Kyle Teel has a chance to make history in June.
The state of New Jersey has never had a prep catcher drafted in the first 10 rounds of the MLB draft. Entering this spring, Teel is projected as a top-three rounds pick in June’s draft after a strong summer on the showcase circuit.
Teel is a committed to the University of Virginia. But with a strong spring, and if signability isn’t a concern, Teel should be the highest-ever drafted prep catcher in New Jersey history.
“I just love the game, and I want to become a big league baseball player,” Teel said. “That’s my motivation, and that’s what I want to do. My dad was a professional baseball player, and that’s what I’ve wanted to do since I was a little kid.”
Teel’s father Garett was a 12th-round pick by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1989 draft and spent five seasons as a minor-league catcher. He now owns Teels Baseball and Softball Training Center in New Jersey. His father’s playing and coaching experience has helped Teel throughout his development into a top prep prospect.
Teel is a 6-foot-1, 187-pound left-handed hitting prep catcher at Mahwah High.
Last summer, Teel participated in the inaugural PDP League and competed in the Area Code Games and East Coast Pro Showcase. In the East Coast Pro Showcase, Teel played every position besides pitcher. Teel willingly played the eight positions to show his versatility and athleticism to professional scouts, he said.
He played at least half his high school baseball games at shortstop last year but will mostly play catcher as a senior this spring, he said. His defensive skills behind the plate are his top traits, according to scouts. He has above-average arm strength, strong receiving skills and notable athleticism.
Although he has the tools to be a super-utility player, Teel should stick behind the plate in the future.
“I think me being a great athlete is the biggest strength in my game,” Teel said. “I feel like catcher is going to be my position. That’s where I am going to mostly play this year.”
Teel has upside offensively and hopes to show a more consistent approach this spring. He’s dedicated time this offseason to refining his mechanics to help him improve his consistency at the plate. He doesn’t currently have huge power potential, as he is more of a line-drive hitter, but he believes his power will improve as he matures physically and as a hitter.
On the showcase circuit last summer, Teel showed an ability to make adjustments and barrel up high-end pitching, which is an encouraging sign for scouts.
“I am a great hitter,” Teel said. “I think that’s my strongest area to be honest with you. I feel like that’s my best attribute. I feel like I see the ball well and have an athletic swing. I just feel like I keep improving every day.”
If Teel declines the chance to start a pro career this summer, he will head to Virginia where he’s been committed to since he was a freshman. He selected Virginia over an offer from St. John’s and interest from Duke and North Carolina, he said.
“It was one of my dream schools,” Teel said. “I went to a camp and really loved the coaches and facilities and knew they had a stadium upgrade coming. It just felt right for me with the great academics and coaching staff. I felt like I was at home.”
Read more stories on top 2020 MLB draft prospects here.
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.