- Deivi Grullon
- Tommy Joseph
- Andrew Knapp
- Cameron Rupp
- Logan Moore
- Jesus Posso
- Jose Mayorga
- Raywilly Gomez
- Joel Fisher
- Gabriel Lino
Honorable Mention: Chace Numata
This is only the first ranking, but it was a surprisingly difficult one off the bat (pun surely intended). The first 3 players in the rankings are really the key here as all of them have starting catcher upside, but not without their limitations. Deivi Grullon is an impressive 18 year old from the Dominican Republic just a year removed from making his stateside debut in 2013. He is already excelling behind the plate and has showcased beyond his age arm strength and defense. He won't win any HR titles, but he will have passable power for a starting catcher. The one caveat to his game is the present hit tool, which based on his 2014 numbers isn't overly impressive. But, just to put everything into perspective, the kid reached as high as Clearwater this season as an 18 year old. This kid has a bright future as he continues to shorten his swing and make solid contact.
Tommy Joseph is an often discussed name, but not always under the best circumstances. Joseph was the prize return for Hunter Pence just 2.5 seasons ago. He may look like your dad, but is still only 23. At the time of the trade he was coming off a 2011 campaign in which he hit 22 homers and hit .270. He also is regarded as an above-average defensive catcher for what its worth. Why on earth is he ranked below Grullon? Concussions. Tommy has suffered numerous concussions over his young career. He missed a significant amount of playing time in 2013 and a few games in 2014 as well. His 2014 season was cut short by breaking a finger, which required surgery. When Joseph played this season in Reading, he slashed .282/.345/.551 in 87 plate appearances with 5 homers. Now picture those kind of numbers stretched out over a full season, injury free. The concussions worry me because if he can't stick behind the plate, his prospect status diminishes considerably. Let's all hope for a injury-free 2015 for Tommy in AAA.
Andrew Knapp is an interesting name in that he has no relation to Jason Knapp and can hit the ball fairly well for a catcher. The 2013 2nd-rounder from UC Berkley impressed me with slashing .290/.354/.438 on the way back from Tommy John surgery in 2014. He was able to ease back into the catcher role and start back-to-back games towards the end of the season. His defense is rated as average, but is a pretty good athlete overall. He was a little old for Lakewood last season, but given the circumstances I think it was definitely a positive one for Knapp. He will get full-time catching duties in Clearwater and can likely see Reading by season's end with a strong first half performance.
To round out the rest of the list includes two strong candidates for a back-up major league future (Rupp and Moore) and some recent draftee/signees in which we will need to see a little bit more from them in the next year or so. Jesus Posso is a guy who could steadily move up to #4 with a strong season.