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MLB draft 2018: Angels farm depth report - Catchers

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The Angels are a bit short on solid catching prospects

MLB: Los Angeles Angels-Media Day
Jack Kruger
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The MLB draft is about 3 weeks away, so we’ll be taking look at the Angels farm system. Where are they strong? Where are they weak? And of course, we need to start with the most important position - Catcher. Amirite???

Seriously though, more catchers isn’t really bad thing. Last year, Taylor Ward was the best thing the Angels had to an heir apparent but he has since moved to 3rd base. Now what?

Given the state of the Angels farm system in the pre-Eppler 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 a strong prospect in the system, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Angels nab a catcher in the early rounds (1-3) of this draft. They currently don’t have a single catcher on their top prospect list.

Also of note, is that it’s hard to find framing data, etc. from minor league catchers so most of the info below is based on scouting reports, batting, and caught stealing rates.

Big League Guys

Martin Maldanado, 31
B-T: R-R
Contract: 1 year / 3.9 Million

The Angels REALLY like Maldanado and based on his 2018 results, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him come back on another one or even two year deal given the lack of foreseeable replacements in the system.

Rene Rivera, 34
B-T: R-R
Contract: 1 year / 2.8 Million

Rivera is on his 3rd team in the past two seasons but has found his gig as a the Angels backup catcher - for now. He’ll be 35 this season so It’s not real clear if he’d be back next year at this point.

Major League Ready:

Juan Graterol, 28
B-T: R-R
Current Level: AAA

Graterol gets around. Have you seen his frequent flier miles? The Angels reacquired him (fr the 3rd time) in April when the Blue Jays DFA’d him. He’s good depth for the Angels and had a hit in his one big league at bat, but he’s not much more than a depth piece.

Near Future Major League Ready:

Jose Briceno, 25
Drafted: Signed as an International free agent in 2008 by the Rockies
B-T: R-R
Current Level: AAA
MLB ETA: 2019

Briceno was an organizational All Star for Colorado back in 2014. He has average catching skills with an above average arm. He threw out 41% of runners over two levels in 2017 and so far in 2018, also has a 41% caught stealing rate. His bat is not his best asset and he is hitting .257 with 5 home runs for Salt Lake. He probably has a future as a backup catcher and has been spitting time with Juan Graterol.

Probably Major League Some Day:

Michael Barash, 23
Drafted: 9th Round, 2016
B-T: R-R
Current Level: AA
MLB ETA: Late 2019

Barash is getting most of the catching time for the BayBears this year thanks to Taylor Ward moving to 3rd base. He’s a solid catcher with a strong arm and good enough bat to at least succeed at the minor league level. His trajectory had been as a back catcher behind Ward, but at the moment he’s the best shot at a near future Maldanado replacement. However, his bat as not been strong and he’s only thrown out 17% of runners this year and 24% in 2017. If this is the best catching prospect at the higher levels, the Angels have some work to do

MLB Backup/Depth as Ceiling:

Wade Wass, 26
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 - but both are still in need of improvement. His ceiling is probably MLB/AAA depth.

Francisco Arcia, 28
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 and with Wass and Barash as teammates, he’s not getting much time behind the plate. His ceiling is probably minor league depth or a backup catcher at this point.

Angel Genao, 25
Drafted: International free agent in 2013
B-T: R-R
Current Level: A+

Genao hasn’t played since 2016 and I wasn’t able to find out much more information.

Jack Kruger, 23
Drafted: 20th round, 2016
B-T: R-R
Current Level: A+

Kruger has been a pretty average hitter (though was drafted for his bat) with a .254/.325/.348 slashline and 7 home runs over 162 minor league games. So far in 2018 he’s off to a .349 OBP with 2 home runs over 28 games. Kruger is solid but perhaps not remarkable behind the plate at this point and has a 29% career caught stealing rate. It’s a bit too early in his development to know his true ceiling and 2018 could be pretty telling as his first full season in pro ball (he played 91 games in 2017).

Julian Leon, 22
Drafted: International free agent in 2012 (LAD)
B-T: R-R
Current Level: A+

Just over a year ago, he was ranked #95 in the Dodgers system (I kid you not). He’s in the Angels org now and I guess the positive is that he is young band still has time to develop. He’s currently hitting only .179 for the 66ers but has a .361 OBP.

Franklin Navarro, 23
Drafted: International free agent in 2011 (DET)
B-T: S-R
Current Level: A+

Navarro doesn’t project as a regular big league starter. The Angels signed him as a minor league free agent at the start of the 2017 season. His power hasn’t really developed with just 11 home runs in 254 games and he has a career .303 OBP. Over his career he has a 29% caught stealing rate.

Harrison Wenson, 23
Drafted: 24th round, 2017
B-T: R-R
Current Level: A

When drafted, Wenson was known for his power and defense behind the plate, as well as strong leadership skills. He knocked 13 home runs over 36 games in rookie ball last year but is off to a slow .128 AVG start in 2018 (but he does have 3 home runs). The power is there and he has a nice K to BB ratio as well. Couple his power and catching skills with a 29% caught stealing rate and he will be one to watch rise through the system.

Keinner Pina, 21
Drafted: International free agent in 2013
B-T: R-R
Current Level: A

Pina hit .292 with a .388 OBP last year in hitter friendly Orem. Now that he’s moved up to A ball that’s slowed to a .292 and .299 clip but it’s still early. He has a very impressive 39% caught stealing rate over his career. He’s a youngster, having turned 21 just before the start of the season so has a few years to develop into something the Angels need.