The last two players to headline our Top 10 catching prospects lists, Adley Rutschman (2022) and Francisco Álvarez (2023), both ranked as the best overall prospect in baseball at one point. This year's best catcher, Ethan Salas, could pull off the same feat in the near future.
Salas probably won't make his big league debut until 2025 at the earliest, which is true of all but one of our Top 10 catchers. The lone exception is Jeferson Quero, who's already Milwaukee's best defensive option behind the plate and should surface at American Family Field after some time in Triple-A.
The Top 10 (ETA)
1. Ethan Salas, Padres (2025)
2. Samuel Basallo, Orioles (2025)
3. Jeferson Quero, Brewers (2024)
4. Harry Ford, Mariners (2025)
5. Kyle Teel, Red Sox (2025)
6. Dalton Rushing, Dodgers (2025)
7. Blake Mitchell, Royals (2027)
8. Moises Ballesteros, Cubs (2026)
9. Edgar Quero, White Sox (2025)
10. Diego Cartaya, Dodgers (2025)
Complete list »
Hit: Basallo (60)
Basallo made a spectacular full-season debut at age 18 last summer, batting .313 and finishing fourth in the Minors with a 162 wRC+ while rising from Single-A to Double-A. Extremely advanced for his age, he controls the strike zone and makes a lot of hard contact.
Power: Salas, Basallo (60)
Both Salas and Basallo could be 30-homer threats in their prime, especially once they add some strength and learn to drive the ball in the air on a more regular basis. Both have quick left-handed swings, tall and projectable frames and hitting ability well beyond their years.
Run: Ford (60)
Unusual for a catcher, Ford possesses legitimate plus speed and has swiped 50 bases in 63 attempts (79 percent) in 241 pro games. His athleticism has prompted comparisons to Craig Biggio, who spent the first four big league seasons of his Hall of Fame career behind the plate.
Arm: Mitchell (70)
The eighth overall pick in the 2023 Draft as a catcher, Mitchell would have merited top-two-rounds interest as a pitcher because he had an easy delivery that produced fastballs up to 97 mph, downer curveballs and promising changeups with tumble. His plus-plus arm strength will be a useful weapon as teams are looking to steal more often these days.
Field: J. Quero (70)
Quero won a Minor League Gold Glove in 2023 and it was well deserved. His receiving, framing and blocking skills rank among the best in the Minors and are very advanced for a 21-year-old.
Highest ceiling: Salas
Salas held his own as a 17-year-old who rocketed to Double-A in his pro debut, and he has the chance to have four plus or better tools while staying behind the plate. One club told the Padres that given his age and upside, their analysts viewed Salas as the most valuable talent in the game -- in the Majors or Minors.
Highest floor: J. Quero
Quero's defense is so good that it alone virtually guarantees him a long career as at least a backup. He's also a career .278/.349/.445 hitter in three pro seasons despite consistently being one of the youngest players in his leagues, so he should provide enough offense to be at least a solid regular.
Rookie of the Year candidate: J. Quero
Quero is the only one of our Top 10 catchers projected to reach the Majors in 2024, so he's the obvious choice here. His defense is ahead of his offense, so he's not likely to make a strong push for ROY honors.
Highest riser: Basallo
Entering the 2023 season, Basallo had yet to play full-season ball and ranked 12th in a deep Orioles system. Now he's regarded as having one of the highest offensive ceilings in the Minors and will place nearly as high on our soon-to-be-released 2024 Top 100.
Humblest beginning: E. Quero
Neither Quero signed for big money on the international market, with Jeferson turning pro for $200,000 out of Venezuela in 2019 and Edgar receiving the same bonus out of Cuba two years later. Jeferson's defensive upside was obvious at the same stage, so Edgar gets the nod in this category.
Most to prove: Cartaya
After winning Dodgers Minor League Player of the Year honors in 2022 with an .892 OPS and 22 homers between two Class A stops at age 20, Cartaya seemed poised to succeed the graduating Alvarez as the best catching prospect in baseball. Instead, he hit .189/.278/.379 in Double-A, raising huge concerns about his bat.
Keep an eye on: Austin Wells, Yankees
With Kyle Higashioka heading to the Padres in the Juan Soto trade, Wells should share Yankees catching duties with Jose Trevino in an offense/defense platoon. A well-rounded hitter who comes with questions about his receiving and throwing, he slashed .238/.332/.449 with 21 homers between four levels a year ago, including four homers in 19 games with New York.