So far we have covered a very strong outfield crop of prospects and a very weak shortstop crop of prospects. Today we cover a position that hopefully will not be needed at the major league level for a long time, catcher. The St. Louis Cardinals have the best catcher in the game, Yadier Molina, locked up through 2018, so there is no need for a prospect who can step in right away at the major league level. Of course, you always worry about injury, but you can’t be paranoid about it. That said, the catchers position may be not be the strongest, but there is potential.
Again what we are looking for are players who will make an impact on a major league roster. This is not about who is closest to the major leagues. Bu impact, we are looking for someone who could be an everyday player.
Lets take a look at the top 5:
#5 – Audry Perez
While Perez may be the closest to the major leagues on this list, I believe that actually hurts him. Perez fits in behind Molina and Tony Cruz on the depth chart and without a significant injury to Molina, Perez will stay in that spot. Also, with the need for an additional bench bat, Perez most likely begins the season back at Memphis. Yes, he is still pretty young for being in the organization so long. He also is an above average defender, I just don’t see him being a constant contributor at the major league level.
#4 – Casey Rasmus
Rasmus, the younger brother of former Cardinal Colby Rasmus, seems to be a do-it-all for the Cardinals as he has played at three different levels the past three seasons. In 2013, he played for Low-A Peoria, High-A Palm Beach, and Double-A Springfield. In 52 combined games, Rasmus hit .298 and stole 14 bases. I recently polled pitchers in the Cardinals organization on who their favorite catcher to throw to was, and he received very high praise from his teammates.
#3 – Cody Stanley
In 2013, Stanley made the jump from High-A to Double-A, which is one of the toughest jumps to make and he had a pretty solid season. When he was promoted in May, he was splitting time with Audry Perez, but Perez was promoted in early July allowing Stanley to get the majority of the playing time. Stanley is an above average defender who could hit between 10-15 home runs. His upside may not be the highest, but I believe he could start in the major leagues one day
#2 – Steve Bean
Bean was a supplemental first round pick in the same 2012 draft that produced current and future major leaguers Michael Wacha, Stephen Piscotty, and Lee Stoppelman just to name a few. Bean was taken as a raw but high upside catcher who would need several years in the system before he would become major league ready. His professional career has not started out the best, but it is too early to throw in the towel. In his 1 1/2 years of professional ball, he has not yet made it past the rookie level, but again he is raw. Bean is a plus defender with a plus arm. He could eventually show plus power at the plate and solid contact. Hopefully he will be healthy for 2014 and can make some strides to eventually end the season with a full-season club.
#1 – Carson Kelly
Yes, I am putting Carson Kelly at the top of this list even though he has yet to catch an inning of professional baseball. Kelly was moved to catcher during the fall instructional league and a Cardinals’ official has told me he will continue to catch in Spring Training 2014. Kell’s potential at the plate make him a likely top 10 prospect no matter where he plays. If he can make the transition to catcher, that will increase his stock when it comes to prospecting. Kelly has an above average arm and I believe above average instincts to be able to handle receiving a game. I would imagine the Cards will take it slow with Kelly behind the plate in 2014, but a start with the Peoria Chiefs would not surprise. As a Cardinal official told me, Kelly is a “special player.” I have full confidence he will be able to handle to move to catcher and will be a solid replacement for the best Cardinal catcher of all time.
Others to watch for and other catching notes
Adam Ehrlich has the ability to join this list if he can stay healthy. He will turn 21 in a couple of weeks and only played in 14 games in 2013 due to injury. Ehrlich put together a solid first full season in 2012, and another full season could very well move him onto this list.
This is a pretty low position group, but it has very high upside. It would not surprise me to see only one catcher in our top 50 prospect list that will come out in February of 2014.
Out of any position group, this one may have the biggest movement during the 2014 season. Stay tuned for an updated list after the season begins. Thanks for reading and next week we will look at a very deep first base position.
You can view our other position rankings below
Catcher - CLICK HERE TO VIEW ARTICLE
First Base - CLICK HERE TO VIEW ARTICLE
Second Base - CLICK HERE TO VIEW ARTICLE
Third Base - CLICK HERE TO VIEW ARTICLE
Shortstop - CLICK HERE TO VIEW ARTICLE
Outfield - CLICK HERE TO VIEW ARTICLE
Left Handed Starters - CLICK HERE TO VIEW ARTICLE
Right Handed Starters - Week of 1/6 – 1/12
Relievers - Week of 1/13 – 1/19
- Ranking the top 10 outfielders in the St. Louis Cardinals organization (cardinalsfarm.com)
- Ranking the top 5 shortstops in the St. Louis Cardinals organization (cardinalsfarm.com)
- The WAR against Molina (by Chris Tyrrell) (stlcupofjoe.com)