2011 MLB Draft | Catchers Review

Welcome back to our review of the 2011 draft. In this series we’re taking a look at players from the 2011 draft who signed and got into game play in 2011.  We’ve separated the High School players from the College players and compiled which players had the best season statistically.  This isn’t a prospect ranking, rather simply a report on how they did.  Right now, we are going to look at the group of Catchers.  Speaking of catchers, it was great news to see that Washington Nationals’ catcher Wilson Ramos was rescued from his abductors today.  What a very odd situation, but fortunately he’s well.  Now let’s dive into Catchers from the 2011 draft.

The High School Catchers

Chicago CubsNeftali Rosario, C Chicago Cubs – (18) – Round: 6 Pick: 189

The Puerto Rican catcher isn’t at this point going to rank higher than fellow Cub catching prospects Wellington Castillo, Micah Gibbs, Steve Clevenger, or Luis Flores, however he’s the best one they’ve got in the lower levels.  He hit .294/.351/.490 – HR-3/3B-3/2B-5/RBI-17/R-18/SB-1.  He needs to work on his strike zone management as evidenced by his 28/6 K/BB ratio in 102 at bats over 25 games with the Rookie Level Cubs of the Arizona League. Rosario should see some time with the Low-A Bosie Hawks of the Northwest League in 2012, which would work out well for me to snag some video of him.

San Diego PadresAustin Hedges, C San Diego Padres – (18) – Round: 2 Pick: 82

A second round pick in 2011, Hedges was actually the Padres 6th overall pick and required over-slot money to sign away from UCLA. Known as a premier defensive catcher, there are lots of questions about his bat developing.  He’s a great leader and student of the game, if he can get his bat to be more consistent, he will have a fine career in the major leagues.  He hit .231/.412/.385 – HR-1/2B-1/RBI-4/R-3/SB-1.  He had a good eye at the plate with a 4/7 KK/BB ratio over just 26 at bats in 9 games between the Arizona League and the Low-A Eugene Emeralds of the Northwest League. I didn’t get a chance to see him in his brief 4 games in the NWL, but I’m optimistic that he will start off with Eugene again in 2012.

Arizona DiamondbacksMichael Perez, C Arizona Diamondbacks – (18) – Round: 5 Pick: 154

Another Puerto Rican catcher, Perez has a strong arm and a power bat, which he displayed, even if it was only for a limited time, to end the season.  He hit .217/.280/.565 – HR-2/2B-2/RBI-3/R-5/SB-1. He struck out more than we would like to see, displaying a 10/2 KK/BB ratio in 23 at bats over 7 games with the Rookie Level Diamondbacks of the Arizona League. Yet another candidate to start 2012 in the Northwest League. Perez should see time with the Low-A Yakima Bears.

Kansas City RoyalsCameron Gallagher, C Kansas City Royals – (18) – Round: 2 Pick: 65

Gallagher hit .157/.273/.300 – HR-2/RBI-9/R-8. He also had a  19/10 K/BB ratio in 108 at bats over 28 games with the Rookie Level Royals of the Arizona League and the Rookie Level Idaho Falls Chukars of the Pioneer League. The 6’3″ Gallagher comes from a baseball pedigree. His dad and older brother played professional baseball. He’s an excellent defensive catcher, but his hitting mechanics are a work in progress. He should stick behind the plate and actually have a career if he can hit some. The Royals have 4 Rookie Level teams, 3 of which are in the states, so he could be just about anywhere in 2012. Considering he finished off the season in the Pioneer League, it stands to reason that he should be there.

Boston Red SoxBlake Swihart, C Boston Red Sox – (19) – Round: 1 Pick: 26

Swihart only managed to get into 2 games with the Rookie Level Red Sox of the Gulf Coast League, going hitless and striking out twice. Truthfully he’s on this list because he was one of the few High School Catchers to make it into game play in 2011, not to mention he was the 1st catcher (C.J. Cron played exclusively at 1B) to be taken in the draft. He’s got the bat and the Red Sox are hoping to polish him up nice and pretty as a defensive catcher. That’s why they paid to keep him from going to the University of Texas.

