks strong in AA this year, he'll be starting in Atlanta next.
More Scouting Book Info on Christian Bethancourt
SB 66 BA 69 SC 78 BP 87 SN ES 90 ML 82
Gary Sanchez is a very young but promising backstop from Austin, Texas with a tantalizing upside that should not be ignored. He's a big boy who could further grow into a Joe Mauer shape, and his bat comes from the same forest as the Minnesota superstar, if not quite the same tree. Unless he becomes part of a package used to upgrade Yankee pitching, he should be one of their top prospects for several more years to come.
More Scouting Book Info on Gary Sanchez
SB 74 BA 35 SC 35 BP 85 SN ES 68 ML 47
Travis D'Arnaud is one of the very top catching prospects in baseball today. Not to be confused with infielder Chase, Travis is an offensively gifted catcher who's ready for major league ball, at least from an offensive perspective. A major prize in the sell-high trade of RA Dickey in December 2012, d'Arnaud also has above-average speed for a catcher to go along with a great eye for the strike zone. While his game-calling and defense aren't quite ready for prime time (yet), he'll be pushed along quickly. He should be hitting high in a feisty, developing Mets batting order in 2014, and for years to come.
More Scouting Book Info on Travis d'Arnaud
SB 75 BA 38 SC 25 BP 48 SN ES 36 ML 22
A solidly-built catcher/third-base prospect from Kent, Washington, Reese McGuire doesn't quite deserve the Bryce Harper comparisons he sometimes inspires, but he's not all that far off, either. An offensive monster at a young age, he should enjoy the benefits of further physical development over the next couple of years, which means those towering homers will get even more awe-inspiring. Best of all, he gets that power from a short, quick stroke that doesn't look like any kind of all-or-nothing swing. Behind the plate, he looks very very good, definitely good enough to stick at catcher if his body plays along. He's very young and very raw, but there are few players from the 2013 draft class with a higher ceiling.
More Scouting Book Info on Reese McGuire
SB 99 BA 81 SC BP 59 SN ES ML
A college catcher with a short, powerful stroke at the plate, Mets prospect Kevin Plawecki is a throwback tough-guy catcher whose game is already quite advanced. Given a year or three to absorb the finer points of game-calling, he could blossom into a regular on a rebuilt Mets club of the near future.
More Scouting Book Info on Kevin Plawecki
SB 105 BA SC BP SN ES ML
An offense-minded catcher from Puerto Rico who percolated his way up the Red Sox system to AA Portland in 2013, Christian Vazquez is one of a handful of promising backstops on the Boston farm. His slash line in a full year with the Sea Dogs was an impressive .289/.376/.395, and while that might look a little light on power, his young frame still has some filling-in ahead.
More Scouting Book Info on Christian Vazquez
SB 176 BA SC BP SN ES ML
A high-school catcher blessed with a B-movie monicker, Stryker Trahan was drafted by the Diamondbacks at the tail end of 2012's first round. While the final call is more than half a decade away, the early returns suggest that the tallish Trahan may be able to stick at catcher, as he possesses more than the usual strong arm requirement. If he shows aptitude for game-calling, he'll move quickly, but 'quickly' in this context still means 2016 or so.
More Scouting Book Info on Stryker Trahan
SB 184 BA SC BP SN ES ML
There's a pun somewhere about a player named Pentecost being a five-tool prospect, but we're not quite sure how to put it into words. What we can say is that Kennesaw State graduate Max Pentecost could be one of the most athletic catchers in the Majors if he stays at the position long enough to reach MLB. A strong-armed, strong-willed ballplayer with 'plus-for-a-catcher' speed, Pentecost shows an advanced ability to hit for both average and power, as his MVP award from the (wooden-bat) Cape Cod League demonstrates. By the end of the summer, Pentecost had racked up a .962 OPS by spraying balls all over the field, mainly on the back of a .346 average. He'll need to spend the usual extra time in the minors, but he's a special enough prospect, especially as a catcher, that he's worth keeping a close eye on.
More Scouting Book Info on Max Pentecost
SB 247 BA SC BP SN ES ML
A big, solid catching prospect from Charleston, SC who's committed to South Carolina but probably signable, Nick Ciuffo is regarded as a perfect proto-catcher, both strong and athletic. He's a better than expected runner and shows good all-around tools, including a very good pop time and a strong arm behind the plate. A left-handed bat, he pleases scouts with a basic, line-drive approach with very good bat speed. If he develops as expected, he could be a future franchise catcher for Tampa Bay.
