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Bernie On The Scene: Catching Prospects to Watch

Bernie Pleskoff

Bernie Pleskoff

Bernie Pleskoff is a former professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners.

This week I begin a series that highlights position specific prospects. I am going to share some thoughts about prospect players I think we will be hearing about in the coming years. I'm also going to try to project a Major League arrival year for each.

They are listed in two groups. The first group includes those players I believe will have an impact on their club.

Of course, my list is not exhaustive. You may find a favorite catcher of yours is missing. Also, as time moves along, a catcher listed here may improve to become part of the impact list. In short, this is my appraisal at this point in time.

CATCHERS OF IMPACT

Mike Zunino - Mariners (2013) hits right handed

This is a barrel of the bat power hitter, and he will force the issue with Jesus Montero. Zunino is still learning the finer points of catching, and he isn't quite finished with his development. He could become a major gap and home-run hitting middle of the order bat in Seattle.

I see Zunino, a No. 1 draft pick last summer, providing a tremendous impact in a lineup that features Kendrys Morales, Michael Morse and Michael Saunders in the middle of the order.

Travis d'Arnaud - Mets (2013) hits right handed

D'Arnaud was a major component of the R.A. Dickey deal with the Mets. It was the second time he was traded. The first was as part of the Roy Halladay deal with the Phillies. His only problem is staying healthy.

D'Arnaud has pop in his bat and should hit home runs, even in a difficult hitter's park. He's a very solid defensive catcher with a fine arm. He'll be playing every day when his time comes with the Mets.

Look for him to hit for average and for power. That means he'll help you in four categories. He won't steal many bases.

Gary Sanchez - Yankees (2014) hits right handed

He's the guy the Yankees have been waiting for. He's the guy that allowed the team to trade Jesus Montero and not sign Russell Martin.

Once the club is confident he can hit major league pitching as well as handle pitchers, the job is his. He should be the team's catcher for years to come. But right now, he's still a bit raw.

Sanchez has a loud and consistent bat. He should hit for both power and average.

Christian Bethancourt - Braves (2014) hits right handed

He's known now as more of a defense-first catcher, but when I saw him in the Arizona Fall League a couple seasons back, he had a very good bat.

The emergence of Evan Gattis has impacted Bethancourt. Gattis really jumped ahead of him.

Bethancourt may become more important if and when the Braves decide to move on without Brian McCann. Bethancourt is already on the 40-man roster. Having Gattis around just gives Bethancourt more development time, which he needs.

Austin Hedges - Padres (2014) hits right handed

This guy has pop in his bat and he can flat out hit, but the club already has Yasmani Grandal. A team can't have too many good catchers.

Hedges has the ability to drive in runs. Especially playing in that big park with huge gaps.

Tommy Joseph - Phillies (2014) hits right-handed

A former second-round pick of the Giants, Joseph can also play first base, and so his versatility allows him to be more valuable to his club. He was traded to Philadelphia in the Hunter Pence deal. That alone means he'll play as the team has to show the trade was valid.

He's the catcher of the future if the club can't afford to re-sign Carlos Ruiz.

Joseph can hit big league pitching, but he isn't quite as consistent as he should be when his development is finished.

Stryker Trahan - Diamondbacks (2016) hits left handed

This is the catcher of the future for the D-Backs. The problem? The catcher of the present - Miguel Montero - is pretty darn good and he's signed long term.

Like Montero, Trahan hits left-handed.

Right now, he is a bat-first catcher, which is good for fantasy players. He won't advance to the big league club until his defense catches up, but keep your eye on his progress. He's a good one.

He was a first-round draft choice out of high school and he'll move right along in the farm system.

Blake Swihart - Boston Red Sox - (2016) switch hitter

Some observers have compared Swihart's tools to Buster Posey. He is the type of catcher I believe will be a candidate to change positions, but it's just a hunch.

From what I have seen on video, he has lots of work to do on defense, but his bat plays.

Jorge Alfaro - Rangers (2015) hits right handed

Here's a guy to put on your long-term radar. Alfaro also plays third base, but he is being groomed as a catcher. He's still learning his new position. The bat plays, however. He has the ability to spray the ball and his power is coming.

ALMOST AT IMPACT

A.J. Jimenez - Blue Jays (2014) hits right handed

The Blue Jays could afford to trade Travis d'Arnaud because they had J.P. Arencibia and Jimenez. He's had recent Tommy John surgery so his development has been slowed. I don't think he can make it to the big club until next season, at the earliest.

Jimenez is a good hitter for average. He doesn't have pop in his bat, but he does know how to hit the gaps.

Yan Gomes - Indians (2013) hits right handed

Not quite an impact guy, but Gomes is valuable right now as a fantasy bench player. He can play the outfield and first base as well as catch.

Gomes has some power in his bat and already has a homer for the Indians. He will get playing time whenever Carlos Santana or Lou Marson is hurt, as is now the case.

Austin Romine - Yankees (2014) hits right handed

Romine just can't quite nail down the Yankees catching job. He is a good receiver and can probably hit better than either of their two roster starters right now. But for some reason, the club has turned to Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart ahead of Romine. He may supplant one of them.

OTHER CATCHERS TO FOLLOW

Tim Federowicz - Dodgers
Andrew Susac - Giants
Steve Bean - Cardinals
Tony Sanchez - Pirates
Chris Hermann - Twins
J.T. Realmuto - Marlins
Cam Gallagher - Royals
Sandy Leon - Nationals
Josh Phegley - White Sox
Alex Monsalve - Indians
Clint Coulter - Brewers
Omir Santos - Indians

Bunts

I got to see the Dodgers in three games last weekend. I came away impressed with the improvement I saw from Josh Beckett. He looked terrific.

Get ready for the old Carl Crawford. He looks locked in to me.

Now that he's been activated from the disabled list, I think Didi Gregorius will play short and Cliff Pennington will play second. Aaron Hill is expected to miss four-to-six weeks with a broken left hand.

On these pages I said I felt Jackie Bradley Jr. would not last on the Red Sox's roster. I think he needs much more seasoning. I still look for him to be sent out soon.

Kevin Correia can pitch.

I'm not buying in totally yet, but the Braves really took it to the Nationals this past week. That's a race that will be great to watch all season.

Some injuries are very difficult to overcome. For me, the Jose Reyes injury could be in that category for Toronto. They don't have much middle-infield depth.

I thought San Diego's pitching would be better.

I thought Cleveland's pitching would be worse. It will be.

The Rangers are being very cautious with Alexi Ogando. He gets the hook at 100 pitches regardless of where he is in his game. That's been five innings - and that has cost me a few "quality starts."

The Angels (and me) have to be very concerned about the foot problems of Albert Pujols. He can barely walk, let alone run. I paid a steep price for him at auction last year and I can't afford to see him hurt.

In one league I have three outfielders on the DL. This year, the injuries seem to be more frequent and more serious.

I don't want to jinx him, but I love Joe Saunders pitching at home in Seattle. I watched him in Arizona. He's much better than people think.

Closer issues: Cubs, Marlins, Tigers, Red Sox, Brewers, Astros, Cardinals, and I think you'll be adding the Rangers to that list by July.

I voiced my concern about Giancarlo Stanton during the offseason. I remain concerned that he won't get many pitches to hit. I know it's early, but protection is a major issue for me. I think the trend will continue when he returns from injury. He'll have to adjust. He'll be seeing pitcher's pitches.

I'll be On The Scene in Durham this week to watch some of the White Sox, Rays and Orioles top prospects at Triple-A.

Follow me on Twitter @BerniePleskoff and on MLB.com in the Voices section.