The MLB draft starts next Monday at 4 PM PST. In this final week, we’re going to throw some names out who might be available when the Mariners pick with numbers 17, 55, 93, and 123. (NB: there are big gaps between their first and second choices and second and third choices because that’s when the competitive balance picks are. The Mariners don’t have any picks in those rounds, but the good news is the Astros get one because the stupid Cardinals hacked their database. Stupid Cardinals.) So far we’ve covered infielders and outfielders; today we take a look at the catching prospects. Because catcher is such a thin position, I’ve done away with the tiers for this installment.
Luis Campusano, Cross Creek HS - Campusano’s dad Genaro was a catching prospect in the Pirates’ organization in the early 90s, and it looks like the skills have transferred. Campusano is a true catcher, with a strong, accurate arm and the ability to block pitches. He needs work on his receiving but as that’s the most teachable of the catcher skills he should be entirely fine behind the dish in his pro career. His bat is a project but shows some good raw power, and he has clean swing mechanics with quiet hands. Even as a high schooler, he has a big, physical build, and models himself after Salvy Perez.
M.J. Melendez, Westminster Christian HS - Has great tools as a catcher and maybe the highest defensive ceiling of the players listed here. Recorded a 1.83 pop time at a showcase in 2015 and is very quick to boot. He’s still slender and will need to add weight and mass to stick behind the dish, and his swing has some funky mechanics that lead to some swing-and-miss. His father is the head coach at Florida International, and there’s a chance he goes to play for his dad if he’s not drafted highly.
Riley Adams, San Diego - Adams is a solid athlete who has a black belt in karate, and his burgeoning power and strong performance at the Cape Cod League have garnered attention from scouts. Adams is 6’4” and 225 pounds, so a little on the larger side for a catcher, but it’s also a frame that can add weight and power as he embarks on a pro career. He has a strong arm and is a good overall athlete, but his receiving and framing need work. He loves catching, though, and has a true catcher’s mindset and desire to call games, and coaches love him.
Blake Hunt, Mater Dei HS - The 6’3”/200 pound Hunt is extremely advanced for a high school catcher, liking to call his own games, and his pitchers love working with him. His pop times are around 1.8 and he can catch and throw. He added twenty pounds of muscle over this past offseason and has a strong throwing arm. The tradeoff for this defensive superstardom is his bat, which shows raw power and pop at times but lacks consistency and needs refinement. He’s committed to Pepperdine, where he might be able to work on his swing mechanics and raise his draft stock for another go-round, but given the dearth of catching prospects and his advanced abilities behind the dish, a team will very likely want to take a chance on his skills.
Joey Morgan, Washington - A local prospect from Sisters, Oregon, Morgan sneaks into Baseball America’s Top 100 thanks to this year’s catching class being so thin. Morgan has a good body for catching, standing 6-feet-plus and weighing 200-ish pounds. He’s good at blocking and receiving, but his real calling card is his power bat. He picked up a ton of steam as he barreled through his senior season, and at one point was the number-one ranked catcher in all of DI baseball. He attracted national attention after his grand slam helped the Huskies recover from an eight-run deficit to notch an improbable 11-10 victory over USC.
Miscellaneous - These are guys who are technically listed as catchers, but who have a strong probability of not sticking there, even early in their pro careers.
Evan Skoug, TCU - Skoug is the first catcher listed on MLB Pipeline’s ranking, all the way at #48. He’s a bat-first catcher who offers some pop, but scouts feel he probably will have to shift to 1B in the pros, as he doesn’t have a great arm and is just okay defensively.
Connor Wong, Houston - Wong is a multiposition player who has okay skills behind the plate. His plus skill is speed and he can provide stolen bases and operate as a leadoff hitter, but clearly this isn’t the typical profile for a catcher, and durability is a concern.
Hagen Danner, Huntington Beach HS - Danner is a right-handed, two-way prospect who is also a pitcher whose fastball ranges 90-94 mph. It’s still unsure where exactly a team would prefer to use him. Minor League Ball has a profile on him here.