Sep
14

Callis on the Yanks’ catching prospects

By

I get a lot of questions about the Yankees’ stockpile of young catchers in the minors. Why do they keep bringing these guys in, where are they all going to play, how would you rank them, yadda yadda yadda. As I always say, there’s no such thing as too much of anything in the minors, except for non-prospects. In his weekly AskBA column, Jim Callis fielded a question about this very subject, so allow me to excerpt:

The Yankees have spent heavily to amass the best catching depth in the minors. Only Cervelli, who signed for $65,000 out of Venezuela in 2003, came cheaply. Montero got $1.65 million when he turned pro out of Venezuela three years later. Romine (second round, 2007) and Higashioka (seventh round, 2008) both received $500,000 bonuses. New York invested even more heavily this summer, giving Murphy $1.25 million as a second-rounder (the second-highest bonus in that round this year) and Sanchez $3 million (the second-highest bonus on the international market in 2009). The Yankees also spent $450,000 on 2007 seventh-rounder Chase Weems, whom they traded to the Reds this summer for Jerry Hairston Jr.

Montero is clearly the best prospect of that group and might have won our Minor League Player of the Year award if he hadn’t broken his left middle finger. He’s the best power-hitting prospect in the minors, but he lacks agility and quickness behind the plate, which may dictate a move to another position. In 59 games as a catcher this year, he committed 11 passed balls and threw out just 20 percent of basestealers. He does have some arm strength but it takes him too long to get rid of the ball.

Romine has the best all-around tools of the Yankees catching prospects. He should hit for a decent average with some power, and he has the strong arm and athleticism to take care of business behind the plate. Cervelli is the top defender in the group, though his below-average hitting ability and power make him more of a future backup.

Murphy could wind up as the second-best hitter of the bunch behind Montero, and he has made a nice transition to catching after playing outfield and third base for much of his amateur career. Higashioka is still a raw 19-year-old, but he’s similar to Romine, albeit with less athleticism. Sanchez is even less refined, but his bat speed, power potential and arm strength are all plus tools. He’s athletic for a catcher and could develop similarly to Romine, but his receiving and footwork are iffy enough (and his bat tantalizing enough) that he could go down the Montero path.

As overall prospects, I’d stack them up in this order: Montero, Romine, Murphy, Sanchez, Cervelli, Higashioka.

As you all probably already know, I’m not very keen on international signees until they get to the states and do something, so I’d rank them in the same order except with Sanchez last. That’s just my opinion though.

Cervelli has the inside track on the backup catcher job for the big league club next year, and JR Murphy is a candidate for Extended Spring Training since he’s relatively new to catching. That would put Montero with Triple-A Scranton, Romine with Double-A Trenton, Higashioka with Low-A Charleston, and Sanchez with the Rookie GCL Yanks. The Yanks could also opt to send Montero back to Trenton to at least start the year, meaning he and Romine would do the C/DH thing again. That would also work if the Yanks retain Jose Molina or bring in another veteran catcher, sending Cervelli back to Triple-A.

I guess the point of this post is that you can never have too much of a good thing. Not all of these guys will make it. Heck, if two make it, the Yankees will be very lucky. Enjoy the depth, stop worrying about who’s going where.

Categories : Minors
  • jsbrendog

    this is very good as above average catchers are hard to come by. just look at some of the guys who still get roster spots.

    • jsbrendog

      the number of starting or even catchrs that have caught at least 70 games hitting below 260 is absolutely mind boggling.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68http://riveraveblues.com/2009/09/assessing-brackmans-season-part-i-16790/#comment-579681 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        There are 61 big-league catchers who have at least 100 plate appearances. Only 15 have wOBAs of .330 or above. 26 of them have wOBAs below .300.

        • jsbrendog

          seriously, I have a friend who caught, and i was looking around at statistics at the ml and independent league levels and was like, dude, you are better offensively than 80+% of these guys. so I convinced him to start training and he is going to tryout for the independent league (newark bears league) in feb during open tryouts.

          haha, theyre all old major leaguers so if he can hit 300 with power from behind the plate who knows. the nats could use him.

          at the least he gets to hit off armando benitez and make mroe than being unemployed.

          oh, and leave a toy dinosaur in carl everett’s locker

          • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

            I wanna go to those open tryouts one year despite not having played baseball since 2006.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68http://riveraveblues.com/2009/09/assessing-brackmans-season-part-i-16790/#comment-579681 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    Cervelli has the inside track on the backup catcher job for the big league club next year, and JR Murphy is a candidate for Extended Spring Training since he’s relatively new to catching. That would put Montero with Triple-A Scranton, Romine with Double-A Trenton, Higashioka with Low-A Charleston, and Sanchez with the Rookie GCL Yanks.

