I will be doing a series of post this week looking at draft players by position. This will lead to my final rankings before the draft, and a Draft AQA this coming weekend. Let’s start with catchers.
1. Riley Adams, JR, San Diego
Adams is the best college catcher in this draft. He has the best combination of offensive and defensive talent, and is more advanced than any high school catcher available. He is hitting .312/.424/.564, with 13 home runs and 33 walks to 57 strikeouts this year, after a .333/.385/.417 showing in the Cape Cod League last summer. He should go in the top fifty picks, likely in the first round by a team with multiple picks.
2. M.J. Melendez, Westminster Christian HS, FL - committed to Florida International
Melendez has been ranked the best catcher in this draft by many. I moved him down to second on this list because high school catchers have a higher failure rate than pretty much any other draft prospect cohort. But he is a much better athlete than is typically found behind the plate, and the potential he shows there could make him a gold glove type of talent. His lefty swing has some promise as well. He is probably one of the tougher signs, having committed to play for his dad, the head coach at Florida International.
3. Matt Whatley, JR, Oral Roberts
Whatley is one of the more underrated college players in this draft. He has the defensive chops to stick behind the plate in pro ball. He’s got very good plate discipline, and is a solid line drive hitter with the potential to add even more power. This year, he’s hitting .303/.449/.514, with 11 home runs, 50 walks and 39 strikeouts. He did struggle in the Cape last year, and that may give some folks reservations, but not me.
4. Luis Campusano, Cross Creek, GA - committed to Missouri
Campusano gets compared to Yadier Molina by more than a few folks. From a distance, it makes some sense. He’s a squat, defense-first backstop prospect right now. The bat has potential, but it will need a lot of development. He kind of the Matt Whatley of the high school class, with the added risk being why he’s ranked just behind Whatley.
5. Connor Wong, JR, Houston
Connor Wong could be the best catcher in this draft twenty years from now. A very good athlete who could play second base or outfield, his combination of power and speed makes him a college version of Craig Biggio behind the plate. That athleticism could make teams move him from catcher, even with the tools to stay behind the plate. So far, he’s hitting .297/.388/.502, with 11 home runs, 25 stolen bases, 29 walks, and 44 strikeouts, after hitting .313/.354/.442 in the Cape last summer. He ends the top tier of catching prospects.
6. K.J. Harrison, JR, Oregon State
Harrison would likely rank at the top of this list if it was based on bat only. He’s knocked down because there’s still some doubt that he can, and will, play behind the plate in pro ball. A catcher in high school, he’s played mostly in the infield in college because there have been better catchers on the roster. But a pro team may try to develop him as a catcher, which combined with his bat would make him a premium prospect. If not, he could be tried at third base, but will likely end up at first base, increasing the pressure on his bat to develop. He’s hitting .326/.394/.487 this year, with six home runs, 23 walks, and 33 strikeouts.
7. Joey Morgan, JR, Washington
Morgan will stay behind the plate in pro ball, there’s no doubt about that. Ranked by glove alone, he’s probably the best catcher in this draft. The reason he’s down here at seven is I am still not sold that his bat will handle pro pitching. Even if it doesn’t, he will probably have a long career as a defense-first backup and/or minor league catcher. And there’s nothing wrong with that. This year, he’s hitting .324/.427/.500, with five home runs, 30 walks, and 35 strikeouts.
8. Evan Skoug, JR, Texas Christian
Skoug was seen as a top fifty draft prospect before this spring. He struggled out of the gate with the bat - not good when you’re a bat-first prospect. He has turned the bat around, and he is competent enough behind the plate to stay there in pro ball. If he gets moved, it’s to move his bat through the minors more quickly. He’s known for his power, but he also has some legitimately concerning contact issues. This year he’s hitting .274/.380/.531, with 17 home runs, 35 walks, and 81 strikeouts. He did struggle in the Cape last summer, which could impact where he’s drafted.
9. Cordell Dunn, Center Hill HS, MS - committed to Texas Tech
I really, really like Dunn. The son of a former minor league pitcher, he’s one of the younger prospects in this year’s draft. He shows some real potential behind the plate, but he’s still raw back there. I’m a big fan of his swing - well, not the swing, but the results. He pretty consistently barrels the ball in spite of some ugly swing mechanics. With professional coaching, he could really boost his power potential. He ends the second tier of catchers for me.
10. Daulton Varsho, JR, Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Varsho should be able to stick behind the plate, although he’s unlikely to more than average there in pro ball. As a son of a former major leaguer, he’s got the pedigree a lot of teams love. On the surface, he looks like one of the better offensive catching prospects in this year’s draft. However, UW-M doesn’t play a lot of tough competition. They’ve had many big bats drafted that have struggled in pro ball. This year, he’s hitting .362/.490/.643, with 11 home runs, 10 stolen bases, 46 walks, and 39 strikeouts. You could replace him with anybody from 11-16 below, and I wouldn’t argue about it.
Presented without comment are the catchers ranked 11-20. Feel free to ask for more information in the comments below.
11. Sam McMillan, Suwanee HS, FL - committed to Florida
12. Blake Hunt, Mater Dei HS, CA - committed to Pepperdine
13. David Banuelos, JR, Long Beach State
14. Steven Williams, Deerfield-Windsor HS, GA - committed to Auburn
15. Chris Williams, JR, Clemson
16. Deon Stafford, JR, St. Joseph's University
17. Zach Jackson, Winter Haven HS, FL - committed to Florida
18. Mike Rivera, JR, Florida
19. Spencer Smith, Northern HS, NC - committed to East Carolina
20. Philip Clarke, Christ Presbyterian HS, TN - committed to Vanderbilt