Chase Vallot, photo courtesy of KyForward
Greetings, This is the second of two articles highlighting the best hitting catchers in the Sally in 2015. Yesterday I covered Aramis Garcia (Giants prospect), Dom Nunez (Rockies prospect and Jose Trevino (Rangers prospect). Today I want to talk about Chase Vallot (Royals prospect), Yermin Mercedes (Orioles Prospect) and Arturo Rodriguez (Marlins prospect)
Whenever I do a prospect list it’s for fantasy purposes, so I won’t go into great detail about the players defensive prowess, only whether or not the player has the tools to stay at their current position. I go into more detail with scouting reports.
Chase Vallot– Lexington (Royals) Age 18 (for a couple of more days), 6′ 215 lbs, bats and throws right
Vallot was drafted 40th overall in the 2014 draft. He’s a big strong kid with plus power potential as evidenced by his .197 ISO against significantly older competition this season.
What I like about him is he uses a short quick swing reminiscent of Mark McGwire and the ball really jumps off of his bat. I also like that he doesn’t hit many balls on the ground (Just 25%) of his batted balls this season have been grounders. As he ages and gets stronger that’s really going to play in his favor.
What he’s currently struggling with is contact and pitch recognition, his 38% K rate has to improve also there’s work to be done if he’s going to stay behind the plate but that’s often the case with prep catchers.
Vallot probably won’t be a fast mover, the power is intriguing. If he’s able to improve the contact rate maybe he has 250 18-24 HR upside, high risk here though. Here’s good look at the Chase Vallot swing, courtesy of minor league baseball
Yermin Mercedes- Delmarva (Orioles) Age 22, He’s listed at 5’11” 175, he’s not 175, on the video he looks more like 200 or 210. Bats and throws right.
Mercedes has an interesting back story he was signed by the Washington Nationals as an 18 year old and stayed home in Dominican Summer League where he played for 3 seasons after which he was cut by the team despite a .296/.357/.383. His numbers in the third season were down from the first two but that seems babip related as he still made plenty of contact. His power did evaporate though. In 2014 he lit up independent ball and the Orioles came calling.
Mercedes showed up in Delmarva at the end of May and after a decent June he’s been on a tear the last six weeks , hitting .312/.335/.534 with six of his eight home runs coming during this stretch. He goes up the middle and the other way a lot but nearly all of his over the fence power to this point has been to his pull side. His low walk totals would suggest he’s an aggressive hitter. I have to admit I haven’t seen him play in person yet, I was looking for an article to link to here but there doesn’t appear to be one out there. Here’s a good look at his swing, he appears to have plenty of bat speed. Video courtesy of Floyd Cruz
Arturo Rodriguez– Greensboro (Marlins) Age 23, 6′ 235 lbs, bats and throws right.
Another interesting back story, Rodriguez played in the Mexican league for three years before signing with the Marlins after the 2014 season. At 23 he’s a little old for the level but not by much. He isn’t catching full time as he gets just as many starts at first base and DH as he does behind the plate. In fact despite being with the team all season he’s caught just 39 of the teams 120 games. So there is some question whether or not he’ll be a catcher if/when he makes it to the show.
Rodriguez is a big strong guy and he’s already shown he can hit the ball out of the park to all fields. He’s an aggressive hitter with a big swing, good bat speed and excellent barrel control. His contact rate for a big man is insane reminisent of “El Caballo” Carlos Lee. He’s sporting a .148 ISO this season which is decent but should be higher for a guy with his power. The culprit here is the 41% ground ball rate. His swing has plenty of lift, if he were to tone down the aggressiveness a little bit and worked his way into better counts. Here’s a good look at Rodriguez’s swing courtesy of shinos000.
There are a lot of interesting specs at the catching position in the low minors. In addition to these six Jordan Procyshen, Ben Moore, Jairo Rosario and Marcus Greene are all interesting.