2018 MLB Draft Positional Previews: Catcher

Anthony Seigler plays in the 2017 Area Code Games on August 6-10, 2017 at Blair Field in Long Beach, California (Bill Mitchell)

Featured Photo: Anthony Seigler, C, Cartersville (Cartersville, Ga.)

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Positional Preview Series

Catcher | Middle Infield | Corner Infield
Center Field | Corner Outfield
Left-Handed Pitcher | Right-Handed Pitcher

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(Potential Day 1 Targets)

Joey Bart, C, Georgia Tech
Ht/Wt: 6’3”/225           B/T: R/R          Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 21y, 5m

In a down year for catchers, Bart has established himself as the top backstop in the class by a substantial margin. An aggressive hitter, Bart attacks balls in the strike zone with bat speed and leverage capable of producing plus power to all fields. Bart has shown marked improvement in his approach this season, displaying feel for the strike zone and nearly doubling his walk rate from 7.69 to 14.91 year-over-year, while simultaneously cutting down on his strikeouts. Defensively, Bart has made strides throughout his collegiate career, quieting his receiving and showing adequate footwork behind the dish. Bart calls his own games for the Yellow Jackets, a rarity in the in the college game. His arm has always been strong, consistently production pop times in the 1.85-to-1.90 range. Leveraging a premium on college bats, especially those that can remain up the middle, Bart figures to come off the board within the first 10 picks.

Anthony Seigler, C, Cartersville (Cartersville, Ga.)
Ht/Wt: 5’11”/195          B/T: S/R          Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 18y, 11m

When not catching, Seigler shines as an ambidextrous pitcher on the mound and would likely be a two-way player should he follow through on his commitment to the University of Florida. Professionally, he’s a better prospect behind the plate where he balances defensive athleticism and offensive polish. Among his prep peers within this catching class, Seilger doesn’t offer the top shelf power upside of Naylor or the defensive polish of Banfield, but he’s more balanced and consistent than both of them. A switch hitter, Seigler has a compact stoke, with a bat path that is direct to the baseball that produces line drives to all fields with extra base power emerging throughout the spring. If there is a deficiency in Seigler’s game, it’s a question around how much power he’ll ultimately produce as a professional, but given his solid frame and bat speed there is room for at least average playable pop to develop. Given the diverse upside of what Seigler can provide both with the glove and bat, it appears increasingly likely that he’ll come off the board on the first day, and perhaps as high as the top 20 overall picks.

Noah Naylor, C/3B, St. Joan of Arc (Mississauga, Ont.)
Ht/Wt: 6’0”/200            B/T: R/L           Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 18y, 3m

The younger brother of Padres’ prospect Josh Naylor, Noah flashes above-average raw power with the help of a strong lower half and quick hands. He controls the barrel through the zone, routinely barreling balls to all fields. Behind the dish, Naylor has an above-average arm with carry to second base, though his receiving needs refinement and his inconsistent catch-and-throw footwork can lead to balls sailing on him. Catching a new pitcher each inning in an all-star game environment is no easy task, and Naylor struggled to live up to the challenge on a couple of occasions last summer. He mixed some time at third base at the Area Code Games, performing adequately and offering evaluators with a glimpse of a contingency plan should he not be able to remain behind the plate or should they wish to push the bat aggressively through the minors without worrying about refining the defense behind the dish. Power at the catching position comes at a premium, and as such, Naylor has garnered some first round buzz, making it unlikely he’ll follow through on his commitment to Texas Tech.

Will Banfield, C, Brookwood (Snellville, Ga.)
Ht/Wt: 6’0”/200            B/T: R/R          Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 18y, 6m
Video | Video 2 | Video 3 

An advanced prep receiver, Banfield has plenty of experience handling premium velocity as the travel ball battery-mate of blue chip pitching prospects Ethan Hankins and Kumar Rocker for Georgia-based Team Elite. A Vanderbilt commit, he moves well behind the dish, smothering balls in the dirt and framing those on the corners. Banfield has a plus arm that he likes to show off, displaying confidence to throw behind runners at any base. The question surrounding the Vandy commit is how well he’ll hit professionally. Though he’s got bat speed to spare and above-average raw power, he fails to square balls consistently and didn’t show the growth this spring that evaluators were hoping to see. With the track record for glove first prep catchers being poor, it’s possible Banfield slides far enough that ends up in Nashville where he’d be an instant contributor for the ‘Dores.



Josh Breaux, C/RHP, McLennan College (Texas)
Ht/Wt: 6’1”/220            B/T: R/R          Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 20y, 7m

One of the top junior college players in this draft class and an interesting double-plus raw power play, Breaux slashed.406/.533/.840 this season, with 18 homeruns and more walks (47) than strikeouts (31). A two-way prospect, Breaux scrapped triple digits as a pitcher this season before arm troubles ended his time on the mound. A fully-healthy Breaux could be a day 1 target, but arm/shoulder issues could land him anywhere in the top five rounds (provided he’s signable).

Grant Koch, C, Univ. of Arkansas
Ht/Wt: 6’0”/190            B/T: R/R          Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 21y, 3m
Video | Video 2

Koch stood out as one of the better all-around performers on USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team last summer, slashing .372/.500/.535 while flashing above-average arm strength behind the plate. Though his offensive production plateaued some this spring, Koch still offers an appealing mix of offensive upside and defensive aptitude. He’s handled one of the best staffs in the country with aplomb, this spring.