The College Catchers

Chicago White SoxKevan Smith, C Chicago White Sox – (23) – Round: 7 Pick: 231

At age 23, Smith clearly was too dominant against the younger pitching in the Appalachian League. After hitting nearly .400 for almost 100 at bats, they moved him to the Rookie Level Pioneer League where the pitching was more advanced and he still played well. Still, he’s going to need to advance rapidly to be taken serious as a catching prospect.  He does have the defensive ability and a lot of power in his bat. Questions remain whether he will hit for average or not.  Overall, he hit .355/.448/.626 – HR-9/3B-3/2B-22/RBI-48/R-46/SB-2.  He also had a fantastic 30/28 K/BB ratio in 203 at bats over 56 games, split pretty close to even between the Bristol White Sox of the Appalachian League and the Great Falls Voyagers of the Pioneer League, both rookie level. I don’t see any reason why the White Sox won’t be aggressive and move him to the High-A Winston-Salem Dash of the Carolina League to start the 2012 season.

Pittsburgh PiratesJonathan Schwind, C Pittsburgh Pirates – (21) – Round: 41 Pick: 1232

The late round pick from Marist College, battered the GCL to the tune of .347/.456/.589 – HR-4/3B-2/2B-14/RBI-25/R-31/SB-4.  He also had a 24/13 K/BB ratio over 124 at bats in 38 games for the Rookie Level Pirates of the Gulf Coast League.  Not too bad for a guy converted to catcher.  He will need to show he can hit against older pitchers and we would like to to see him with the Single-A West Virginia Power of the South Atlantic League. I think though, Samuel Gonzalez is likely to start there, meaning Schwind will head to the Low-A State College Spikers of the New York-Penn League.

Jack Marder, C Seattle Mariners – (21) – Round: 16 Pick: 483 

It would seem when the Mariners placed 4th Round pick catcher, John Hicks, who we will get to later, at Single-A Clington, that they threw Marder under the proverbial bus when they placed him in High-A. But he responded with a .324/.380/.493 – HR-2/2B-6/RBI-12/R-11/SB-3. About the only negative thing you could point at is his 12/2 K/BB ratio in 71 at bats over 18 games. The only question for 2012 is which catcher will start where? Someone will likely be with the High-A High Desert Mavericks of the California League, and the other with the Double-A Jackson Generals of the Southern League.

Milwaukee BrewersBenjamin McMahan, C Milwaukee Brewers – (21) – Round: 23 Pick: 701

Picked in the 30th round of the 2008 draft by the New York Yankees, Ben McMahan improved his fortunes slightly by going to the University of Florida and signing with the Brewers in the 23rd round of the 2011 draft. He hit .315/.329/.519 – HR-7/3B-1/2B-10/RBI-25/R-26/SB-3. His 36/3 K/BB in 162 at bats over 39 games with the Rookie Level Helena Brewers of the Pioneer League. He should start the 2012 season with the Single-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers of the Midwest League.

Chicago CubsRafael Lopez, C Chicago Cubs – (23) – Round: 16 Pick: 489

Here’s another example of a player who played well, but not so well to get promoted, against way younger pitchers working on their fastball.  Lopez hit .319/.383/.449/ – HR-6/2B-8/RBI-39/R-35/SB-1, with a solid 28/22 K/BB in 207 at bats over 57 games with the Low-A Boise Hawks of the Northwest League.  The Single-A Peoria Chiefs of the Midwest League is where Lopez will likely be in 2012.

John Hicks, C Seattle Mariners – (21) – Round: 4 Pick: 123

A lot of critics believe the Mariners over drafted Hicks in the 4th round as an attempt to get Danny Hultzen to sign, as Hicks was his catcher at the University of Virginia.  In the end, Hultzen, like most was fond of lots of money and signed with the Mariners.  Hicks, on the other hand may have quieted the doubters for the time being by hitting .309/.331/.446 – HR-2/3B-2/2B-9/RBI-26/R-21/SB-2.  He’ll need to learn a little more discipline at the plate.  He had a 17/5 K/BB in 139 at bats over 38 games with the Single-A Clinton Lumberjacks of the Midwest League.  As I previously mentioned a few posts ago, with Hicks and Marder, one is going to end up with the High Desert Mavericks and the other with the Jackson Generals in 2012.

