Reese Kaplan -- Trading for Top Catching Prospects


I recently wrote a column about trades in which you often get prospect for proven player changing hands, or sometimes you get veteran for veteran to address positional needs or sometimes simply a swap of bad contracts.  Perhaps rarer than that is the top prospect for top prospect type of trade in which one club sends off a player with great potential to another club who is asked to do the same.  The Mets are in that possible position right now with Pete Alonso coming off an eye popping season of 38 HRs and 119 RBIs (best in all of minor league baseball) but they are also deep in the 1st base position. Would they risk sending a high profile but mostly one-dimensional player to another club to sure up a position of need such as catcher?  Let’s take a look at some of the top catcher prospects out there and see if any float your boat.

Franciso Mejia

The heretofore thought untouchable Mejia went from Cleveland to San Diego in the Indians’ push for the playoffs as they felt pitcher Brad Hand could push them over the top.  Granted, the two-time All Star was having a great season for the Padres, but his overall body of work – 18-38 with a 3.76 ERA and 55 saves for the 28 year old seemed to pale next to that of Jeurys Familia who offered up a career 17-19 mark with a 2.76 ERA and 124 saves at the same age.  The Mets got two injured players with mediocre stats for him.  Well, that’s water under the John Ricco bridge, so let’s get back to what the Padres received.  The switch hitting Mejia set a modern minor league record with a 50-game hitting streak and for his minor league career is a .293 hitter with 54 HRs and 313 RBIs along with 18 SBs.  He rarely strikes out and his power has increased each year.  He also has a rifle of an arm that I can attest to personally having seen him multiple times against the 51s.  Jim Callis of MLB.com has him ranked as the number one catching prospect in all of baseball. 

Jorge Alfaro

A guy who is a defense-first catcher with not-too-shabby offensive numbers, Alfaro didn’t win the gig outright for the Phillies this year who acquired Wilson Ramos mid-season to aid in their ill-fated race for the pennant.  In parts of three seasons with the Phillies over 467 ABs he’s hit .270 with 15 HRs and 51 RBIs plus 3 SBs.  Alfaro is said to have plus-plus arm strength as well.  If for some reason Ramos sticks around Philly, he might be available. 

Jake Rogers

The Detroit Tigers thought very highly of him as he was part of the package they received from the Astros in the Justin Verlander deal.  He’s thrown out an impressive 46% of would-be base stealers.  Offensively he’s a work in progress.  He’s shown good power but not much in the way of average.  In 900+ minor league ABs he has 38 HRs and 142 RBIs but just a .240 AVG.  He’ll likely start the year in AA. 

Keibert Ruiz

The baby of the bunch, Ruiz is just 19 but has already accumulated over 1100 ABs and is hitting .309.  More importantly, in all of those plate appearances he’s fanned just 128 times.  This past year in AA was his best power output – 12 HRs – but his average dipped to .268.  Remember, however, the switch hitting Ruiz is 4.5 years younger than his league competitors. 

Chance Sisco

Before there was Francisco Mejia, Chance Sisco was the catching bat people raved about.  The lefty-hitting Sisco is a .306 career hitter in the minors but without much pop.  He’s got line drive power to all fields and has hit opposite field home runs.  However, he’s not regarded as a good defender and his footwork makes his already suspect throwing arm that much more vulnerable. 

Victor Caratini

Another guy sure to hit singles and doubles is Victor Caratini of the Cubs.  He’s a .290 career hitter in the minors and is currently blocked by Willson Contreras, so prying him loose may not require an Alonso. 

Zack Collins

He’s ascended as high as AA and shows surprisingly strong eye at the plate for someone with as much raw power as he has.  This past season, for example, he walked over 100 times while still hitting 15 HRs and driving in 68.  His career minor league average is a pedestrian .232, so whether or not he can translate his good eye into more hits or he develops more power will determine if he can succeed at the major league level.  I’m thinking he’s a Todd Frazier type offensively. 

Danny Jansen

For people who have a soft spot for the oddly bespectacled Jason Phillips, Jansen may warm the cockles of your heart.  He’s got a little bit of everything – some power, some batting prowess (improving at the upper levels of the minors) and a good eye.  For his minor league career he has 1282 ABs with 33 HRs, 196 RBIs and a .269 AVG (though in 2017 he batted .323 and this past year .275 in AAA).

Sean Murphy

Having thrown out 33% of base stealers, he would be a revelation to Mets fans who’ve endured the less than stellar arms of Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki.  He’s hit fairly well of late in the minors, with a .288 batting average in 2018 in AA to go along with 8 HRs and 43 RBIs over 257 ABs (about half a season). 

