Tool Time: Top Defensive Catchers

There may be no more important position on the diamond defensively than catcher. Managing the game, dropping down the call, calming the pitching staff, giving advice, framing pitches and saving runs are part of every pitch thrown. The following San Diego Padres prospects stake their claim as the best at plying their trade.

Luis Martinez

Four years ago, Martinez had never hunched on his toes behind the plate. Today, he is the top defensive catcher in the Padres' system.

There are so many things that go into being a solid defender behind the dish; Martinez does them all well and has room to grow.

Luke Carlin

As a catch-and-throw prospect, there are few with the ability of Carlin. Blessed with a strong arm and good footwork out of the hunch, Carlin gets the ball out in a hurry with accuracy.

Carlin handles the pitching staff with care, frames pitches well and excels at blocking balls in the dirt. The one area that could improve is he sometimes goes to the mound too often, disrupting the rhythm a pitcher has created.

Jose Lobaton

A year ago, Lobaton was on the outside looking in as a defensive catcher. But, he spent the off-season working solely on the craft, and the dividends were visible.

An invite to big league camp was part of the reward, as well as ample playing time this coming year. He improved at game management over the course of the year and his constant involvement in how to approach the opposition gave pitchers confidence in his abilities.

Matt Stocco

He has the strongest arm from behind the dish – a cannon that is accurate. The numbers may not be reflected in the boxscores – but that is a product of the pitcher's slow move to the plate in Low-A.

A consummate professional that does exactly what the staff asks, Stocco also calls a solid game, frames pitches well and blocks the plate.

Emmanuel Quiles

At the tender age of 17, Quiles has incredible potential as a backstop. While he did not log many games in his first year of professional ball, Quiles proved mature beyond his years.

In need of repetitions, Quiles struggled when he was put behind the plate after a week off but found his rhythm in subsequent games – showing a good feel for all the attributes a catcher needs. He could be quite interesting in two or three years.

Honorable mention:

Nick Hundley

Much improved from his early days as a catcher, Hundley has made tremendous strides with his footwork and throwing. He calls a good game and needs to block balls a little better and frame pitches more effectively.

Ali Solis

Solis has come a long way in a short time and is now a very good catcher that calls a good game and has blossoming arm strength.

Clint Naylor

Heralded as a warrior for his work ethic in the heat of Arizona, Naylor has potential to be a solid catcher. He must improve his arm strength and accuracy to be among the elite.

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