Catching Prospects In The Pool: Setting The Odds Of Making An Impact In 2020: Three Key Names & More

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There are going to be non-roster invitees in camp for teams with a chance to make their respective teams, and that may be more true with catchers this season.  That said there are also some intriguing catching prospects included in team’s 60-man Player Pool, so the question is what are the chances they make an impact in 2020?  Let’s take a look:

(Note: There are a few teams who have yet to release their Play Pool, so we will update this post when they do)

Ronaldo Hernandez (TB, C)

Hernandez is already one of three catchers on the 40-man roster so it’s obvious that he is going to make his MLB debut this season.  The fact that he’s among the better catching prospects (we ranked him 8th) in the game and only has Mike Zunino ahead of him on the depth chart adds to the appeal.  Of course that doesn’t mean he’s a lock to produce, as we said at the time:

Playing the year at High-A Hernandez hit .265 with 9 HR and 7 SB over 427 PA.  While the strikeout rate was a solid 15.0%, there are going to be questions about his aggressiveness considering his 11.0% SwStr% and 4.0% walk rate.  That’s something that more advanced pitchers will be able to take advantage of, barring an adjustment, and that’s what we’ll have to watch closely as he advances in 2020.  He does have power and should stick behind the plate, so it could take him a little bit longer to develop offensively.

2020 Debut Odds – 2/1

Tyler Stephenson (CIN)

Stephenson is in the same situation as Hernandez, as he’s already on the 40-man roster and is a near lock to debut for the Reds this season.  That was assumed even before the start of the season was delayed, with Tucker Barnhart and Curt Casali set to open the year in the Majors.

Considered one of the top catching prospects in the game (we ranked him 6th in the preseason), Stephenson significantly improved his approach while playing at Double-A in ’19.  As we noted prior to the season:

Stephenson spent the year at Double-A (363 PA), taking a significant step forward in his approach (despite the move from High-A the year before):

  • Strikeout Rate – 21.8% to 16.5%
  • Walk Rate – 10.0% to 10.2%
  • SwStr% – 9.9% to 8.2%

While he only hit 6 HR last season, he added 19 doubles and 1 triple and the expectation is that he’ll mature into more power.

2020 Debut Odds – 2/1

Cal Raleigh (SEA)

A 2018 third round pick, Raleigh is an intriguing name to watch for ’20.  A “C+” prospect, he’s reached Double-A and brings both intrigue and questions, as we described prior to the season:

Raleigh split time between High-A (310 AB) and Double-A (145 AB), hitting .251 with 29 HR and 82 RBI.  There are going to be questions about his ability to make consistent contact (14.2% SwStr% overall, which leaped to 16.2% at Double-A).  There’s no questioning the power, which he put on full display in ’19, but if he can’t make consistent contact will it matter?  That makes you think that he’ll be the “prototypical” catcher, who hits for power and a poor average, though one that could play in the Majors.

Tom Murphy and Austin Nola are the only two catchers on the 40-man roster, and neither are a given to thrive in the Majors.  The other catchers in the Player Pool, Joe Hudson and Brian O’Keefe, are also questionable options.  That leaves Raleigh, and even though he could struggle with strikeouts the power makes him a highly intriguing option.

2020 Debut Odds – 15/1

Luis Campusano (SD)

Campusano was impressive at High-A last season, hitting .325 with 15 HR over 487 PA.  That earned him the #5 spot on our Top Catching Prospects prior to the season, but he hasn’t played above High-A and faces a depth chart that features Francisco Mejia, Austin Hedges and Luis Torrens on the 40-man roster.  It’s not impossible that the team pushes him if a need arises, especially given the bat, but it’ll be a long road to get there.

2020 Debut Odds – 150/1

Ivan Herrera (STL, C)

Teams are going to be looking for catching depth, but would the Cardinals really rush Herrera?  Considering they already have Yadier Molina, Matt Wieters and Andrew Knizner on the 40-man roster it seems highly unlikely (though due to the position we can’t completely rule it out).

2020 Debut Odds – 150/1

Miguel Amaya (CHC)

The presence of Josh Phegley as a non-roster invite could hurt Amaya’s opportunity to make an impact in 2020, as he could fill the third catcher role behind Willson Contreras and Victor Caratini.  There also is Amaya’s struggles with the bat in 2019, which we can’t overlook.  When we ranked him as the 9th best catching prospect prior to the season we said:

Given the focus on defense it’s not uncommon for catching prospects to struggle offensively as they develop.  Amaya will turn 21-years old prior to the start of ’20, so he still has time to figure it out.  He hit just .235 with 11 HR over 410 PA last season playing at High-A, but he also showed a solid approach and more power potential:

  • SwStr% – 9.9%
  • Walk Rate – 13.2%
  • Extra Base Hits – 35 (24 doubles, 11 HR)

As he becomes comfortable with his catching duties and is able to focus on his offense, he should mature and develop.  He should hit at least .260 (with more possible) and continue to develop his power (20 HR annual is possible).  It’s going to take time, but he has the upside.

