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Drafting College Catchers a Risky Busine
Finding a reliable pro catcher from the collegiate ranks is harder than you may think. Only 10 out of the 30 projected 2012 starting catchers at the MLB level originated from a university program. The majority of the backstops came from the international market or the prep ranks. Those 10 players are:
Jonathan Lucroy, Milwaukee Brewers, Louisiana at Lafayette, (3rd round)Chris Snyder, Houston Astros, U Houston (2nd)Nick Hundley, San Diego Padres, U Arizona (2nd)Buster Posey, Bay area Giants, Florida State U (1st)Tim Federowicz, Los Angeles Dodgers, U North Carolina 7thChris Iannetta, La Angels, U North Carolina (4th)Kurt Suzuki, Oakland Athletics, Cal State (4th)J.P. Arencibia, Toronto Blue Jays, U Tenne see (1st)Matt Wieters, Baltimore Orioles, Georgia Tech (1st)Alex Avila, Detroit Tigers, U Alabama (5th)
Lets take a look at the introduction to the school catchers taken in the very first five rounds of history six drafts ( Mike Sims-Walker Jersey 2006-11). A total of 41 backstops were taken and signed during that span. Generally its a fairly uninspired group with the odd exception (Matt Wieters, Buster Posey).
(Name, Current Club, College)
2011James McCann, Detroit Tigers, ArkansasAndrew Susac, Bay area Giants, Oregon StatePratt Maynard, Los Angeles Dodgers, North Carolina StateJohn Hicks, Seattle Mariners, VirginiaJake Lowery, Cleveland Indians, James MadisonBeau Taylor, Oakland Athletics, Central Florida
Its far too early to form a lot of opinions on the college catching crop from 2011. However, McCann and Susac enter 2012 with the highest profiles.
2010Yasmani Grandal, San Diego Padres, MiamiMike Kvasnicka, Houston Astros, MinnesotaBlake Forsythe, New York Mets, Tenne seeMicah Gibbs, Chicago Cubs, Louisiana StateRob Brantly, Detroit Tigers, UC RiversideCameron Rupp, Philadelphia Phillies, TexasCody Stanley, St. Louis Cardinals, UNC WilmingtonBen Heath, Houston Astros, Penn State
Grandal was the star attraction this year, going 12th overall to the Cincinnati Reds who later flipped him towards the Padres within the Mat Latos deal. The Astros originally relocated Kvasnicka to some le s demand position hoping that it would allow his bat to propel him quickly through the system. The brand new front office, though, recognized that he has much more value if he sticks using the tools of ignorance.
2009Tony Sanchez, Pittsburgh Pirates, Boston CollegeJosh Phegley, Chicago White Sox, IndianaRobert Stock, St. Louis Cardinals, Southern CaliforniaMark Fleury, Cincinnati Reds, North CarolinaJason Hagerty, North park Padres, MiamiJ.T. Wise, La Dodgers, OklahomaToby Streich, Minnesota Twins, West Virginia
Both Sanchez and Phegley have seen their values take a hit due to significant stints around the disabled list. I have Sanchez earmarked like a breakout prospect for 2012 as he looks to put his previous i sues behind him. Stock, a really highly regarded two-way player in high school, recently threw in the towel squatting behind the plate and returned to the bump hoping kick-starting his floundering pro career. Hagerty is a sleeper. Hes hit better within the 'abnormal' amounts of pro ball than expected but he struggled this year both in double-A and also the Arizona Fall League. The 2012 season will be huge for him because he returns to double-A within an organization that has some pretty solid catching depth.
2008Buster Posey, Bay area Giants, Florida StateJason Castro, Houston Astros, StanfordJake Jefferies, Tampa Bay Rays, UC DavisPetey Paramore, Oakland Athletics, Arizona StateAlex Avila, Detroit Tigers, AlabamaDock Doyle, Ny Mets, Coastal Carolina
Posey is arguably the very best college catcher acquired through the Chris Reed Jersey draft between 2006 and 11. Like many on this list, though, hes been slowed by injuries. Exactly the same can be said for Castro who'll look to end up being the Astros starting catcher in 2012. Avila has been a huge steal for that Tigers thanks to an outbreak 2011 season that saw him a sert himself as one of the best young catchers in baseball.
