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 29 BA 27 SC 37 BP 18 SN ES 33 ML 24
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 47 BA 35 SC 83 BP 85 SN ES 68 ML 47
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 54 BA 54 SC 68 BP 41 SN ES 44 ML 39
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 57 BA 69 SC 66 BP 87 SN ES 90 ML 82
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 60 BA 38 SC 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 72 BA 81 SC 50 BP 59 SN ES ML
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 73 BA 73 SC 84 BP 73 SN ES 56 ML 61
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 143 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 185 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 207 BA SC BP SN ES 95 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 211 BA SC BP SN ES 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 215 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 250 BA SC 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 254 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 277 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 309 BA SC BP SN ES ML
Another solid all-around young catching prospect from a draft class full of them, Ypsiliati native Coulter has the makings of real plus power and good bat control. Behind the plate, he's shown a strong arm and good reflexes, which means he might remain there, too.
More Scouting Book Info on Clint Coulter
SB 311 BA SC BP SN ES ML
A combination catcher/third base prospect in the Yankees system, JR Murphy jumped from A ball (.257/.322/.374 at Tampa) to AA (.231/.306/.408 at Trenton), and continues to develop in a slow-but-sure fashion on the farm. He has no real speed (no surprise there) but does show a plus batting eye, great patience, and a short, powerful swing from the right side.
His power is still developing, but it seems very likely to arrive in time. There are divergent opinions on his game-calling and catcher's defense potential, but he's got time to learn that, and he was signed for his bat, anyway. Even if he's only a third baseman in the future, he should have what's necessary to be New York's own Brandon Inge in another year or two. He's on track to spend all of 2013 in AA ball, with a mid-to-late 2014 callup the most sensible timeline.
More Scouting Book Info on JR Murphy
SB 312 BA SC BP SN ES ML
One of Colorado's top catching prospects, 2012 third rounder Tom Murphy slashed .288/.349/.462 in 212 at-bats with the low-A Tri-City Dust Devils in 2012. Reminding some scouts of JP Arencebia, Murphy makes strong and solid contact from gap to gap, with a level swing and developing power that should help him reach the cheap seats more as he fills out. He's not a base-clogger, with good speed and good baserunning smarts for a catcher. Murphy is a standout defensive backstop with an above average arm (he shot down 42% of base stealers last season.) He'll take a couple of years to sharpen his game-calling and hopefully keep his strikeout totals from climbing as he gets stronger, but other than that he looks like a pretty sweet catcher of the future to us.
More Scouting Book Info on Tom Murphy
SB 341 BA SC BP SN ES ML
A high-school catcher with a tantalizing power bat (15 homers in 27 games in his senior year), the double-named Tommy Joseph was scooped up by the Giants in 2009. In addition to his terrific raw power, Joseph displays a very strong throwing arm and shows signs of excellent leadership and discipline on the field. With the catcher's position in San Francisco locked up for the foreseeable future, the Giants found it easy (?) to part with Joseph at 2012's trade deadline, giving the Phillies a very obvious catcher of the future.
ToJo can also play a reasonable first base, and is athletic enough to learn third if necessary. He's still a bit away away from the big leagues, but he shows every sign of being well-equipped to get there in the near future. We expect to see him get everyday at-bats in 2015, with spot-duty possible before that.
More Scouting Book Info on Tommy Joseph
SB 361 BA SC BP SN ES ML
Top Prospects 2013