The catching position in today’s game is an afterthought for the most part. The catcher very rarely decides the outcome of games these days, and even the defensive wizards like Yadier Molina have become increasingly slimmer in number. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to the future at the position.
We have broken down both the World and US team’s prospects in the outfield and the infield for Sunday’s Futures Game over the past two days. Today, we turn our attention to the backstop and four players that are having sensational seasons.
The World team is armed behind the plate with the most familiar face at the position. Gary Sanchez may be only 23 years old, but he already has accomplished about all one can in the minor leagues over his seven-year career. One could make the argument that if it weren’t for Brian McCann’s lofty contract in New York, Sanchez could have been starting for the better part of two seasons now.
Sanchez was signed by the Yankees all the way back in 2009 out of the Dominican Republic and debuted the following season at the age of 17. He spent the first few years second-fiddle to Jesus Montero as the Yankees catcher of the future. He was also a superstar, not merely one of the Yankees top prospects, but a top-100 prospect in baseball for the past five seasons. The only question marks he had were in his catching skills and maturity, especially after being suspended in 2014 for his attitude.
Last season silenced critics. Sanchez earned his first Futures Game appearance and shined in the Arizona Fall League, taking home Rising Star MVP honors and finally earning a brief taste of the big leagues. This year has been more of the same, as he is slashing .281/.321/.487 with nine home runs and 18 doubles. Runners can still attack Sanchez, but he continues to improve, throwing out 38 percent of his runners (up three percent from last year’s breakout) and he has made just two errors on the season behind a .995 fielding percentage.
Joining Sanchez behind the plate is the lesser-known Indians catching prospect, Francisco Mejia. Just 20 years old, Mejia’s 2016 season has put him from question mark to one of the premier catching prospects in all of baseball.
To find out more about Mejia as well as what the US catchers have in store, head on over to Today’s Knuckleball for my full article by clicking on the link below!