Of course, there’s always J.T. Realmuto…


Eddie Corona said...

Hey Reese
This was a good thought but would have been good to list all the organizations that they are from. Like the Detroit kid would be hard to pry since they are in a rebuild. But not knowing all the others makes for wondering if they are possible

I do question Mejia since a stud catcher is impossible to find how was he traded and then why hasn’t he stuck at the position
What could be the reason he is not in the majors

Mack Ade said...

We all know what my response is going to be here.

Any trade that didn't include Realmuto would be inadequate.

I don't expect this kind of deal to be made and I would not give up the house for anyone else via a trade.

Mejia would be a close 2nd though I can't see San Diego parting with him.

A name out of the past... Chance Sisco... boy, I though he would be great in this game.

Free agent wise, everyone is 30+

I'm getting depressed.

Seattle Steve said...

This team is already offensively challenged and to trade Big Pete at this time would be a big mistake unless we got someone like Realamuto.

Anthony Carnacchio said...

Keep Alonso

TexasGusCC said...

I think we can get a buffer for two or three years like Ramos or Grandal, and then turn it over to Madeira. He is improving his defense and has always raked. There lot of catching behind him in the low minors for backups. No sense in giving away the farm for prospects. Before anyone tells me that his offense fell off, he was hurt a little and also did alot of work on his diffense. But, check his numbers the last five weeks when he had gotten healthier and they let him go back to his offense. Plus, he threw out 33%.

Tom Brennan said...

I really would hesitate to trade Alonso - if the Mets were stacked with right hitters, maybe, but the Mets are not. He'd add great power and balance - and Jeff McNeil would have to help him on right side of IF defense.

Reese, what catcher deal (if any) would you actually propose?

Personally, I'd be OK with Mesoraco and Plawecki in 2019 - if we can build a pen that will go from 5.00 ERA to 3.50...and hope SOMEONE in the Mets minors develops by 2020.

Mack Ade said...

2020 free agents -

Alex Avila (33)

Welington Castillo (33) – $8MM club option with a $500K buyout

Jason Castro (33)

Francisco Cervelli (34)

Travis d’Arnaud (31)

Tyler Flowers (34) – $6MM club option with a $2MM buyout

Yan Gomes (32) – $9MM club option with a $1MM buyout

Chris Herrmann (32)

Chris Iannetta (37) – $4.25MM club option with a $750K buyout

Erik Kratz (40)

Russell Martin (37)

Austin Romine (31)

Mack Ade said...

Anthony -

I know Thomas' thoughts on this...

Why do you want to keep a Dave Kingman type first baseman that can't field, run, or throw?

Reese Kaplan said...

Dave Kingman (minus the personality disorder) is a pretty good analogy, but if Alonso had Kingman's career we'd all be whining at an Amos Otis/Nolan Ryan level if we traded him away. Besides, I think Alonso will probably be more of a .266 type hitter which, had Kingman accomplished that instead of his .236, might have had people talking of Cooperstown.

Reese Kaplan said...

@Eddie Corona -- Mejia is just 22 years old. That is why he's not yet been handed the full time starting gig. Think how long the Mets, for example, wait on their prospects before giving them a 2-week trial and declaring them failures (sometimes even less than that -- ask Luis Guillorme and Gavin Cecchini).

TexasGusCC said...

Why is Alonso being compared to Kong? Kong struck out 24% of the time, Alonso is usually in the teens. In fact, when looking at Kingman's numbers, the years he struck out less, his batting average was higher! In Vegas, Alonso went up to 26% and I'd keep him in AAA to impress upon him the importance of hitting the ball because I know that with his strength the homeruns will come.

As for players that weren't quite adept defensively when they came up but they worked on it, I offer some names:

Wade Boggs, Tony Gwynn, George Brett, Albert Pujols, Michael Piazza, Pedro Guerrero, Ryne Sandberg, Tony Perez, Gary Sanchez (would you like him in your lineup?), Darren Daulton, Xander Boegarts, Paul O'Neill, Cal Ripken...

What did all these players have in common? They were not good defensive players when they first came up, but they worked and worked on their defense and I know some of these won a gold glove. I specifically remember an interview with possibly my most beloved player ever, Tony Gwynn, talking about how much work he put in to improve defensively. How are we to know or speculate how much heart Peter Alonso has and how much pride he will have to make himself better?

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