Yankees vs. Mets: Catching Prospects

Comparing what the Yankees and Mets have at each position in the minor leagues, we take a look at the crop of catcher prospects in each system. Which system is deeper? Which prospects have the most power? The highest ceilings? Take a look at this comparison between the two New York farm systems.

The Two Farm Systems: The Mets had a huge edge over the Yankees at the depth of the catcher's position a year ago, but with the trading of Mike Jacobs and subsequent retirement of Aaron Hathaway, along with the signing of Jesus Montero by the Yankees, that gap has narrowed even though the Mets signed Francisco Pena.

The biggest reason for that is Jesus Montero, who was the big-ticket International free agent signing last summer. Montero, who just turned 17-years old at the end of November, has big league power already. He also projects to be a high average hitter and a dominant force in the middle of the lineup. There are some questions about whether or not Montero will remain behind the plate in the future, not because of his defensive abilities, which are solid, but because he's already a big kid and he simply might outgrow the position if he gets too much bigger.

The Mets countered the Montero signing by landing Francisco Pena, the son of all-time catching great Tony Pena. Like his father, Francisco is a plus defensive player who projects to hit pretty well too. He doesn't have the power or offensive potential of Montero, but few do. But while the Yankees got the plus offensive player, the Mets got the defensive wizard. Pena might also have an easier transition to the pros because of his father's big league experience. Not only can his father serve as a mentor for him, but Francisco already speaks fluent English and that will help him move through the system a little quicker than most.

Jesus Flores of the Mets is by far the best catching prospect from either farm system who is closest to the big leagues. Written of by Mets' fans a year ago because of his disappointing debut in the South Atlantic League, Flores' critics simply underestimated how his broken hand affected his game. He responded by hitting 32 doubles and 21 home runs in the pitching-friendly Florida State League. Already a very good defensive player behind the plate, playing under Gary Garter this past season made him even more of a field general and his confidence is now at an all-time high.

Sean McCraw of the Mets is quietly garnering a lot of attention from scouts these days for his solid all-around game. He's neither the offensive force of Montero or Flores, nor the defensive specialist of Pena. But he contributes in all phases of the game and, at 20-years old, he's starting to build the confidence needed to become a legitimate starting catching prospect. He is a patient hitter with decent power at the plate, and behind the plate, he has good footwork and a strong enough arm to keep runners at bay.

Francisco Cervelli is the Yankee version of McCraw. Like McCraw, Cervelli is a good athlete with sound footwork. He was signed as a switch-hitting shortstop out of Venezuela and was moved to catcher in the Dominican Summer League two years ago. A natural right-handed hitter, he also gave up switch-hitting and the early returns have been positive. He is very active behind the plate, sometimes a little too busy for the liking of some scouts, but has a quick release on throws to second and his defensive game is rapidly growing. He also hit .309 with a pair of home runs in limited action with the Staten Island Yankees this past season and he's got some offensive upside to his game.

Outside of those five players, both the Mets and Yankees have some catchers to keep an eye on. Joe Hietpas is the catcher closest to the Major Leagues and his plus defensive game is the reason why. His sub-par offensive capabilities however relegate him to more of a backup at the big league level. Drew Butera is also a fine defensive catcher who has yet to prove he'll be able to hit enough to project as a starting catcher in the Majors someday.

But as good as Hietpas and Butera are defensively, nobody in either system has the defensive prowess of Yasmil Bucce of the Mets. He has the strongest arm, the quickest release, and the best footwork of any catching prospect for the Mets and Yankees. The Venezuelan native, even already at 22-years old and with just a shade over 100 at-bats in the United States (he's had injuries derail his last two seasons), was still virtually protected by the Mets from the Rule V Draft when they placed him on their AAA reserve roster, which speaks volumes to how they value his defensive abilities.

