Allyson Foutty/IBI

2017 IBI Top 75 Prospects: #58 Jeremy Lucas

The 2017 countdown continues with a catcher who rebounded from a down year in 2015 to have a nice season in 2016 and put himself back on the radar as an interesting catching option in the upper levels of the system...

58. Jeremy Lucas – Catcher

Born: 01/10/1991 – Height: 6’1” – Weight: 205 – Bats: Right – Throws: Right

Facts & Info: Lucas was selected by the Indians in the 12th round of the 2012 Draft out of Indiana State University. He was originally drafted out of high school by the Baltimore Orioles in the 35th round of the 2009 Draft. In his final year of college he was named the Joe Carter Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year and a semifinalist for the Johnny Bench Award.

Offense: Lucas is a mature catching prospect who brings a lot of experience at the plate and behind it after playing three full seasons in college and now five seasons in the pros. He is an offensive-oriented catcher who puts up consistent, quality at bats because of some good plate discipline skills and a solid approach. He has a good idea of what he is doing when he steps into the box as he controls the zone well and shows some good pitch recognition skills where he doesn't chase a lot of balls out of the zone and can identify offspeed. He has a good feel for how pitchers are attacking him and just does a good job of making consistent contact, being patient enough to work counts and take walks and limit strikeouts. He has some average power with the pop in the bat to drive the ball to the gaps and occasionally out of the ballpark.

Defense: Lucas continues to make incremental strides with his defense, but is still limited defensively and grades out as a fringe average defender. While he is fringy overall, he does show some good agility, quickness and athleticism behind the plate and is a solid receiver and blocker. While he’s near tapped out defensively, there is still the potential to be solid average if his catch-and-throw skills improve. He shows a solid average arm, but his transfer and throw skills are below average because of some slow arm action and a lack of quickness getting the ball out of his glow and into a throwing position. He handles a staff well, develops a good rapport with his pitchers and is a solid game caller.

Speed & Intangibles: Lucas has a solid, durable frame and some athleticism and agility which fits the catching position well. He does little to impact on the bases as he’s a below average runner who is more station to station. He displays some mental toughness and some natural leadership skills. He’s your typical grinder who works hard, is a good teammate, inspires those around him and does a nice job with his preparations before, during and after games.

Focus: The defense continues to be the biggest question mark for Lucas as there is uncertainty whether he can do enough behind the plate to get to the big leagues. Without a big bat to cover up some of his defensive inconsistencies and deficiencies, he really needs to be better defensively before he will be given a shot in the big leagues. The biggest issue he has defensively is with his throwing as he doesn’t have the big arm strength and has below average transfer-and-throw skills. The Indians have worked with him to be quicker with his transfer, cleaner with his arm action and improve the accuracy of his throws, but has shown minimal improvement. He’s played a handful of games at first base over the last two years, which the Indians have done to improve his value by creating more versatility as a backup catcher who can handle first base, and could be a role they look to expand upon this season. The Indians also want to continue to work on his strength and conditioning in order to make him more durable and flexible to improve his agility and keep him on the field. He has a tendency to get on his backside when he swings, which is a result of not being on time, so the Indians are working with him to be more on time so that he is swinging through the ball and not off his back leg.

Future: Lucas has had an up and down career to this point. When healthy, he’s been a solid performer, as demonstrated by his performance in 2014 and 2016. He underwent offseason hip surgery after the 2014 season which really impacted his performance in 2015 as the lingering effects from the surgery along with a lower back injury he sustained while compensating for the hip really restricted and inhibited his ability to drive the ball. He had recovered from the hip surgery at the start of the 2015 season but just didn’t have the strength in his lower half. He didn’t have a normal offseason workout routine, and as a result, he lacked the power and explosion to impact the baseball which led to a much lower hard hit percentage that impacted not only his power numbers but the amount of hits that fell in or got through the infield. To his credit he kept his composure, continued to work and re-dedicated himself in the 2015-2016 offseason to come back at 100% and in the best shape possible, and that hard work paid off for him as the strength in his bat returned as he jumped from a poor .071 isolated power percentage in 2015 to a very good .173 isolated power percentage last season. The ability to drive the ball with more power and do it more consistently and with confidence as well as stay on the field regularly is what contributed to his good year and has re-established him as a catching prospect to watch in the upper levels of the system. The Indians are going to exhaust every opportunity at the Double-A level with him to improve the catching skills, throwing skills, and game managing skills before they send him to Triple-A for good, so he may be at Double-A Akron all season or at least for a great majority of it.

Ranking History: #59 (2016), #50 (2015), #76 (2014)

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