2007Matt Wieters, Baltimore Orioles, Georgia TechJ.P. Arencibia, Toronto Blue Jays, Tenne seeJackson Williams, Bay area Giants, OklahomaJosh Donaldson, Oakland Athletics, AuburnMitch Canham, San Diego Padres, Oregon StateEd Easley, Arizona Diamondbacks, Mi si sippi StateJonathan Lucroy, Milwaukee Brewers, Louisiana LafayetteLars Davis, Colorado Rockies, IllinoisAndrew Walker, Pittsburgh Pirates, Texas Christian
From a pure quantity standpoint, the 07 draft was a solid one for catchers as three big league starting catchers came from this draft: Wieters, Arencibia, and Lucroy. Williams and Easley are two very good defensive catchers who just havent hit good enough to settle into back-up jobs. Donaldson, originally drafted by the Cubs, happens to be being regarded as an alternative at the hot corner for injured As third baseman Scott Sizemore so his days behind the dish are mostly anything of the past.
2006Matt McBride, Colorado Rockies, LehighChad Tracy, Colorado Rockies, PepperdineJon Still, Boston Red Sox, North Sen'Derrick Marks Jersey Carolina StateTyler Reves, Chicago White Sox, Texas TechChris Hatcher, Miami Marlins, UNC Wilmington
The most interesting name out of this draft is Hatcher, who made his MLB debut as a catcher this year however moved to the mound in 11 and returned towards the big leagues like a reliever just a few short months later. Tracy were built with a nice offensive season in triple-A this year but hes quit catching and the best hope for a decent paycheck might hinge on his willingne s to experience in Japan.
* * *
With the 2012 college baseball season in its infancy here is a listing of the top five college catchers who've been ranked among Perfect Games Top 200 draft-eligible prospects. Only the first two appear to have a go at going in the first round.
1. Mike Zunino, Florida (Oakland As, 2009, 29th)2. Josh Elander, Texas Christian (Washington Nationals, 2009, 37th)3. Tom Murphy, Buffalo (Never drafted)4. Peter OBrien, Miami (Colorado Rockies, 2011, 3rd)5. Dane Phillips, Oklahoma City (Seattle Mariners, 2009, 49th)
Others: Ronnie Freeman, Kennesaw State (Never drafted), Kevin Plawecki, Purdue (Never drafted)
Scouting Reports
Mike Zunino: Its easy to see why Zunino is easily the most highly coveted catcher within the college ranks. He offers solid defensive skills to visit along with an outstanding offensive game, which includes above-average opposite field power. At the plate he shows a quiet lower half having a short stride but he might need to quiet his hands as he joins the profe sional ranks. He's a sturdy body that should withstand the rigors of catching but hell have to watch his conditioning.
Josh Elander: Elander looks a little more athletic and loose compared to average college catcher but Im not a fan of his hitting mechanics. He gets jumpy on off-speed pitches and gets out on his feet. Elander have decent bat speed but his swing is long and that he doesnt perform the best job of transferring his weight during his swing, which eliminates his natural power. He's a little bit more fleet-of-foot than the average catcher and that he shows good movement behind the plate too but his Peyton Thompson Jersey defensive skills are simply average. He's plus makeup and powerful leadership.
Tom Murphy: Murphy reaches his best when he uses a line-drive swing but, all too often, he incorporates a metal bat approach to his swing. It really works OK for him attending college ball but many of those hits may turn into lazy fly balls in the pro ranks. He doesnt use his lower half enough in his swing and relies on his torso and arms they are driving the ball. Murphy is an average defender with decent pop times but his receiving skills take some work. He has a reputation to be a powerful worker who is a pa sionate teammate.
Peter OBrien: OBrien turned down a chance to play pro ball after the Colorado Rockies drafted him in the third round of the 2011 draft. He was almost ineligible to experience his senior year of college ball as he made a decision to transfer from Bethune-Cookman to the University of Miami. The NCAA originally deemed him ineligible after the transfer but reversed its decision after OBrien appealed the decision. He has a strong, lean frame. OBrien has power potential while at bat but he might not hit for any great batting average. His mechanics are stiff and he bends on the bit an exce sive amount of throughout his swing, causing inconsistent contact that could lead to a large amount of weak fly balls and pop-ups with wood bats. OBrien is not the most gifted fielder but he works hard in internet marketing and it has improved a lot since graduating senior high school. His best defensive a set is his strong arm.
Dane Phillips: Phillips needs to get his bat into a better starting position; it looks like a defunct fish on his shoulder before the pitcher releases the ball. The left-handed hitter is slow getting his hands started, which hurts his bat speed and causes him to lunge at pitches, rather than sweep the bat smoothly through the hitting zone. Phillips continues to be raw behind the plate and it remains to be seen if he can stick there in pro ball. His arm is fringe-average behind the dish and his receiving skills need a lot of polish.

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