In the process of ranking the Top 50, the question of who the top catcher in the minors was came up.
Within our Top 50, there was a legitimate debate about who is the game’s top catching prospect between Rangers prospect Jorge Alfaro and Pirates prospect Reese McGuire (apologies to Kyle Schwarber fans, but while there are many who believe he can catch part-time, there are few who believe he’ll be an everyday player behind the plate). It’s a legitimate debate about who teams prefer, as Chris Crawford pointed out when he Polled the Industry. Tucker Blair and I have seen both prospects, yet come in on opposite sides of the debate.–Jeff Moore
View from the turtle during batting practice at this year's MLB Futures Game during All Star Weekend.
The Baseball Prospectus prospect team is constantly on the road, getting eyes on the top talent throughout baseball -- from the amateur ranks up through the majors. Moving forward I'll be working to bring you inside my travels (hopefully with contributions from others on the prospect team), including pictures and video. There will be a lot of baseball and some broader travel stuff if I think you might find it interesting.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Rangers catcher Jorge Alfaro and Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor.
Hitters of the Night:
Jorge Alfaro, C, Rangers (Myrtle Beach, A+): 3-5, 3 R, 3B, HR.
There aren’t too many catchers who possess an 80-grade arm and can hit triples, which gives you a good idea of Alfaro’s unique and impressive skill set.
In a relaunch of the Eyewitness Accounts series for 2014, the BP Prospect Staff profiles Jorge Alfaro, Bubba Starling, Josh Hader, Aaron Sanchez, Lucas Sims, Tim Anderson, Brandon Nimmo, and Anthony Kemp.
The minor leaguers who made a major impression this spring.
LHP Julio Urias (Dodgers)
A 16-year-old pitching in the Midwest League can turn heads, and when that pitcher can pump a fastball in the 91-96 range in each start, backed up by multiple breaking ball looks and a quality changeup, the heads start spinning. I watched two spring starts from the now 17-year-old southpaw, and I came away knowing that this was the most polished young arm I have ever seen.
Mookie Betts, Travis d'Arnaud, and Jorge Soler are among those who came off the board between picks 29 and 56.
In the first episode of the BP Mock Expert Draft, we went over the backstory and parameters of this draft, so there’s no need to rehash that here. Plus I know you’re all just going to skip past the intro anyway to see who else got picked and when. Sometimes you just have to give the people what they want.
So, without any further ado, here are the next two rounds (three and four) of the Baseball Prospectus Expert Mock Prospect Draft with analysis from the participants themselves:
A look at how catchers stack up for fantasy purposes between now and 2016.
Everyone in fantasy sports loves to look ahead. Even in the throes of a pennant race, you can fire up a conversation about next year’s first round and it will go on for an hour. With that in mind, the BP fantasy team will be taking a long-view look at every position this offseason with three-year rankings (composite value over the next three seasons). Since it is Catcher Week, the backstops will kick things off. Catchers are particularly difficult to project over a three-year period because you have guys that shift off of the position entirely while the learning curve for young guys is so sharp given all of their defensive duties.
With Joe Mauer done at the position after this year, he’s not going to rank on the list, as even a first-place finish this year wouldn’t be enough. Meanwhile there is some projection to be done with guys who could move off the position so you will see some of those guys much lower than you might anticipate since I have them delivering zero value at the position in year three.
Notes on 15 prospects, including Rangers catcher Jorge Alfaro and Dodgers lefty Jarret Martin.
Hitter of the Day: Jorge Alfaro, C, Rangers (Surprise Saguaros): 3-4, 2 R, 2B. Alfaro is quickly becoming the second-best catching prospect in the game (behind only Austin Hedges). With plus power and a plus-plus arm, the only real flaw in his game is his plate discipline, but when you hit .409 like he is this fall, no one cares.
Pitcher of the Day: Jarret Martin, LHP, Dodgers (Glendale Desert Dogs): 1 IP, H, 3 K. Lefties with 97-mph fastballs get lots of chances for reasons like this. Martin sits in the low-to-mid 90s and has been mostly 92-93 this fall, but it hasn’t helped him throw strikes more often, having walked 16 batters in 14 1/3 innings for the Desert Dogs. Martin isn’t a more well-known prospect because he generally has no idea how to throw strikes or use his velocity, but when he does, it’s pretty awesome.
Reds righty Robert Stephenson kept carving up Low-A hitters with Walt Jocketty in attendance last night.
Pitching Prospect of the Day: Robert Stephenson, RHP, Reds (Low-A Dayton): 6.2 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 K; elite fastball; plus curveball; developing changeup that has a solid-average ceiling; athletic frame; carving up Low-A competition; frontline starter potential; 59.2 IP, 49 H, 22 ER, 16 BB, 77 K in 11 starts.
We got a look at the Rangers' prospect-heavy intrasquad game in Surprise.
After minor-league camp’s first pitcher/catcher salvo and before the legitimate backfield games commence in mid-March, teams often schedule prospect-heavy intrasquad games to put eyes on the talent and get the players back in the groove of live action. On the morning of March 10th, the Rangers occupied fields 5 and 6 on the backfields in Surprise; two lower-level minor-league squads on one field, and two upper-minors squads on the other. For a prospect lover, this was like a team-specific Futures Game, only stripped of all the fanfare and pageantry. This is a barebones scouting experience and the notes will reflect that. Jason Cole saddled up to field 5 while I took a seat behind the plate at field 6, where my radar gun almost melted onto my flesh and my phone got so hot that it decided to commit suicide when I asked it to function. Also, Jorge Alfaro hit a home rune and I giggled like a child.