As Jonathan Lucroy recently stated not being interested in rebuilding with the team, Brewers fans may wonder what kind of depth there would be at the catcher position if he is indeed traded at one point. MLB.com recently released their top 10 catching prospects with no Brewers player being listed. So, do the Brewers have any catchers to look forward to? And what NL Central division rivalries have catchers coming up in the system?
First off, Brewers fans take note that Clint Coulter isn’t on the list as he’s switched positions last year playing primarily in the outfield for Brevard County (A+). In 2014, he played 126 games total for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (A), but only 61 games were played at the catcher position, while the rest were played as the DH. Although, the Brewers were hopeful Coulter would work out at the catcher position, his bat is what they looked forward to the most. He had the arm to play catcher, but not the mechanics.
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Moving on to look at what else the Brewers have in their catcher system, there really isn’t much. Josmil Pinto was claimed off waivers from the Twins, but has been designated for assignment with the Chris Carter signing. Experienced catcher Shawn Zarraga was traded to the Dodgers in exchange for 2 minor leaguers back in December. Adam Weisenburger, 27-year old, AA, played 90 games batting .231/.356./.311. Of Berberet (AA), Garfield (A+), Neda (A+), and McCall (A) no one had as good of a line as McCall at .248/.309/.317, which certainly isn’t saying much. And each player is at least 24 years or older. If anything, Dustin Houle made a spark batting .300/.337/.375 in A+, but then again that was only in 25 games in 80 at bats. So, he has a long way to go.
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Now, looking outside the Brewers and in the Central Division, there are lots of up and coming catchers. Willson Contreras, for the Chicago Cubs (AA), had an outbreak year. Not being ranked in Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook in 2015, he certainly made a name for himself with a .333/.413/.478 season. Having two catchers ranked is the Pirates. Reese McGuire at #4 and Elias Diaz at #6. McGuire is of no surprise having being ranked pre-2014 and pre-2015 in the top 100. Batting .254/.301/.294, you can tell he’s got a way to go on his offense, but has the raw talent as a catcher. Diaz (AAA) is similar, but a notch up (.271/.330/.382). Has great arm strength, but needs to work on his offense. He is up a few strides ahead of McGuire making two appearances for the Pirates in the September call-ups. Finally, the Reds have Tyler Stephenson at #5. Very much a work in project only at the Rookie level, but showed a good bat with a .268/.352/.361 line.
So, overall the Central Division has some catchers to pay close attention to, but the Brewers themselves will have some work to do if they consider trading Lucroy as Coulter is no longer an option. Fans will have reason to be interested in what David Stearns plans down the line will be with no strong candidate to look forward to in the near future.