Sunday, April 10, 2011

Best Prospects: Catchers

For purposes of these rankings, I'm saying "prospects" are players who are listed as having 0 years of ML experience as of this season. So, we'll have some guys on ML rosters showing up.

Our top catching prospects are largely switch-hitters (4 of the 6) and either late first-rounders (4, picked 17, 18, 18 and 29) or Season 18 IFA's. They're mostly hitters with decent-to-good receiving skills, but we've got one defensive prodigy in the group. Rochester is the proud parent club for 2 of our future star C's.

#1: Orlando Aguilera (Sea 18 IFA, Pittsburgh - currently AAA): The lefty-batting Dominican is quite advanced for a 19 year-old - he could probably play in the majors now but will certainly benefit from more seasoning. Doesn't have a great arm but in time will be an above-average pitch caller. Let's face it, he'll make most of his future millions with the bat. He projects to a .300 hitter with 30-35 and occasionally 40-HR power. Multiple All-Star Games and Silver Sluggers, possibly an MVP or 2 (although C's don't seem to get nominated).

#2: Fernando Belliard (Sea 18 # 17 overall, Detroit - currently AAA): College product has superb contact and on-base skills - maybe a .400+ OBP guy - but only 15-HR power. Projects to a B arm and B pitch-calling. A plus: he'll be an absolute ironman, IF he can avoid injury (health is the biggest ratings concern). Could make several All-Star teams.

#3: Daniel Twitchell (Sea 18 #18 overall, Rochester - currently Low A): Almost identical to Belliard - switch-hitting college C with good contacts skills and good against both LHP and RHP. Not quite up to Belliard's defensive skills or durability, but a better health prognosis. Also a multiple All-Star candidate.

#4: Michael Hammond (Sea 16 #29 overall, Oakland - currently ML): What's with all the switch-hitting C's? Hammond slipped in the Season 16 draft due to the 36 Health rating, and the Surenos gladly scooped him up at #29. This guy will hit - .300/30HR's is a distinct possibility. Average arm and slightly above-average pitching calling, the big question is whether he can stay in the lineup - he's had a couple of injuries already but they haven't hurt his development too badly.

#5: Enrique Sojo (Sea 17 #18 overall, Rochester - currently AA): Another switch-hitting C for the Riot. Sojo has a howitzer attached to his shoulder, but will occasionally shoot one into the outfield (way into the OF). Already a decent pitch-caller and could get to B+ level. Could develop into a .260-.280 hitter with 20-25 HR power and decent walk totals, although he might see some severe slumps against RHP.

#6: Kazuhiro Suzuki (Sea 18 IFA, Scranton - currently Low A): Won't win any awards for offense, but projects to one of the best defensive catchers in Belle history. Already a very good pitch caller, it's just a matter of how good he'll be. Bazooka for an arm and extremely accurate. Will get some walks and hit for some power, but most years will average .200-.240. Makeup may hurt development a bit.

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