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MLB draft 2017: Angels farm depth report - Catchers

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Can haz more catchers!!

Minor League Baseball: Arizona Fall League-Glendale Desert Dogs at Scottsdale Scorpions Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The MLB draft is about 1 month away, so we’ll be taking look at the Angels farm system. Jokes aside - where are they strong? Where are they weak? And of course, we need to start with the most important position - Catcher (okay maybe one more joke).

Seriously though, more catchers isn’t really bad thing. At the moment, Taylor Ward is the sole standout behind the plate with a future as a regular big league starter. The rest of these guys, if they make the big leagues, will likely serve as backups and depth (Hi Juan Graterol and Carlos Perez!).

Given the state of the Angels farm system over the past few years, it will be no surprise to find few standouts in the following list. I’ll do my best at putting them in order of MLB likelihood.

With a lack of strong prospects at the lower levels, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Angels take a strong prep catcher in the draft. They probably don’t need a college guy who’s ready sooner unless they plan to move him to a new position (like 3B).

Big League Guys

Martin Maldanado, 30
B-T: R-R
Contract: 1 year / 1.73 Million

We all know the Maldanado story. He came to the Angels from the Brewers in exchange for name-favorite Jett Bandy. Maldanado came with the promise of a rocket arm and great defense and he has definitely delivered - along with a good bat (so far). Maldanado is arbitration eligible after this season, and if he keeps up what he’s doing, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him signed through 2018 since Ward may be ready until 2019.

Juan Graterol, 28
B-T: R-R
Contract: 1 year / $535,000

Graterol has been on more teams since last season that Will Ferrell in Ferrell Takes the Field. Ironically, he started and ended up on the Angels after exchanging hands what seemed like about a half dozen times. He’s under team control for a couple more season but has a pretty limited future as a regular big league catcher.

Major League Ready:

Carlos Perez, 23
Drafted: Signed as an International free agent in 2008 by the Blue Jays
B-T: R-R
Contract: 1 year / $548,000
Current Level: AAA
MLB ETA: Been there done that

Perez struggled enough at the MLB level this year that the Angels went out and signed a free agent catcher to replace him and then sent him down to AAA. Of course with the signing of Martin Maldanado, Perez was relegated to occasional backup duties which probably didn’t help him at the plate. As a mediocre pitch framer who does have a good arm, and a weak bat, Perez probably doesn’t have a bright future in an organization that values catching tools.

Tony Sanchez, 28
Drafted: 1st Round, 2009 (PIT)
B-T: R-R
Current Level: AAA
MLB ETA: Been there done that

Sanchez was signed as a free agent this off season to replace catching depth at the AAA level. The bonus is that he DOES have 51 games of MLB experience. Sanchez is a decent hitter with a .259 average at the MLB level in 143 AB, but like Perez and Graterol, he probably doesn’t fit well into the Angels’ future plans.

Near Future Major League Ready:

Taylor Ward, 23
Drafted: 1st Round, 2015
B-T: R-R
Current Level: A+
MLB ETA: late 2018

Taylor Ward is the next best thing to Jett Bandy (too soon?) in the Angels system. He’s currently playing in A+ and should see a call up to AA this year. Previously he had been expected to see AAA late in 2017, but he spent the month of April on the DL which sets him back a bit and may hold him to AA this year.

Michael Barash, 22
Drafted: 9th Round, 2016
B-T: R-R
Current Level: A+
MLB ETA: 2019

Barash has been given the bulk of playing time behind the plate this year due to Genao and Ward being on the DL but that will change now that Ward is back. In his first season he hit .276/.348/.386 across rookie and A ball. He’s a solid catcher with a strong arm and good enough bat to at least succeed at the minor league level. Barash is back-logged behind Taylor Ward at the moment but probably has some future at the major league level at least as a backup catcher (to maybe Taylor Ward)


Probably Major League Some Day:

Jose Briceno, 24
Drafted: Signed as an International free agent in 2008 by the Rockies
B-T: R-R
Current Level: AA
MLB ETA: 2019

Briceno was an organizational All Star for Colorado back in 2014. He has average catching skills with an above average arm. Once upon a time (back in 2014) he was given a 60 grade on his power and arm with an average hit tool. He had a short stint in AAA last year but landed back in AA. He probably has a future as a backup catcher and has been serving as the primary catcher for the BayBears.

MLB Backup/Depth as Ceiling:

Wade Wass, 25
Drafted: Signed as undrafted free agent in 2014
B-T: R-R
Current Level: AA

Wass had a pretty low ceiling when acquired mainly for depth back in 2014. He’s shown some improvement behind the plate and in his weak spot - hitting - has impressed and improved enough for the organization to notice. Wass has almost as many games in the OF this year than at catcher. His ceiling is probably MLB/AAA depth.

Francisco Arcia, 27
Drafted: Signed as an International free agent in 2007 (age 16) by the Yankees
B-T: L-R
Current Level: AA

Arcia is getting old enough to question whether he will ever be a big league starting catcher. The Yankees used to have high hopes for him but they also had a plethora of catching talent in the minors. His ceiling is probably minor league depth or a backup catcher at this point.

Angel Genao, 24
Drafted: International free agent in 2013
B-T: R-R
Current Level: A+

Genao has been on the DL and has yet to play this year. In 2016 he hit .219/.282/.299 across rookie and A ball. He is (surprise) known more for his defensive skills. He’s going to need a lot of growth before he could reach the MLB level.

Brennan Morgan, 23
Drafted: 24th Round, 2016
B-T: R-R
Current Level: A

Morgan hit .277/.376/.419 in Orem last season and is off to a good start for Burlington with a .308/.385/.462. However, he has ONLY been playing 1B this year, so seems to be converting away from the catcher role which he only played half time in 2016.

Jeyson Sanchez, 22
Drafted: International free agent in 2013
B-T: R-R
Current Level: A

Sanchez has played all over the field - C, 1B, and 3B this year and he played some OF in 2014. His future looks more like a utility piece than a regular catcher if he can make the big leagues.