by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Catchers are often slow to develop offensively, and even when they arrive the wear and tear on the position makes it harder to produce. That doesn’t make it impossible, though, and there are a pair of catchers currently improving their stock in fast order while playing at Double-A. Who are they and just how high of a ceiling do they have? Let’s take a look:
Tomas Nido – New York Mets
Prior to the season we were aggressive with our ranking of Nido, ranking him as the seventh best catching prospect (click here to view). In April it wasn’t looking like it was a good decision, though as the calendar turned to May his bat has heated up at Double-A:
- April – .196 (11-56) with 1 HR, 8 RBI and 4 R
- May – .321 (17-53) with 2 HR, 11 RBI and 8 R
Overall he is hitting .257 with 3 HR, and he’s continuing to show the signs that caught our attention in ’16. While he’s moved up to tougher competition, he’s continued to make regular contact with an 11.4% strikeout rate. That’s going to be the key, because it’s definitely possible that he grows into his power, something that he was expected to produce when he was drafted.
Here’s what MLB.com said about his offensive game prior to the season:
“He’s capable of using the whole field and can drive the ball, showing some glimpses of above-average raw power. While he might never be a big approach guy — he’s aggressive at the plate — he makes a lot of hard contact, though he’ll have to continue to make adjustments as he moves up.”
While MLB pitchers may take advantage of the aggressiveness (6.1% walk rate in ’17), if he can evolve into a 12-15 HR hitter there’s going to be more than enough value. Think of him as a potential .270ish hitter with some power, and value him accordingly.
Current Grade – B-
Upside Grade – B+
Danny Jansen – Detroit Tigers
After dominating High-A to start the season the Tigers recently pushed Jansen to Double-A, and he hasn’t missed a beat:
- High-A – .369 (45-122) with 5 HR and 18 RBI
- Double-A – .438 (7-16) with 0 HR and 2 RBI
Obviously he’s not going to maintain these types of averages (.385 BABIP at High-A), but it’s clear that he’s made a notable adjustment to his approach. Just look at some key changes from ’16 to ’17 at High-A:
|Season||AB||Strikeout Rate||Groundball Rate||Fly Ball Rate|
You can argue that he was clearly swinging for the fences last season, though power certainly isn’t his forte (he managed just 1 HR and 7 doubles at High-A last season). His change clearly helped, with 6 doubles to go along with the 5 HR and he’s already smashed 4 doubles in his four games at Double-A.
We don’t have enough of a sample size at Double-A to draw any definitive conclusions from, but if he can continue the approach he’s shown he’s going to start grabbing more people’s attention. Currently flying under the radar, the upside is there.
Current Grade – C+
Upside Grade – B
Sources – MILB.com, Fangraphs
Make sure to check out all of our 2017 Prospect Rankings: