Baseball's Top 10 Catching Prospects

Finding a catcher that can rake is an anomaly in most circles, but over the last few years, catching prospects are showing they can not only play well defensively but also handle the stick. Find out if your team's prospects made the list. Also, three additional prospects made the watch list for 2010.

1. Jesus MonteroNew York Yankees
An offensively gifted prospect since he entered the professional ranks, the lone concern regarding Montero is his ability to remain a catcher. His value, however, is not tied to his position. He has tremendous power with high average potential – a player that will be an offensive force from the first day that figures to compete annually for All-Star recognition.

2. Carlos SantanaCleveland Indians An excellent offensive talent that terrorized Eastern League pitchers on his way to the MVP award, he has an ability to hit, hit for power, work counts, and beat the opposition in a variety of ways. His defense has come along very nicely, and he should be one of the top catchers in the big leagues in short order; possibly even at some point in 2010.

3. Buster PoseySan Francisco Giants
An excellent two-way player that boasts solid defense and a potent bat, Posey has the makings of a perennial All-Star. Impressive pitch recognition and strike zone awareness allow him to swing at balls he can drive, giving him more power than his frame would suggest. He also has a plus arm behind the dish. The only area he needs to clean up is his overall game management with the pitching staff.

4. Tyler FlowersChicago White Sox
A physical specimen, Flowers has above-average power that he combines with solid strike zone judgment. Flowers will have no problem hitting the gaps regularly as an extra-base machine that bats in the middle of an order. There were some questions about his defense but he has assuaged those concerns with an impressive 2009 where he gunned down 29 percent of base runners.

5. Derek NorrisWashington Nationals
Norris burst on the scene in 2009 with a very strong .286/.413/.513 line in 126 games at Hagerstown, all while throwing out 36% of would-be base stealers. Norris is the catcher of the future in Washington, and his arrival could be just a year behind prized pitching prospect Stephen Strasburg's arrival.

6. Austin Romine – New York Yankees
A mature offensive approach that employs a center to opposite field strategy, Romine profiles as a high average hitter with gap power that could develop further. He is an aggressive hitter and could stand to be more selective. Like others on this list, Romine has grown as a catcher over the last year. His overall receiving skills and game management has improved, as has his footwork and agility. He already had a plus arm.

7. Tony SanchezPittsburgh Pirates
A premium defensive player, Sanchez did early work to quiet concerns about his bat by posting a .309/.409/.539 line across three levels in his professional debut this summer. Sanchez is a sure-fire big leaguer, and the continued progress of his bat will determine if he is a solid regular or a star behind the dish.

8. Alex AvilaDetroit Tigers
Detroit aggressively pushed the sweet-swinging Avila to Double-A in his first full season, and as he showed progress behind the plate by gunning down 44 percent of base runners, the Tigers turned to him for a spark at the big league level. After a .279/.375/.590 line in 72 plate appearances, Avila may just be ready to be an offensive-minded catcher with room for growth as a defender.

9. Hank CongerLos Angeles Angels of Anaheim
While the questions remain regarding Conger's ability to stay behind the dish, there is no questioning his bat. His value, however, is tied to his ability to stick at the backstop position. The switch-hitter has plus power potential from both sides and has grown into a more patient hitter. Behind the plate, Conger needs to improve the mechanics of his throws, become better at calling games, and take on a leadership role.

10. Jason CastroHouston Astros
Heading into the 2008 draft, Castro was a safe bet to be a big league catcher down the line, and the Astros popped him with the 10th pick in the first round. In his first full season, Castro fulfilled the promise he had shown at Stanford by hitting a combined .300/.380/.446 at two levels, and putting him in line to reach Houston as early as the first half of 2010.

Names to Watch:

Christian BethancourtAtlanta Braves
After a $600K signing bonus in 2008, Betancourt's stateside debut was fantastic, as he hit .277/.342/.446 across two levels at just 17 years old.

Gary Sanchez - New York Yankees
At just 17-years old, Sanchez already projects for plus power, has a plus-plus arm and athleticism behind the dish. He won't come quickly, but some scouts have dared to say he looks a little like another Yankees stud catching prospect; top prospect Jesus Montero.

J.P. ArencibiaToronto Blue Jays
There are very few catchers who rival his power potential, but the low batting averages he has posted are cause for concern.

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