Prospect lists are a bit of a hip fad these days. I've determined this based on the roughly 50 lists that I found purporting to rank the sport's best young players. I've also recognized that those 50 lists only sort the prospects in one way- by organization- when fans are often quite concerned with comparing prospects across different organizations. Why make a 51st list that sorts players in a similar manner? Here at MLBDD, we'll be rolling out prospect lists by position, rather than by organization, because we want the 51st prospect list that you read this month to be a little bit different.
MLB Daily Dish's Top 15 Catching Prospects For The 2012 Season
1. Jesus Montero, Seattle Mariners
Montero is a catcher until he isn't, and there's one thing we know about him: he'll crush baseballs as if they mocked him as a child. The Mariners seem set on giving Montero a shot to play nearly full-time behind the plate, and he's got unreal upside if he can stick at the position.
2. Travis d'Arnaud, Toronto Blue Jays
He still needs a bit more development, but he's got potential to be an elite catcher given his combination of offensive and defensive skills. The power is legitimately plus, and he projects as a plus defender behind the plate given his improving technique.
3. Devin Mesoraco, Cincinnati Reds
He's closer to the majors than d'Arnaud and has similar offensive potential, but Mesoraco doesn't project to be the same kind of defender. He's improved a good deal over the past few years, but he still doesn't really take advantage of a good arm because of poor release times. The power is plus and the approach is solid, he could hit in the majors in 2012 if he gets a chance.
4. Gary Sanchez, New York Yankees
This is a special young hitter, but he's following the Montero development plan as he struggles to adjust to playing behind the plate. The bat is something else, though, with present power that should be plus to plus-plus within a few years, and he displayed solid plate discipline as an 18-year-old in full-season ball. There's a lot of projection here, but the glove needs to improve a lot.
5. Yasmani Grandal, San Diego Padres
He's a switch-hitter, but there's concern that he'll flash major platoon splits given that scouts don't particularly like his swing from the right side. Evaluations on Grandal's defense were also somewhat disappointing in 2011 after he established an extremely positive reputation behind the plate at the University of Miami. There's concern that his defensive potential was overstated coming into the draft.
6. Derek Norris, Oakland Athletics
Lots of people will be fixated on the bad batting averages, but scouts like everything else about Norris. He's got above-average power and a strong arm, he receives well behind the plate and has a strong approach at the plate. Obviously one has to be worried after two straight years of struggling to hit for average, but he's got big potential if that comes together.
7. Austin Hedges, San Diego Padres
He hasn't played in full-season ball yet after being drafted by San Diego in the second round of the 2011 draft, but scouts absolutely love his defensive potential. Already considered one of the best defensive catchers in the minors, he's also made improvements in his swing mechanics that have led scouts to become more bullish on his offensive upside.
8. Wilin Rosario, Colorado Rockies
Everyone loves the power and arm strength, but it's impossible to simply ignore the issues with getting on base. If he ever figures things out, the potential is absolutely huge, but I'm worried that he's just a back-up eventually because of his inability to challenge pitchers and get on base.
9. Christian Bethancourt, Atlanta Braves
Scouts absolutely love Bethancourt's defensive skills, which explains the bullish attitudes after a year during which he hit .289/.304/.385. He's got big-time arm strength and good receiving skills, so it's easy to project him as a plus to plus-plus defender behind the plate going forward. You never know if he'll hit, but he's flashed plus power, and he doesn't need to do much given the expectations at that position.
10. Ryan Lavarnway, Boston Red Sox
Most scouts still don't believe that Lavarnway can play full-time behind the plate, but he keeps trying and he keeps winning scouts over. The bat will carry his value regardless of where he plays, but he has All Star potential if he can stick behind the plate given the offensive talent.
11. Blake Swihart, Boston Red Sox
He's raw, but the tools are there and scouts love the upside. He needs significant work both as a hitter and as a defender behind the plate, but he's got significant bat speed and a strong arm. Generally speaking, an athletic young player with those tools is an obvious prospect at the position. He may ultimately change positions, but it's not a necessary move at this point.
12. Jorge Alfaro, Texas Rangers
Alfaro is a pretty standard young catching prospect with a strong throwing arm and projectable power potential, but he's also pretty far away. The tools are impressive and his athleticism is obvious, but he's not simply rough on the edges and will need a few years to reach his potential.
13. Sebastian Valle, Philadelphia Phillies
Like others on this list, Valle is extremely raw but constantly flashes huge potential. The 21-year-old has good bat speed and projects to have solid power, but he'll never be able to tap into that if his approach doesn't improve. Behind the plate, scouts love his potential given his athleticism and arm strength.
14. J.T. Realmuto, Miami Marlins
He's fairly raw after being converted to the position by the Marlins after they took him in the third round of the 2010 draft, but scouts have been impressed by his progress. He has the tools to stick behind the plate and solid doubles power, and he hit .284/.345/.451 in 381 PA's with Single-A Greensboro in his full-season debut.
15. Tommy Joseph, San Francisco Giants
Scouts are increasingly becoming bullish on Joseph, as he continues to flash plus power and give hope that he'll be able to stick behind the plate. Some still believe that he may be destined for a position change, but guys with his offensive potential that can stick behind the plate are extremely intriguing.
OTHERS: Austin Romine, New York; Andrew Susac, San Francisco; Welington Castillo, Chicago; J.R. Murphy, New York; Hector Sanchez, San Francisco; A.J. Jimenez, Toronto; Max Stassi, Oakland; Will Swanner, Colorado; James McCann, Detroit (Don't get mad at me if I forgot someone)