The San Diego Padres have catching depth. Here is a complete look at the position.
There is no doubt that A.J. Preller thinks outside the box.
While other teams are piled into the same baseball strategy, he simply moves in another direction. In his tenure with the Padres, he has collected young catchers at an alarming rate. From selecting Blake Hunt and Luis Campusano a few selections apart early in the 2017 draft, to trading for the best catching prospect in the game (Francisco Mejia) while already having a developing young backstop in Austin Hedges. Preller simply does what he needs to do to improve this franchise.
The result is a system full of catching depth.
From the lower levels all the way to the major league level, the Padres have plenty of catchers under the age of 26. Below is a look at the Padres franchise and how they have cornered the market on viable young catchers now and in the future.
Austin Hedges– R/R 26 years old/6’1″ 206 lbs
The right-handed hitter is a defensive wizard and is really starting to improve his plate discipline. He probably will never be a .300 hitter, but there is no reason why he cannot be a very serviceable catcher in the league for a long time. He has plenty of power but can get streaky with the results he produces. At 26, there is still optimism for the team that Hedges will blossom into a real star.
Francisco Mejia– S/R 23 years old/5’10” 180 lbs
Blessed with a rocket for a right arm and plenty of power from both sides of the plate, Mejia is someone special. There are some concerns about his pitch framing abilities though, as Mejia is a small catcher and can sometimes not provide a big enough target for his pitchers. The Dominican slugger is way too young to write off any defensive concerns as more often than not, it takes time for a young player to learn that aspect of the game.
Triple-A Level/Double-A Level
Austin Allen– L/R 25 years old/6’2″ 220 lbs
This left-handed catcher has real offensive firepower and could be a fine major league hitter one day. He generates ample power and has a good approach at the plate as well. If he can improve on his defense, Allen should be considered a top prospect in the Padres system. He has worked hard on the defensive aspect of the game and is showing progression. He will need a lot of help to make it to the major leagues with the Padres, as both Mejia and Hedges have seniority over him.
Luis Torrens– R/R 22 years old/ 6’0″ 180 lbs
Former Rule-5 draft pick Luis Torrens is an impressive player in that he is only 22 and already has one year of major league service time. He spent the entire 2017 season with the Padres batting .163 in 123 at-bats. The backstop spent last year in Lake Elsinore where he put up a .727 OPS in 122 games. He played some first base for the Storm but is still considered a decent catching prospect. The right-handed hitter has a solid swing and is a very hard worker.
Marcus Greene Jr.- R/R 24 years old/5’11” 190 lbs
Greene recorded a .661 OPS in 51 games last year in Lake Elsinore. He struggled a bit with the bat, but he is still relatively young. He showed decent power in 2017 as he hit 11 homers in 84 games for the TinCaps resulting in a .826 OPS. He will need to do better against advanced pitching if he hopes to make it through the upper minor leagues. Greene is a decent receiver, but still has some minor issues to work out with his craft in order to progress.
Luis Campusano– R/R 20 years old/ 6’0″ 230 lbs
At 20, Campusano is way ahead in terms of growth at the position. He played a full season in Fort Wayne and did not seem overmatched one bit at the plate. He played in 70 games, recording a .710 OPS for the TinCaps. He is a solid defender and a great communicator. The power should come in time as he matures. He has a great catchers body and works hard on his defensive abilities. There are some concerns about his throwing arm, but they are nothing to worry too much about.
Blake Hunt– R/R 20 years old/6’3″ 185 lbs
This right-handed hitter has great size and strength. He is also a student of the game and really does his homework. A shoulder injury right after he was drafted slowed his development slightly. He has not yet played full-season ball but was locked-in at Tri-City last year. He got into a little funk at the plate about halfway through the season but worked his way out of it. He has plus power, a great arm and is agile behind the plate despite his large size. He is a good one.
Nick Gatewood– L/R 21 years old/6’1″ 190 lbs
Drafted last year out of Georgia State University in the 11th round, Gateweeod has been impressive. The left-handed hitter put up a .744 OPS between two teams last season. He has real power, but there is the thought that he might transition to first base in time. He has defensive issues, but the Padres really like his swing. There is still time for the 21-year-old to stick behind the plate, but he will need to put in a lot of effort to stay there.
Rookie/DSL and Short Season
Alison Quintero– R/R 18 years old/5’11” 195 lbs
This Venezuelan catcher is an interesting prospect. He has shown a decent bat, but with very little power. Quintero put up a .701 OPS between two teams last year. He got a taste of action in Tri-City in 2018 and should continue to develop his skills. At 18, there is still plenty of time for him to become the catcher the Padres envision.
Jonny Homza– R/R 19 years old/6′ 0″ 180 lbs
Former Alaskan’ high school baseball player Jonny Homza has been fully moved to catcher and is responding well to the position switch. He has a very nice line-drive stroke and could be a decent offensive catcher when it is all said and done. The right-handed hitter put up a .693 OPS in 44 games last year in the desert. He is still trying to polish off his skills behind the plate and will likely take just a little more time. He is still very young and there is some upside here.
Brandon Valenzuela– S/R 18 years old/6’0″ 170 lbs
Switch-hitting, Mexican catcher Brandon Valenzuela is probably someone you have not heard too much about. He has a decent upside to him as he showcases a solid swing from both sides of the plate. He put up a .702 OPS in 54 games last year in the DSL. He saw some time at first base too but looks to be able to stay at catcher as he is a decent defender.