The Yankees have some catchers to keep an eye on as well. P.J. Pilittere doesn't project to hit enough to profile as a starting big league catcher, but nobody works harder. He did well offensively in 2006 and he'll have to continue to hit his way up the ladder, but he's one of the more intelligent minds behind the plate and he works extremely well with his pitchers. Jose Gil, like his Staten Island teammate Francisco Cervelli, is also a very athletic catcher behind the plate. He has the chance to possibly develop into a starting catcher in due time, but he'll need to put up some numbers to secure more playing time.

Omir Santos is a solid all-around backstop who can hit pretty well in clutch situations and does all the little things behind the plate. He lacks a plus tool to profile as a starting catcher, but he should be in the backup mix. Jared Greenwood came out of nowhere to hit 13 home runs in just 195 at-bats in the Florida State League this past year, which is quite the feat. But with no home runs prior to the 2006 season, he'll need to prove it wasn't a fluke before garnering serious consideration from scouts.

How Do They Compare In...

Power: The signing of Montero makes this a bit closer in the projected power department, he has that kind of special power. His power not only projects to be an 80 on the traditional scout's scale, it already is. But the Mets combat that with Jesus Flores, who has already proven his power in the Florida State League. The combination of Pena and McCraw, along with Flores, gives the Mets a slight advantage overall, depth-wise. Advantage: Mets

Hitting For Average: With both Pena and Montero projecting to be high average hitters, but with neither playing an official game in the pros yet, it's way too tough to give an advantage to either system in this category. Jesus Flores is a good contact hitter but his approach needs work and Sean McCraw, Francisco Cervelli, and Jose Gil are too early in their development. Advantage: Even

Defense: The Mets' catchers were by far much better defensively a year ago, and even though they lost Aaron Hathway, they still are clearly better behind the plate. Yasmil Bucce, Francisco Pena, Jesus Flores, and Joe Hietpas are defensively better than anybody the Yankees can roll out there right now. Advantage: Mets.

Speed: Both the Mets and Yankees have a pair of catchers athletic enough to not hurt their respective teams on the base paths. Francisco Cervelli and Yeider Chirinos are extremely athletic, as are Yasmil Bucce and Sean McCraw for the Mets. But none of them project to be difference makers in the speed department. Advantage: Even.

Overall Potential: The signing of Jesus Montero gives the Yankees a special bat behind the plate. His defensive abilities need a little work, which is not uncommon for a 17-year old who hasn't played a game yet, but he's more than solid enough to profile as a legitimate catcher if he doesn't outgrow the position. He is by far the best catching prospect for the Yankees.

But while Montero's ceiling is virtually limitless, the Mets have a pair of safer bets to develop into big league starting catchers in Jesus Flores and Francisco Pena. Both are above average to plus defenders behind the plate and both project to hit well enough to profile as solid offensive contributors in the Majors.

Beyond the top three though, there are a handful of catchers with the potential to be starting catchers someday - Sean Mcraw, Francisco Cervelli, and Jose Gil - but aren't safe bets just yet. After that, there are several candidates with an opportunity to develop into solid backups down the road: Yasmil Bucce, Joe Hietpas, Drew Butera, Omir Santos, P.J. Pilittere, etc.

Highest Ceilings: Jesus Montero (Yankees), Jesus Flores (Mets), Francisco Pena (Mets), Sean McCraw (Mets), Francisco Cervelli (Yankees)

Best Power: Jesus Montero (Yankees), Jesus Flores (Mets), Francisco Pena (Mets), Sean McCraw (Mets), Francisco Cervelli (Yankees)

Best Average: Jesus Montero (Yankees), Francisco Cervelli (Yankees), Francisco Pena (Mets), Jesus Flores (Mets), Sean McCraw (Mets)

Best Defense: Yasmil Bucce (Mets), Francisco Pena (Mets), Jesus Flores (Mets), Joe Hietpas (Mets), Francisco Cervelli (Yankees)

Best Speed: Francisco Cervelli (Yankees), Yasmil Bucce (Mets), Sean McCraw (Mets), Yeider Chirinos (Yankees), Jose Gil (Yankees).

Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n \r\n \r\nThe Two Farm Systems: The Mets had a huge edge over the Yankees at the depth of the catcher's position a year ago, but with the trading of Mike Jacobs and subsequent retirement of Aaron Hathaway, along with the signing of Jesus Montero by the Yankees, that gap has narrowed even though the Mets signed Francisco Pena.
\r\n
\r\nThe biggest reason for that is Jesus Montero, who was the big-ticket International free agent signing last summer. Montero, who just turned 17-years old at the end of November, has big league power already. He also projects to be a high average hitter and a dominant force in the middle of the lineup. There are some questions about whether or not Montero will remain behind the plate in the future, not because of his defensive abilities, which are solid, but because he's already a big kid and he simply might outgrow the position if he gets too much bigger.
\r\n
\r\nThe Mets countered the Montero signing by landing Francisco Pena, the son of all-time catching great Tony Pena. Like his father, Francisco is a plus defensive player who projects to hit pretty well too. He doesn't have the power or offensive potential of Montero, but few do. But while the Yankees got the plus offensive player, the Mets got the defensive wizard. Pena might also have an easier transition to the pros because of his father's big league experience. Not only can his father serve as a mentor for him, but Francisco already speaks fluent English and that will help him move through the system a little quicker than most.
\r\n
\r\nJesus Flores of the Mets is by far the best catching prospect from either farm system who is closest to the big leagues. Written of by Mets' fans a year ago because of his disappointing debut in the South Atlantic League, Flores' critics simply underestimated how his broken hand affected his game. He responded by hitting 32 doubles and 21 home runs in the pitching-friendly Florida State League. Already a very good defensive player behind the plate, playing under Gary Garter this past season made him even more of a field general and his confidence is now at an all-time high.
\r\n
\r\nSean McCraw of the Mets is quietly garnering a lot of attention from scouts these days for his solid all-around game. He's neither the offensive force of Montero or Flores, nor the defensive specialist of Pena. But he contributes in all phases of the game and, at 20-years old, he's starting to build the confidence needed to become a legitimate starting catching prospect. He is a patient hitter with decent power at the plate, and behind the plate, he has good footwork and a strong enough arm to keep runners at bay.
\r\n
\r\nFrancisco Cervelli is the Yankee version of McCraw. Like McCraw, Cervelli is a good athlete with sound footwork. He was signed as a switch-hitting shortstop out of Venezuela and was moved to catcher in the Dominican Summer League two years ago. A natural right-handed hitter, he also gave up switch-hitting and the early returns have been positive. He is very active behind the plate, sometimes a little too busy for the liking of some scouts, but has a quick release on throws to second and his defensive game is rapidly growing. He also hit .309 with a pair of home runs in limited action with the Staten Island Yankees this past season and he's got some offensive upside to his game.
\r\n
\r\nOutside of those five players, both the Mets and Yankees have some catchers to keep an eye on. Joe Hietpas is the catcher closest to the Major Leagues and his plus defensive game is the reason why. His sub-par offensive capabilities however relegate him to more of a backup at the big league level. Drew Butera is also a fine defensive catcher who has yet to prove he'll be able to hit enough to project as a starting catcher in the Majors someday.
\r\n
\r\nBut as good as Hietpas and Butera are defensively, nobody in either system has the defensive prowess of Yasmil Bucce of the Mets. He has the strongest arm, the quickest release, and the best footwork of any catching prospect for the Mets and Yankees. The Venezuelan native, even already at 22-years old and with just a shade over 100 at-bats in the United States (he's had injuries derail his last two seasons), was still virtually protected by the Mets from the Rule V Draft when they placed him on their AAA reserve roster, which speaks volumes to how they value his defensive abilities.
\r\n
