Catcher is undergoing a renaissance with a wave of top-tier prospects that started last year and keeps adding talent that will keep pumping life into hitter-starved position for years to come.
Last year saw the graduation from prospect-hood of Keibert Ruiz, Joey Bart, MJ Melendez, Adley Rutschman and Shea Langeliers. Rutschman and Melendez are already elite options at the position with Ruiz, Bart and Langeliers getting a chance to emerge this season.
Our top-ranked catcher prospect in our 2023 preseason catcher rankings is 21-year-old power-hitting Francisco Alvarez of the Mets. The stocky Venezuelan hit 27 homers between Double- and Triple-A as a 20-year-old before hitting one tater in 12 ABs with New York. It is to be seen if his defense will be good enough to prevent having to stick his bat at DH, but he’ll at least qualify at catcher early in his career.
Other catchers with ETAs of sometime in 2023 that will join Alvarez in this year’s wave include the Pirates’ Endy Rodriguez (No. 3), the Guardians’ Bo Naylor (No. 4), the Angels’ Logan O’Hoppe (No. 5), the Yankees’ Austin Wells (No. 6), the Pirates’ Henry Davis (No. 9), the Astros’ Yainer Diaz (No. 13), the Diamondbacks’ Gabriel Moreno (No. 14), the Padres’ Luis Campusano (No. 16), the Astros’ Korey Lee (No. 19) and the Cardinals’ Ivan Herrera (No. 20).
Rodriguez put up spectacular numbers over three levels, finishing with a homer in Triple-A, combining for an amazing triple-slash of .323/.407/.590. He is so athletic that he could eventually move out from behind the plate, but the bat is special.
Naylor could soon give us another catcher with steals potential like J.T. Realmuto and Daulton Varsho. The 23-year-old soon-to-be teammate of brother Josh Naylor, Bo combined for 21 homers and 20 steals between Double- and Triple-A, drawing a ton of walks in the process to turn a decent .263 average into a top-notch .392 OBP.
O’Hoppe is batting Max Stassi for the Angels’ starting catcher job after dominating Double-A last year – .283/.416/.544 with 26 HR in 360 ABs. Moreno is challenging Carson Kelly for the Diamondbacks’ starting job and Campusano is taking on Austin Nola for the Padres’ gig.
Other prospects who will keep the wave going in future years include No. 2 Diego Cartaya of the Dodgers, No. 7 Harry Ford of the Mariners, No. 8 Kevin Parada of the Mets and No. 10 Dalton Rushing of the Dodgers. And don’t forget, the top-ranked international signing from January is catcher Ethan Salas, who sits at No. 17 on this list for now but could make his way to the top in the coming years.