More Scouting Book Info on Nick Ciuffo
SB 254 BA SC BP SN ES 95 ML
A converted shortstop with a cannon arm and a terrific pop time, catcher Jake (JT) Realmuto was another part of Greensboro's A-level championship title in 2010. Untapped power and good speed (for a catcher) combine with a quickly-developing eye that should propel him to the majors one day. Realmuto is Miami's top catching prospect today, though he's still a year or two away from big-league baseball.
More Scouting Book Info on JT Realmuto
SB 260 BA SC BP SN ES ML
A switch-hitting catcher from Indianapolis, Tucker Barnhart is an all-around ballplayer with great raw tools and more than a small idea how to apply them to the game of baseball. Drafted out of high school by the Reds back in 2009, Barnhart has shown a quality batting eye and good patience at each level of play, slashing .278/.371/.409 last season at high-A Bakersfield and earning a promotion to AA at the end of the year. He's got a little pop, but with less than a dozen homers in three hundred pro games, he won't be winning any home run derbies. Behind the plate, he's a quality receiver with what looks to be a preternatural gift for keeping pitchers in the zone. While Devin Mesoraco has the Reds catcher-of-the-future award in hand for now, Barnhart could be in the running in another couple of years.
More Scouting Book Info on Tucker Barnhart
SB 297 BA SC 94 BP SN ES ML
A howitzer-armed high school catcher from Oklahoma, Jonathan Denney promises both offense and defense from the backstop position. Denney has the makings of real plus power coupled with great pitch recognition. A smart player, he has soft hands and great reflexes behind the plate, and seems capable of handling a pitching staff someday, too. That means he should stay at catcher, where he has the most value. Drafted in the third round of 2013's draft by the Red Sox, he's in the right system for the kind of player he seems to be.
More Scouting Book Info on Jonathan Denney
SB 302 BA SC 86 BP SN ES ML
One of the best viable catching prospects in the 2014 draft, Michigan native Blake Anderson was snapped up a lot earlier than expected by the value-hunting Marlins in the first compensation round. Not surprisingly, he also signed with a below-slot bonus more in line with a third or fourth rounder. A big, strong catcher with a cannon arm and better-than-expected mobility for a man his size, his defense doesn't seem to be in question. As a big-framed strong young man, too, he projects to hit for good power in the future. What questions do linger in conversations about Anderson, though, all revolve around whether or not he'll hit for a high enough average to be a of everyday value to an MLB lineup one day.
More Scouting Book Info on Blake Anderson
SB 310 BA SC BP SN ES ML
One of the very best college catchers of 2014, Giant prospect Aramis Garcia draws rave reviews for not just his ability, but his baseball intelligence. A lean, powerful line-drive hitter, he's expected to grow more into a slugger as he fills out. Behind the plate, he looks solid: a good defender with excellent maneuverability and blocking skills, his arm is better than average. What we're really looking forward to, though, is how he learns and handles the art of game-calling: Garcia is the kind of catcher who will be a student of both pregame strategy and in-game tactics, and he's likely to outsmart a lot of hitters throughout his career.
More Scouting Book Info on Aramis Garcia
SB 319 BA SC BP SN ES ML
Sometime in the last decade or so, the Braves got very very good at identifying catchers. Victor Caratini, a product of the PR Baseball Academy, is another in the fast-growing line of top-notch backstops coming through Atlanta's system. A reliable defensive target, he's received a great deal of praise for his framing and blocking ability, and his arm, while not a full-bore cannon, is better than many MLB catchers already. At the plate, he's a viable switch-hitter, a disciplined and well-rounded talent who projects as a 10-20 home run guy in the future. (He hit .377 with six home runs and a .549 slugging percentage in 175 ABs with Miami Dade.) Should the Braves catcher pipeline get jammed up, as it may very well, Caratini is also a capable third baseman.
More Scouting Book Info on Victor Caratini
SB 334 BA SC BP SN ES ML
The most-likely catcher of the future in Philadelphia, Mexican prospect Sebastian Valle is a young offensive dynamo with plus bat control and a powerful swing that should play at any level. Already holding his own against much older competitors, Valle is due to hit AA sometime in 2012. Give him another year or two to master the intricacies of handling a top-flight pitching staff, and he should be a fixture in Philly soon enough.
More Scouting Book Info on Sebastian Valle
SB 373 BA SC BP SN ES ML
Top Prospects 2013