    MLB: Posada and Cervelli
    AAA: Montero
    AA: Romine
    High-A:
    Low-A: Higashioka
    EXST: Murphy
    GCL: Sanchez

    Who starts in Tampa, nobody of consequence? Does Jeff Farnham warrant a jump to Tampa, or should I be slapped just for mentioning his name, because he’s a nobody?

    More importantly, does that hole in the major prospect pecking order mean we may be interested in moving Higgy up to Tampa if he has a good first half to clear a spot for Murphy to go to Charleston after EXST is over? Or would we be conservative and have Murphy go to Staten Island instead?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Who starts in Tampa, nobody of consequence? Does Jeff Farnham warrant a jump to Tampa, or should I be slapped just for mentioning his name, because he’s a nobody?

      More importantly, does that hole in the major prospect pecking order mean we may be interested in moving Higgy up to Tampa if he has a good first half to clear a spot for Murphy to go to Charleston after EXST is over? Or would we be conservative and have Murphy go to Staten Island instead?

      Yes?

      In all seriousness, that spot in Tampa doesn’t mean anything. Obviously someone will be there, probably Abeita. It gives them and easy means to promote Higashioka or demote Romine should either warrant it.

      • jsbrendog

        i wish i could edit my posts.

        but seriously, it is nice to see the stockpiling of high upside talent at a premium position. all we need now is a ss to go with montero

        • Tom Zig

          Miguel. Angel. Sano.

          • Andy In Sunny Daytona

            From your fingertips to Hal’s wallet. Keep your fingers crossed.

  • Andy In Sunny Daytona

    Mike Axisa, circa 2006:

    “Don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard excellent reports about this Montero guy (if you believe in those South American voodoo reports), but he is well below Jerod Greenwood in my opinion.”

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      There’s no way I said that.

      • Andy In Sunny Daytona

        Just kidding man.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

          Okay phew. I didn’t want to have to kick my own ass.

          • JSquared

            HaHa, that would never go away… Scorned Reputation.

          • Andy In Sunny Daytona

            Kind of sounds like something you would say though. You xenophobe. haha

    • JSquared

      Owned.

  • JSquared

    Any idea where Damian Taveras will play Mike? .396 in 30 games at DSL…

    • http://z.about.com/d/tvcomedies/1/0/F/-/-/-/judge310_72.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      Heh… DSL…

      • Thomas A. Anderson

        What you did there, I see it.

        HE’S NOT REFERRING TO VERIZON INTERNET SERVICE FOLKS!

        HI-YOOOOO!!!!!!!!

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          I’m going to start referring to some of the finer skanks that I know as “Dominican Summer Leaguers”.

          • http://bronxbaseballdaily.com Matt ACTY/BBD

            IETCVM.

  • Accent Shallow

    I think the issue with stockpiling catchers is that if you do move them off C, they’re much less likely to be plus defenders at other positions than shortstops or centerfielders would be.

    Additionally, catchers face more of an injury/durability issue than the other up-the-middle positions: someone can routinely play 162 games at 2B, SS, or CF, and not have their offense suffer. That’s simply impossible for a catcher.

  • http://www.theyankeeuniverse.com/ The Artist

    One little reason to like Cervelli as next year’s backup. Yes, he’s a plus defender and OK bat, but he also has as a bonus the exceptionally rare quality of SPEED coming from your backup Catcher.

    Why is that useful? Say it’s late in a game, and the Yanks want to pinch run for Jorge Posada. With Molina (or most backup catchers), that would mean someone like Hairston or Gardner would pinch run and Molina would have to come off the bench, therefore burning two bench players. But with Cervelli, you substitute him DIRECTLY for Posada, leaving you an extra bat off the bench for possible late/extra inning match up.

    Not a huge deal, but could win you a game or two over the course of a season.

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