With so much catching depth in the system, the San Diego Padres seem destined to make a move.
In Major League Baseball it is beneficial to have depth.
Presently, the San Diego Padres have an incredible amount of talent at the catcher’s position throughout the organization.
With three or four catchers who are Major League ready and a few more quickly developing behind them, there is a need for the Padres to make a move. The team has four men under the age of 27 with Major League experience. How many organizations can boast that about their catching crew? It seems pretty evident that the team will make a trade, and a catcher will be a part of the deal.
Let’s take a look at the Major League catchers as well as those in the system who are considered top prospects at the position.
Major League Level
The most experienced catcher on the roster, Hedges is a defensive wizard. The issue is that he simply cannot hit Major League pitching. Instead of getting better, he is falling further behind with the bat. Hedges’ swing is long, and he can get too pull happy. There is power in his bat, but the swing and miss factor to his game is simply inexcusable. Pitchers love to throw to Hedges as he does the little things to get the job done. If he can ever be just an average hitter, he could be a perennial All-Star. That is a big “if,” though.
The polar opposite of Hedges, Mejia is all bat and no glove. He has worked hard to improve in his defensive responsibilities, but will always be an offense-first catcher. Mejia has a rocket arm, arguably the strongest in the league, but he can get a bit reckless with his footwork. The framing aspect to his game also needs work. The switch-hitter can flat-out rake though and should have a long career in the majors on that fact alone. The Padres will hope the defense improves with this young backstop as he has a very high ceiling.
The left-handed-hitting Allen was considered an offensive-only catcher but has vastly improved with his receiving skills. The tall catcher has developed his framing skill and has also worked hard to be more consistent with his throws. Allen learned much from Austin Hedges this season about preparation and working with pitchers. He has excellent power and he shows a positive approach at the plate. The catcher has done all he can do in the minors and is ready for Major League action. It will be hard for him to get consistent playing time with the Padres, though.
This Venezuelan catcher has Major League experience and performed well the last two seasons in the minors. He is undoubtedly someone who is currently flying under the radar. Torrens is a player that you need to watch on an everyday basis to truly appreciate. The right-handed hitter has a compact swing and some power to his swing. Defensively, he receives the ball well and possesses a strong throwing arm. The 23-year-old works well with pitchers from all walks of life, showcasing excellent baseball communication skills.
2019 was a coming-out party for Campusano as he gained national recognition. The right-handed hitter recorded a .906 OPS in 110 games in the Cal League. He was named an All-Star and is still only 21-years-old. Campusano has an excellent defensive profile, as he is not afraid to throw behind runners where he shows a plus arm. The power is coming from the stocky catcher as he gets older. The former 2nd-round pick has demonstrated the ability to make contact and displays a plus eye at the plate. There is a lot of upside with Campusano.
Regarded for his defense, Blake Hunt is starting to swing the bat much better. The right-handed hitter is working to calm his swing and get the most out of his ability. He generally makes contact but is striving to drive the ball up the middle more. Hunt is a tremendous defender and communicator behind the plate. He works well with his pitchers and does a great job of keeping his scouting reports in order. Hunt is still only 21, and will likely get better with time. He provides the team with even more depth at the position.
22-year-old Logan Driscoll may settle in the outfield or first base when it is all said and done, but he is still regarded as a catcher. The left-handed hitter shows a fluid swing that is generally quick. There is not a lot of power in his bat, but that could come in time. Though he will never be a huge home run threat. Defensively, there are issues with his footwork and questions if he will stick at the catcher’s position moving forward.
Like Driscoll, this 22-year-old is playing multiple positions. He has a left-handed swing that generates gap power. The issue with Gatewood is his defense and the fact he has a below-average arm. He has played a lot of first base for the Padres, but could still return to the team as a catching prospect. A lot has to happen for Gatewood to move forward behind the plate, but there is still time. For now, he will occasionally catch while getting at-bats at DH or first base. Playing in the outfield is not an option for him.
With all this catching depth, it seems likely that the Padres will make a move. I would expect someone from the higher minor league level to be dealt this winter. Austin Allen or even Luis Torrens seem likely. A.J. Preller has done well to stockpile catching depth, and you can be sure he will get top-dollar when it comes time to move a prospect. This hectic winter should start very soon as the Padres search for relevancy in a very competitive NL West.