Mejia leads list of Top 10 catching prospects
MLB Pipeline will unveil its 2018 Top 100 Prospects list on Saturday with a one-hour show on MLB Network at 8 p.m. ET. Leading up to the release, we look at baseball's top 10 prospects at each position.
MLB Pipeline's 2018 Top 10 Catching Prospects list looks a lot like our 2017 edition. Francisco Mejia (Indians) and Carson Kelly (Cardinals) once again occupy the top two spots, though they've flip-flopped from a year ago, and the top five catchers entering 2017 repeat on this year's Top 10.
Mejia is one of six catchers on the list who stand out most with their offensive prowess, while Kelly is the highest ranked of the three backstops who are future Gold Glove candidates. The best all-around catcher might be Keibert Ruiz (Dodgers), who's also the youngest at age 19.
:: Complete 2018 Top Prospects coverage ::
We'll continue to present positional Top 10 Prospects every weekday through Jan. 25, leading up to the reveal of our overall Top 100 Prospects list on Saturday, Jan. 27. We'll unveil the Top 100 on an MLB Network special (simulcast on MLB.com) at 8 p.m. ET.
The Top 10
- Francisco Mejia, Indians More »
- Carson Kelly, Cardinals More »
- Keibert Ruiz, Dodgers More »
- Sean Murphy, Athletics More »
- Jake Rogers, Tigers More »
- Jorge Alfaro, Phillies More »
- Chance Sisco, Orioles More »
- Danny Jansen, Blue Jays More »
- Zack Collins, White Sox More »
- Victor Caratini, Cubs More »
Best hitter: Mejia (60)
After setting a modern Minor League record with a 50-game hitting streak in 2016, he finished seventh in the Double-A Eastern League batting race (.297) at age 21 last year. A switch-hitter adept from both sides of the plate, Mejia rarely swings and misses and has improved his power output for three straight seasons.
Best power: Alfaro, Collins (55)
Alfaro has more raw power, though Collins' more patient approach may give him more usable pop in the long run. Collins smashed 19 homers in his first full year as a pro in 2017, more than Alfaro has hit in any of his eight seasons. The latter did slug .514 with five homers after Philadelphia called him up in August.
Fastest runner: Alfaro (45)
Though he's 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds, Alfaro moves well for his size. He's not as aggressive on the bases as he was early in his career, but he's also not a liability like a lot of catchers are.
Best arm: Alfaro, Mejia, Murphy (70)
Alfaro, Mejia and Murphy all have plus-plus arm strength, with Murphy possessing the most consistent footwork and release. He led the trio by throwing out 33 percent of basestealers last season, with Alfaro and Mejia each erasing 30 percent.
Best defender: Rogers (70)
While Kelly and Murphy are two of the better defenders at any position in the Minors, Rogers is truly special. Part of the trade that sent Justin Verlander from the Tigers to the Astros in August, he's extremely athletic and agile and has exceptionally soft hands. His quick transfer and impressive accuracy help him play above his solid arm strength, as he eliminated 46 percent of basestealers in 2017.
Highest ceiling: Mejia
If his power continues to develop and his receiving continues to improve, Mejia could be a .300-hitting, 20-homer catcher. He's gifted enough offensively that Cleveland is exploring different ways to get his bat into the lineup, including trying him at third base in the Arizona Fall League.
Highest floor: Kelly
There's no question that he can do everything needed behind the plate, and Kelly also has the ability to hit for at least decent average and power. Now he just needs Yadier Molina to slow down in St. Louis so he can get some playing time.
Rookie of the Year candidate: Alfaro
Alfaro is the lone player on our Top 10 who looks like he'll be his club's starter, though Sisco has a shot with the Orioles and Caratini figures to be the backup with the Cubs. Given his power and the hospitability of Citizens Bank Park, 20 homers aren't out of the question for Alfaro.
Highest riser: Ruiz
He had yet to make his full-season debut coming into 2017, but Ruiz handled that challenge by batting .316/.361/.452 between two Class A stops while playing at age 18 for most of the year. He's a switch-hitter with a precocious feel for hitting and solid defensive potential.
Humblest beginning: Jansen
A 16th-round pick as a Wisconsin high schooler in 2013, he passed on a commitment to Jacksonville to sign for $100,000. Jansen's career got off to slow start, as he spent two years in Rookie ball and then batted .213 in two years of Class A ball before breaking out n 2017.
Most to prove: Collins
Collins went 10th overall in the 2016 Draft because the White Sox loved his power and patience, and he hasn't disappointed with his 25 homers and 120 walks in 152 pro games. But he has to improve on his .229 batting average and 28 percent strikeout rate while getting better behind the plate.
Keep an eye on: Daulton Varsho, D-backs
The son of former big leaguer Gary Varsho and the highest pick ever out of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (second round last June), Daulton is a very athletic catcher with plus speed and offensive upside. He batted .311/.368/.534 in his pro debut, leading the Class A Short-Season Northwest League in slugging, OPS (.902) and extra-base hits (26).