Hunter Feduccia, C, Louisiana State Univ.
Ht/Wt: 6’2”/183            B/T: L/R           Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 21y, 0m 

A JuCo transfer from LSU-Eunice, Feduccia has shown advanced defensive actions as the Tigers’ backstop this season. He controls the running game with a strong, accurate arm (consistent sub-2.0 pop times), and shows sound footwork behind the dish to go with quiet and firm hands. Offensively, Feduccia hasn’t hit for much power yet, but his feel for the strike zone translates to quality on base skills.

Cal Raleigh, C, Florida State Univ.
Ht/Wt: 6’3”/205            B/T: R/S          Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 21y, 6m

Highly regarded out of high school, Raleigh has made tremendous strides offensively in his junior campaign, improving his slash line from .227/.330/.398 to .330/.457/.586 year-over-year. A switch hitter with power from both sides and the requisite leadership qualities behind the plate, Raleigh has boosted his stock with a strong spring for FSU. His receiving and catch-and-throw game need refinement, but the offensive upside from a backstop could push him up boards on draft day.

Hayden Jones, C, Carroll (Ft. Wayne, Ind.)
Ht/Wt: 6’0”/200            B/T: L/R           Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 18y, 1m

Jones shows advanced skills behind the plate, including quiet hands, controlled movements and a plus or better arm that consistently produces accurate pops to second in the 1.85-1.98 range. He will need to tighten up his swing some to handle high level arms, but he already shows a high level of comfort in tracking pitches and identifying spin, and with a very low offensive bar for MLB catchers there’s enough here to warrant top five round consideration if he’s open to passing on his commitment to Mississippi State.

Austin Wells, C, Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.)
Ht/Wt: 6’2”/195           B/T: L/R           Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 18y, 11m

A product of national powerhouse Bishop Gorman, Wells is part of a banner University of Arizona recruiting class that includes potential first round selections Nolan Gorman and Matthew Liberatore. Defensively, Wells has soft hands with a quick transfer behind the plate but some work to do smoothing out his overall game, including side-to-side actions and footwork. He gets good extension with his powerful left-handed stroke and could grow into an average or better hit and power stick with continued development.

Zac Susi, C, Univ. of Connecticut
Ht/Wt: 6’1”/203            B/T: L/R           Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 21y, 7m

A polished receiver with a solid average arm, Susi performed well at the Cape with the bat this summer, slashing .267/.360/.467 with as many home runs with wood bats (three) as he hit in his first three seasons on campus (as of this writing). His durable build and advanced actions behind the plate should be highly attractive on day two of the draft, with enough strength and offensive upside to come off the board as early as the fourth to sixth round.

Kameron Ojeda Gaungorena, C, St. John Bosco (Belflower, Calif.)
Ht/Wt: 6’1”/180            B/T: L/R           Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 18y, 7m

A solid receiver with sound footwork and a strong, accurate arm, Gaungorena has the tools to remain behind the plate professionally. Ultimately, the Cal State Fullerton commit’s upside will be dictated by the development of his bat, where his smooth left-handed stroke is capable of producing average power, but it comes with some length and potential swing-and-miss issues.

Ryan Jeffers, C, Univ. of North Carolina – Wilmington
Ht/Wt: 6’4”/225            B/T: L/R           Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 21y, 0m 

The calling card for Jeffers is his right-handed power, with the big-bodied backstop racking up 16 homeruns this spring to go with a .340 ISO over 250 plate appearances. He’s an average athlete who, despite his size, shows capable enough behind the dish to get a chance to stick there at the next level, where he ultimately profiles as a back-up catcher who could also be run out as a first baseman, left fielder or designated hitter depending on how well the stick matures.

J.J. Schwarz, C/1B, Univ. of Florida
Ht/Wt: 6’1”/205            B/T: R/R          Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 22y, 3m
Video | Video 2 | Video 3

Schwarz was never able to follow-up his phenomenal freshman season where he posted a 1.027 OPS and slugged 18 homeruns, but he’s been very good as a senior, slashing .325/.404/.601 with 12 homeruns. His receiving skills have improved throughout his collegiate career, but a fringy arm could potentially push him to first base as a professional. 

Patrick Winkel, C, Amity Regional Senior (Woodbridge, Conn.)
Ht/Wt: 6’2”/187            B/T: L/R           Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 18y, 3m 

Winkel has a fluid left-handed swing, with above-average bat speed and natural loft. The Connecticut commit has an athletic frame and an average arm, giving him a chance to remain behind the plate long term as he continues to refine his receiving.

Christopher Willis, C/1B, Ruston (Ruston, La.)
Ht/Wt: 6’4”/185            B/T: L/R           Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 17y, 11m

An LSU commit, Willis is tall and lean with an exaggerated open stance that he closes in time to barrel balls into either gap. Though he’s athletic for his size with plenty of arm, Willis may profile better at an infield corner as he continues to mature physically. 

Charles Mack, SS/3B/C, Williamsville East (Williamsville, N.Y.)
Ht/Wt: 5’11”/185          B/T: L/R           Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 18y, 7m

A Clemson commit, Mack offers athleticism and defensive versatility. Though he primarily plays on the left side of the infield, some evaluators feel Mack profiles best behind the plate as a professional. In the box, he keeps a quiet head and can really drive the ball when he squares it up.

Cesar Salazar, C, Univ. of Arizona
Ht/Wt: 5’9”/190            B/T: L/R           Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 21y, 2m 

A native of Mexico, Salazar is light with the stick, profiling as a down-order contact-oriented bat with limited on-base utility due to his below-average power, which could allow pitchers to attack the zone. Defensively, however, he has incredible quickness in his lower half and through his transfer and release, allowing him to get the most out of his average to a tick-above-average arm strength. He’s a top ten round type talent who could sneak into the fourth to sixth round range thanks to his athleticism, feel, and added utility as a bilingual backstop.