Position Prospects: Catchers

In the first of our six-part series looking at the Phillies prospects, we take a look at the catchers in the organization. Catching is a definite weak spot for the Phillies, but they hope that they may have at least one or two prospects that could help down the road. There probably isn't a Mike Lieberthal type player in the organization, but the Phillies would settle for a serviceable catcher who could help at the major league level.

Scranton Wilkes-Barre is home for two catchers who are splitting time behind the plate. One of them, Jesse Levis, is just insurance in case another catcher is needed at the major league level. At 35, Levis is well past the prospect days of his career, but could likely do an adequate job as a backup to cover an injury, if needed. Jeremy Salazar is another story. Salazar is 27 and is only hitting .218 for the Red Barons, but he has pretty good defensive skills. Nobody figures that Salazar is going to be pushing Mike Lieberthal for his job, but he could push Todd Pratt at some point.

At Reading, we have a collection of three catchers. The Phillies hope that one of the three will start to push ahead and turn into a true prospect. Carlos Ruiz and Edgar Cruz both started the season at Clearwater. Before too long, they were both headed to Reading and have been splitting playing time. Russ Jacobson has been at Reading all season and was getting solid playing time until an injury put him on the shelf, but he's healthy now and back on the active roster. Jacobson hasn't shown much offense throughout his minor league career, but has progressed nicely as a catcher. Of the three catchers, Ruiz is showing the most potential. At Reading, the 24 year old is hitting .275 with one homerun and nine RBI. Cruz is a little more defensive oriented and is only hitting .214 on the season. Ruiz just went on the DL with a sprained knee, so Cruz and Jacobson will share the playing time for now.

The Clearwater Phillies are also giving two catchers an opportunity at playing time. Trent Pratt is getting some pretty good reviews and has upped his average to .256 at Clearwater. Pratt, 23, didn't figure to get quite as much playing time, but with Ruiz and Cruz up at Reading, Pratt has had the chance to show what he can do. Clearwater is also giving some playing time to 24 year old Rob Avila, but Avila is struggling at the plate and doesn't figure too much in the Phillies future plans.

At Lakewood, there isn't much offense from any position. G.G. Sato isn't tearing up the league, but his three homeruns, 21 RBI and .264 average were good enough to get Sato onto the South Atlantic League All-Star roster. Sato is 24 and still figures to need some work, but according to some scouts, has the potential to be a major league catcher in a starting role. Tim Gradoville and Casey Martinez are also on the Lakewood roster, but neither are tearing things up.

Batavia and the Gulf Coast League Phillies have both just started their seasons, so it's hard to judge just what the Phillies may have there. They are excited about Justin Riley, who is hitting .273 in the early going for Batavia. Riley was a 34th round draft pick in the June draft out of North Carolina State. Grant Karlsen is just 18 and is splitting the catching time for the Gulf Coast League Phillies with Toby Barnett. The Phillies were happy with some of the young catchers that they found for the lower levels and believe that they can develop better than most of the other catchers throughout the organization.

Jose Cortez, 22, was the first catcher that the Phillies took in this year's draft and he is at Batavia, but is off to a slow start. Cortez was taken in the 14th round, four rounds ahead of Rob Johnson, who has not yet signed with the Phillies.

With all of that in mind, here is the
PhillyBaseballNews.com Phillies Top 10 Catching Prospects:

  1. Carlos Ruiz
  2. Trent Pratt
  3. G.G. Sato
  4. Jose Cortez
  5. Justin Riley
  6. Toby Barnett
  7. Grant Karlsen
  8. Russ Jacobson
  9. Jeremy Salazar
  10. Rob Avila

Philly Baseball Insider Top Stories