Oakland AthleticsNick Rickles, C Oakland Athletics – (21) – Round: 14 Pick: 436

Rickles is what Moneyball is about.  Defensively sound and gets on base.  He hit .310/.364/.441 – HR-2/3B-4/2B-11/RBI-35/R-21/SB-6.  He also had a 28/15 K/BB ratio in 168 at bats over 6 games with the Rookie Level Athletics of the Arizona League and 41 games with the Low-A Vermont Lake Monsters of the New York-Penn League.  He’s got a chance to stick at catcher and work his way up the system.  He should start 2012 with the Single-A Burlington Bees of the Midwest League.

Los Angeles Angels of AnaheimAbel Baker, C Los Angeles Angels – (20) – Round: 7 Pick: 225

Baker has a bazooka for an arm.  It’s the best in the Angels system and a great one in the minors.  He can hit for average and has a little pop.  If he can stick at catcher, he could be a regular in the majors and provide some offensive value.  He hit .306/.406/.471 – HR-4/3B-2/2B-10/RBI-33/R-22/SB-1.  He had a 44/27 K/BB in 157 at bats over 48 games with the Rookie Level Orem Owlz of the Pioneer League.  He needs to cut down on the strikeouts, but the Angels should be pleased with his ability to take a walk.  I think they will give him a shot with the High-A Inland Empire 66ers of the California League in 2012.

Los Angeles Angels of AnaheimJett Bandy, C Los Angeles Angels – (21) – Round: 31 Pick: 945

No, he’s neither a secret agent or a video game character.  He’s a late round catcher who made the most out of 2011 campaign, with one game, as in brief, stops at AAA and AA along the way.  He hit .308/.392/.492 – HR-5/2B-19/RBI-32/R-35/SB-2.  He also had a 23/10 K/BB ratio in 185 at bats in 50 games, with all but 4 coming with the Rookie Level Angels of the Arizona League.  With fellow 2011 draft pick, catcher Abel Baker, likely headed to High-A, Bandy should be with the Cedar Rapid Kernels of the Midwest League.  Certainly just a speculation, and you could possibly flip-flop the two for 2012.

Honorable Mentions:

Matt Rice, C Tampa Bay Rays – (22) – Round: 9 Pick: 301 – .286/.376/.370 HR-3 SB-5

Austin Barnes, C Miami Marlins – (21) – Round: 9 Pick: 283 – .288/.369/.361 HR-1 SB-6

Tony Caldwell, C Miami Marlins – (22) – Round: 24 Pick: 733 – .306/.410/.367 HR-1 SB-2

Phillip Chapman, C Minnesota Twins – (22) – Round: 35 Pick: 1078 – .308/.392/.442 HR-0 SB-1

Ricky Pacione, C Los Angeles Angels – (22) – Round: 48 Pick: 1455 – .333/.387/.362 HR-0 SB-2

Check back soon as we profile many more Top MLB Prospects and also get our baseball geek on and take a look at some of the later draft picks from the 2011 draft that we think could be big names on the prospect radars in the near future. While you’re here, take a look at our article  Prospect Instinct | Zach Lee, RHP Los Angeles Dodgers and be a step ahead of the game. Thanks for checking Baseball Instinct. We’re working hard to bring you the best of the minor leagues and make the site the best experience it can be. So don’t hesitate to tell us what you would like to read about. Email us now at  mailbag@baseballinstinct.com.

Other articles in this series:

2011 MLB Draft | Third Basemen

2011 MLB Draft | Second Basemen

2011 MLB Draft | Shortstops Part 1

2011 MLB Draft | Shortstops Part 2

2011 MLB Draft | Shortstops Part 3

2011 MLB Draft | Catchers

2011 MLB Draft | First Basemen

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