Sizing Up the Padres Catching Prospects

One of the weakest positions in the San Diego Padres system, there is no catcher that currently puts hitting together with a quality defensive game or vice versa. There is potential amongst the candidates, as we seek out the prospects with the highest ceilings, closest to the majors, sleepers, who need to make a move, and where the jury is still out.

Highest ceiling:

Jason Hagerty

A switch-hitter with power from both sides of the plate, Hagerty is still relatively new to the position. He has a lot of potential at the dish with a bat that could end up hitting for average as well. His work behind the plate must continue, as his game management and throwing isn't on par with some of the other candidates. He has the tools to be successful and must work to bring them to the forefront.

Adam Zornes

Zornes is a powerful hitter that is working out the kinks in his swing. The former Rice alumnus has had trouble with the inside pitch because of his tendency to step towards the plate and his swing will get loopy. He can hit the ball far and his defensive work continues to improve. He is a vocal leader that receives the ball well. His footwork and release need improvement to control the running game.

Luis Martinez

A stocky catcher with the body one would think of when considering the position. He is an excellent receiver, framing the glove well and has the skills to be a plus at calling a game. His arm is also an asset. On the hitting front, Martinez will not be a serious power threat but has gap ability. He has a line drive stroke and makes solid choices in swinging at pitches. There are times when he will cheat and begin his swing early, which will eventually catch up to him.

Closest to the majors:

Dusty Ryan

Ryan, acquired from the Detroit Tigers in late December, is a power threat that has holes in his swing but has upside. He works counts and will take a walk. Behind the dish, he has tremendous arm strength but is not as accurate as others on this list. He is a solid game caller and good leader. He still needs work on blocking balls. Many believe he will be a solid backup at the major league level.

Mitch Canham

While his catching skills still need improvement on all fronts, Canham has a solid approach at the plate and should be someone who can hit for a good average with blossoming power that will eventually be realized as he continues to mature. He is a classic leader that commands attention and works hard at his trade. He is still a novice in the catching game and his arm will never be one that imposes fear. If he can improve in blocking balls and calling games, Canham should be fine.

Sleepers:

Emmanuel Quiles

There is no backstop in the system that comes close to controlling the running game as Quiles. He has a cannon arm with electric feet and calls a solid game. He still turns his glove down when receiving the ball, which makes pitches thrown to his right tough to catch. His hitting has improved, as he now lays off the first pitch of the at-bat, but his pitch recognition and plate discipline will have to continue improving for the bat to play at higher levels.

Need to make their move:

Jhonaldo Pozo

Immensely powerful, Pozo has trouble recognizing pitches and taming his swing. He looks for the fences on each pitch and hasn't been able to come to terms with a simpler approach to hitting. His defense also needs work, as he is not as studious in his approach to hitters tendencies and exploiting them. His glovework and framing of pitches also needs to improve.

Ali Solis

Defensively, Solis has worked hard to become an above average backstop in controlling the running game but has not made as much progress in calling games. He is a clutch hitter but lacks the ability to recognize pitches and is purely a fastball hitter that commits too early to off-speed pitches. His offense must come along as his defense has for Solis to take the next step.

The jury is still out:

Robert Lara

While he flashed a solid approach and bat in the Arizona Rookie League, Lara did not have as much luck in the Midwest League without consistent action. The truth is he must learn to hit without regular at-bats, as that is the role of many young prospects who make it to the show. He has the defense and a strong arm to curtail base runners but must take a consistent approach, regardless of playing time.

Griffin Benedict

It was a disservice to Benedict to have him promoted so early in the year from short-season Eugene before he was ready, causing him to press and change his approach. Having him moving around the field, as he saw time in left field, added versatility but took away from the comfort level of catching where he could focus on improving there.

Brett Basham

Hurt before the season even really began, the coaching staff was impressed with his control of the strike zone and swing plane through the zone. The limited sample was not enough to make a strong case either way.

Talk about this story on our subscriber-only message boards

Join MadFriars.com on Twitter at http://twitter.com/madfriars


MadFriars Top Stories