It makes sense that the team wants him to continue development, but he’s not likely to get an opportunity this season.

2020 Debut Odds – 200/1

Connor Wong (BOS)

Wong was acquired as part of the deal that sent Mookie Betts to Los Angeles, but he will need to overcome significant veteran depth in the Player Pool in order to reach the Majors this season.  We know Christian Vazquez is going to be the starter and Kevin Plawecki should be the backup.  With veterans Juan Centeno and Jett Bandy also in the Player Pool, Wong having just 163 PA above High-A and significant strikeout questions (30.7% at Double-A) the odds are long.  They aren’t impossible, but it’s pretty unlikely.

2020 Debut Odds – 200/1

Sam Huff (TEX)

Huff destroyed Single-A (15 HR over 114 PA), before hitting .262 with 13 HR over 405 PA at High-A.  There’s power, but there are clear strikeout concerns (28.9% strikeout rate at High-A) and there’s a stacked depth chart that makes it nearly impossible for Huff to debut (Robinson Chirinos, Jeff Mathis and Jose Trevino are already on the 40-man roster and Blake Swihart and others are also on the 60-man Player Pool).

2020 Debut Odds – 250/1

Alejandro Kirk (TOR)

One of our favorite catching prospects, the chances of him making the jump from High-A to the Majors is highly unlikely under normal circumstances.  Considering Toronto has a pair of young catchers already set to start, in Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire, as well as having Caleb Joseph in the Player Pool the chances for Kirk to debut are extremely low.  There’s no questioning Kirk’s ability to hit, but he’s young and developing.  It makes sense for the Blue Jays to continue developing him, but don’t expect an actual opportunity.

2020 Debut Odds – 250/1

Shea Langeliers (ATL)

A first round pick in 2019, he’s clearly on the roster for experience/development and not with an eye towards making an impact in 2020.

2020 Debut Odds – 250/1

Kyle McCann (OAK)

The A’s already have Sean Murphy set to assume the starting role and McCann only has 250 PA since being selected in the fourth round of the 2019 draft (225 PA at Low-A).  Don’t consider him an option to debut in ’20.

2020 Debut Odds – 250/1

MJ Melendez (KC)

The Royals face questions at Catcher, with Salvador Perez returning from Tommy John surgery.  Of course the extra few months should ensure that Perez is ready to roll on Opening Day and the team is carrying six catchers as part of their 60-man Player Pool.  Melendez is an intriguing prospect, but he also owned a 39.4% strikeout rate over 419 PA at High-A last season.  Considering that it makes sense for the team to look to continue developing him, but it’s unlikely that he gets an opportunity.

2020 Debut Odds – 250/1

Bo Naylor (CLE)

He’s well behind Beau Taylor in terms of sliding into the third catchers role (Roberto Perez and Sandy Leon are going to share the workload), considering Naylor is 20-years old and spent 2019 at Single-A.  This is all about not losing development time and not about making an impact in 2020.

2020 Debut Odds – 250/1

Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com

Make sure to check out all of our 2020 prospect rankings:

AL EastAL CentralAL West
Baltimore OriolesChicago White SoxHouston Astros
Boston Red SoxCleveland IndiansLos Angeles Angels
New York YankeesDetroit TigersOakland A's
Tampa Bay RaysKansas City RoyalsSeattle Mariners
Toronto Blue JaysMinnesota TwinsTexas Rangers
NL EastNL CentralNL West
Atlanta BravesChicago CubsArizona Diamondbacks
Miami MarlinsCincinnati RedsColorado Rockies
New York MetsMilwaukee BrewersLos Angeles Dodgers
Philadelphia PhilliesPittsburgh PiratesSan Diego Padres
Washington NationalsSt. Louis CardinalsSan Francisco Giants
PositionLast Updated
Catcher04/13/20
First Baseman--
Second Baseman04/15/20
Shortstop04/17/20
Third Baseman04/20/20
Outfield04/24/20
Pitcher--

2 COMMENTS

    • Bart is definitely 2/1 type odds, the Giants just hadn’t announced their 60-man pool at the time this was posted

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