\r\nThe Yankees have some catchers to keep an eye on as well. P.J. Pilittere doesn't project to hit enough to profile as a starting big league catcher, but nobody works harder. He did well offensively in 2006 and he'll have to continue to hit his way up the ladder, but he's one of the more intelligent minds behind the plate and he works extremely well with his pitchers. Jose Gil, like his Staten Island teammate Francisco Cervelli, is also a very athletic catcher behind the plate. He has the chance to possibly develop into a starting catcher in due time, but he'll need to put up some numbers to secure more playing time.
\r\n
\r\nOmir Santos is a solid all-around backstop who can hit pretty well in clutch situations and does all the little things behind the plate. He lacks a plus tool to profile as a starting catcher, but he should be in the backup mix. Jared Greenwood came out of nowhere to hit 13 home runs in just 195 at-bats in the Florida State League this past year, which is quite the feat. But with no home runs prior to the 2006 season, he'll need to prove it wasn't a fluke before garnering serious consideration from scouts.
\r\n
\r\nHow Do They Compare In...
\r\n
\r\nPower: The signing of Montero makes this a bit closer in the projected power department, he has that kind of special power. His power not only projects to be an 80 on the traditional scout's scale, it already is. But the Mets combat that with Jesus Flores, who has already proven his power in the Florida State League. The combination of Pena and McCraw, along with Flores, gives the Mets a slight advantage overall, depth-wise. Advantage: Mets
\r\n
\r\nHitting For Average: With both Pena and Montero projecting to be high average hitters, but with neither playing an official game in the pros yet, it's way too tough to give an advantage to either system in this category. Jesus Flores is a good contact hitter but his approach needs work and Sean McCraw, Francisco Cervelli, and Jose Gil are too early in their development. Advantage: Even
\r\n
\r\nDefense: The Mets' catchers were by far much better defensively a year ago, and even though they lost Aaron Hathway, they still are clearly better behind the plate. Yasmil Bucce, Francisco Pena, Jesus Flores, and Joe Hietpas are defensively better than anybody the Yankees can roll out there right now. Advantage: Mets.
\r\n
\r\nSpeed: Both the Mets and Yankees have a pair of catchers athletic enough to not hurt their respective teams on the base paths. Francisco Cervelli and Yeider Chirinos are extremely athletic, as are Yasmil Bucce and Sean McCraw for the Mets. But none of them project to be difference makers in the speed department. Advantage: Even.
\r\n
\r\nOverall Potential: The signing of Jesus Montero gives the Yankees a special bat behind the plate. His defensive abilities need a little work, which is not uncommon for a 17-year old who hasn't played a game yet, but he's more than solid enough to profile as a legitimate catcher if he doesn't outgrow the position. He is by far the best catching prospect for the Yankees.
\r\n
\r\nBut while Montero's ceiling is virtually limitless, the Mets have a pair of safer bets to develop into big league starting catchers in Jesus Flores and Francisco Pena. Both are above average to plus defenders behind the plate and both project to hit well enough to profile as solid offensive contributors in the Majors.
\r\n
\r\nBeyond the top three though, there are a handful of catchers with the potential to be starting catchers someday - Sean Mcraw, Francisco Cervelli, and Jose Gil - but aren't safe bets just yet. After that, there are several candidates with an opportunity to develop into solid backups down the road: Yasmil Bucce, Joe Hietpas, Drew Butera, Omir Santos, P.J. Pilittere, etc.
\r\n
\r\nHighest Ceilings: Jesus Montero (Yankees), Jesus Flores (Mets), Francisco Pena (Mets), Sean McCraw (Mets), Francisco Cervelli (Yankees)
\r\n
\r\nBest Power: Jesus Montero (Yankees), Jesus Flores (Mets), Francisco Pena (Mets), Sean McCraw (Mets), Francisco Cervelli (Yankees)
\r\n
\r\nBest Average: Jesus Montero (Yankees), Francisco Cervelli (Yankees), Francisco Pena (Mets), Jesus Flores (Mets), Sean McCraw (Mets)
\r\n
\r\nBest Defense: Yasmil Bucce (Mets), Francisco Pena (Mets), Jesus Flores (Mets), Joe Hietpas (Mets), Francisco Cervelli (Yankees)
\r\n
\r\nBest Speed: Francisco Cervelli (Yankees), Yasmil Bucce (Mets), Sean McCraw (Mets), Yeider Chirinos (Yankees), Jose Gil (Yankees).
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