For this week's edition of Unsubstantiated Predictions, we turn our attention to Detroit Tigers rookie catcher James McCann.
McCann was drafted by the Tigers in the second round in 2011 from the University of Arkansas. Here is what I wrote about him in the 2015 Baseball Prospect Book:
Scouts have always liked James McCann’s defense. He moves well, blocks properly, throws well, leads well. The doubt has always been hitting: his bat was considered rather slow and his swing didn’t tap his physical strength for field power. He’s made some progress with that over the last couple of years, and while offense will never be his best attribute, the bat looks like less of an issue. McCann should have a long career as a defense-oriented catcher and I still think he will have a "surprise" season with the bat eventually, some year when he hits .289 with 14 homers or something. Grade C
McCann has spent all of 2015 on the Tigers major league roster and has certainly held his own, hitting .286/.324/.437 with four homers, 11 walks, and 48 strikeouts in 206 at-bats. His hitting has been adequate enough (107 wRC+) and his defense, as expected, has been impressive: he's thrown out 45% of runners trying to steal on him, hasn't committed an error, and has given up just one passed ball in 60 games behind the plate.
The glove is as good as advertised but the bat is still the question here. His batting average at .286 isn't far from the "surprise" season I mentioned in the comment, although my thinking was that such a surprise wouldn't happen for another two or three years. There hasn't been massive power and it would be nice if he drew more walks, but overall he's shown enough to keep the pitchers honest at least.
Here's the Unsubstantiated Prediction.
James McCann will finish at .274/.312/.428 this year. He'll hit something a little worse than that in 2016 and 2017. Then in 2018 at the age of 28 he will turn into the University of Arkansas version of Yadier Molina, hitting .297/.342/.460 and winning a gold glove. He'll be one of the best defensive and offensive catchers in baseball through age 30 but will decline rapidly from that point.
Remember, this prediction is unsubstantiated!