There are very few difference makers at the catcher position in the major leagues right now. But that could soon change, especially with a deep and talented group of catchers eligible for the 2020 MLB draft.
Although the prospects are young and have years of development in front of them, the 2020 MLB draft class presents players with high-end potential at the catcher position.
Over the last 10 years, teams haven’t had success drafting catchers in the first round. In that time span, there have been 16 college and 15 prep players drafted as catchers in the first round. Of those 31 players, only Yasmani Grandal, who attended the University of Miami, has developed into an all-star catcher after being a first-round pick.
In the 2020 MLB draft class, there are numerous players who have the skills and potential to change that trend. Here are four catching prospects to watch in the months leading up to the 2020 MLB draft that could hear their names called in the first round:
Drew Romo, The Woodlands High School (Texas)
Drew Romo, who’s 6-foot-1, 205 pounds, is arguably the top catching prospect in the 2020 MLB draft class. The prep backstop has elite defensive skills, possessing a strong arm that consistently produces 1.94 to 1.98 pop times in game action, polished footwork and soft hands. He’s a defensive-first catcher but has improved his skills at the plate as a switch-hitter and profiles at the very least as an average offensive threat in the professional ranks.
Tyler Soderstrom, Turlock High School (Calif.)
Tyler Soderstrom had a standout summer that has him in the discussion as the top catcher in the 2020 MLB draft class. The 6-2, 190-pound high school senior is a well-rounded catcher. He consistently barrels up pitches from the left side of the plate and has the intangibles to grow into a respectable defensive catcher. He displays athleticism and a strong arm behind the plate.
His father, Steve, was the sixth overall pick in the 1993 MLB draft and pitched briefly in the major leagues.
Patrick Bailey, North Carolina State
Patrick Bailey, who’s 6-2 and 204 pounds, is a switch-hitter who presents solid power from both sides of the plate. Defensively, Bailey has solid arm strength and receiving and blocking skills.
He hit .321 with 13 home runs and 40 RBIs in 187 at-bats as a freshman in 2018. He returned as a sophomore last year and posted a .288 batting average with 10 home runs and 46 RBIs in 236 at-bats. He struck out 43 times and drew 41 walks last season.
Austin Wells, Arizona
Austin Wells, who’s 6-1 and 200 pounds, showed impressive skills as a freshman at Arizona this spring. He has notable raw power from the left handed side of the plate, consistently squares up pitches, possesses athleticism in all facets of the game and has a strong arm and quick release defensively.
Wells earned Pac-12 Freshman of the Year after hitting .353 with five home runs and 60 RBIs in 221 at-bats last season. The left-handed hitter showed a notable approach as the plate, especially for a freshman, drawing 46 walks while striking out 43 times.
Wells is a draft-eligible sophomore. If he can duplicate his freshman season and refine his skills behind the plate, he will enhance his value and potentially be the top catcher in the 2020 MLB draft class.
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for five years. He’s interviewed 191 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he’s appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.