Just the fact that Chace Numata is garnering any attention as a catching prospect is interesting. When he was drafted by the Phillies - 14th round of the 2010 Draft - he was a shortstop, although the Phillies weren't the only team assessing him as a catcher. Some teams had a completely different idea and saw him as a pitching prospect thanks to a low-90s fastball and a curve that was fairly impressive in its own right.
The Phillies were among the group targeting him as a catcher and haven't wavered in their plan for him, with the exception of sticking him in left field for one emergency appearance last season.. Numata showed some basic defensive skills right from the beginning, and definitely had the arm to be a catcher, but the question was just how well those skills would develop. Numata has actually done a nice job of developing his defense, although he still has some work to do on blocking pitches in the dirt and has too many passed balls. His mechanics and footwork are better on throws, and he has shown both physically and stats-wise, that his skills are improving with each passing season.
Some injuries early in his career have slowed Numata's progress through the minors. He suffered a hamate injury in the Spring of 2011 and played just 10 games that season. The injury likely kept him from progressing to Williamsport during the season, which might have put him in position to move to Lakewood to start the 2012 season. Instead, he was at Williamsport and didn't reach Lakewood until a year later.
Offensively, Numata doesn't have a lot of natural power, but he does have a nice, compact swing and is capable of hitting the ball from gap-to-gap. He also makes good contact and doesn't try to do more than he's capable of doing offensively. In 2016, he came close to equaling out his walks (37) and his strikeouts (41) and the result was a very impressive .377 OBP with Clearwater. When he's on the basepaths, Numata has more speed and better baserunning instincts than the normal catcher, so he's not going to clog the bases.
It's likely that Numata will open the year with Double-A Reading, but the question is just where does he go from there? Cameron Rupp and now young Andrew Knapp are at the major league level, with top catching prospect Jorge Alfaro ahead of Numata at Triple-A this season. It's gotten a little late in the game for a position switch, so there doesn't seem to be much of an opportunity for Numata as a member of the Phillies organization.
His profile is that of a major league backup and maybe with some work, could help at the corner outfield positions as well. More and more teams are thinking about having a third catcher on the roster, so Numata might be a guy who could fit that sort of role somewhere down the road.