Banfield was the 69th overall pick in this June’s draft, and he passed on his Vanderbilt commitment to take a well over-slot $1.8M bonus from the Marlins. Advanced defense at catcher with some power potential were Banfield’s calling cards as an amateur, and he showed both of those skills across a three-game look in August.
Unlike many prep catching prospects, there’s little doubt that Banfield will remain at the position. His 6-foot and 200-pound frame is strong and compact, well-built to handle the physical rigors of catching. He sets low, quiet targets and shows agile blocking ability and an idea how to frame pitches. Banfield’s actual receiving was a bit stiff and stabby at times, but nothing looked too severe and he projects to clean up his hands at catcher with more pro reps and instruction. The arm is easily above-average, if not true plus, and though I didn’t see it challenged much, there’s strong carry through the target with polished footwork and good accuracy.
At the plate, Banfield’s muscularity and aggressive uphill swing produce power at the expense of contact. He’s strong enough to drive a mistake over the plate, and his three homeruns through 40 plate appearances with Greensboro show that he will have no issue getting to his pop against low-minors pitching. That said, Banfield’s pitch recognition and selectivity need significant improvement to hit in pro ball, as he frequently expands the zone and whiffs badly through secondary pitches. It isn’t a shock to see an 18-year-old looked overmatched against full-season pitching, but he’s a 20-grade hitter right now and will take time to develop more contact ability.
Especially as a catching prospect, Banfield will take time. He might always come with strikeouts and lower batting averages, but the ingredients are here for a solid everyday backstop if he can tap into his power. Banfield’s polished defensive tools are enough to get him to the big leagues even if the bat stalls.