Author's Note: Hey guys, I put up this little post over at MinorLeagueBall.com earlier today. I know it's not too sabertastic, but I thought that maybe it could interest some of you guys here that don't follow John's site.
Just to note, this list isn't exactly the culmination of hundreds of hours of work, I've just kind of slapped this together for discussion.
And as a reminder, one or two spots on a list like this doesn't exactly mean a whole lot... some of these guys are so close that there's not much to go off of other than intuition.
1. Jesus Montero, NYY
Elite bat; he's a catcher until he's quite literally no longer catching, and other bats pale in comparison to his.
2. Wil Myers, KC
Similar deal to Montero. He's not quite as good as Montero offensively, but he's far more likely to provide defensive value. The odds that he sticks at catcher are much better than Montero's, and he's far more likely to provide defensive value at another position if both of them have to move off catcher.
3. Derek Norris, WAS
I know the power is lacking, but we're talking about a guy coming off a hamate bone injury. Given his reportedly improving defense and the fact that he's putting up a .411 OBP in a supposedly awful offensive season, there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic about Norris. He could be a star if his glove is good enough.
4. Wilin Rosario, COL
An absolute rocket for an arm, and he's been flashing huge raw power at Double-A. There aren't many 21-year-old catchers that can put up a .288/.344/.562 line at that level. His upside will be limited by his lack of patience, but there's enough to like in his hitting ability, power and defense to buy into him.
5. Devin Mesoraco, CIN
Maybe the most unpredictable breakout we've seen this season. He's gone from borderline non-prospect to potential star catcher in the span of a few months, as he's continued to thrive in Double-A after his breakout in Single-A. He's got big power and he's showing some patience; Cincinnati could have an interesting situation on their hands soon with Mesoraco and 2010 first-round pick Yasmani Grandal.
6. Tony Sanchez, PIT
The lost development time from his jaw injury is going to hurt, but there was a whole lot to like about Sanchez before going down in June.
7. Carlos Perez, TOR
He's young and far from the majors, but the upside is huge given his combination of offensive and defensive skills. He's played great for short-season Auburn so far, and could emerge as the best catcher in an organization that's loaded with catching talent.
8. Travis d'Arnaud, TOR
As I just noted, Toronto's loaded with good young catching. d'Arnaud was a key part of the Halladay return package, and while he's struggled somewhat the past two months in Advanced Single-A, the reports on his defense have been solid and there's a lot to like about him as a hitter.
9. Gary Sanchez, NYY
It's not clear if h e's a catcher long-term at this point, but it's worth noting that he's been favorably compared to Montero in terms of athleticism and defensive potential. And the other nice thing is that his bat could possibly be comparable, too; Sanchez has the chance to be an impact player even if he's forced to move off the position.
10. Hank Conger, LAA
His defense will never be too good but he's proving to have what should be a strong bat for the position, with solid power and a good approach. The lack of quality defense will limit his value, but obviously he could emerge as a very strong offensive catcher. It helps that he should be MLB-ready within a year or so, too.
I'm guessing I've missed someone, so feel free to point out omissions in the comments.