Next to pitchers, the hardest position to project in baseball is catcher. Today we’ll take a look at Milwaukee Brewers top catching prospect, Jacob Nottingham.
In only his fifth season of professional baseball Nottingham is already playing for his third organization. The Milwaukee Brewers traded outfielder Khris Davis to Oakland in 2016 to acquire Nottingham along with pitcher Bubba Derby.
Nottingham has been a huge disappointment at the plate this season. He’s hitting only .222 with five home runs in 75 games for the Double-A Biloxi Shuckers. His .331 on base percentage is helped by his 24 walks. With 60 strikeouts, he is still swinging and missing way too much.
In two seasons in the Brewers system he has 198 strikeouts in 741 plate appearances. That means he is striking out once in every 3.7 plate appearances. Basically, you can count on at least one strikeout every game from Nottingham.
According to his MLB scouting report, his only tools that grade out at average are his power and his arm. He receives below average or worse grades for his other tools. His five home runs in 75 games show that his power isn’t translating when he takes the field. He needs to turn that around to advance through the Brewers’ system.
Not considered to be a good fielding catcher, Nottingham has changed that narrative this season. In 2016 for the Shuckers, he allowed 53 stolen bases while throwing out only 22. On top of that he allowed a whopping 21 passed balls.
He has taken a giant step forward defensively this season. He’s allowed 31 stolen bases so far. That total is a bit high, but there has been improvement. He’s already caught 20 would be base stealers. The number that really jumps out at you are his passed balls. He has lowered that number to only seven this year.
Still only 22 years old, Nottingham has time to figure things out. The Brewers added Andrew Susac and Jett Bandy over the last year, so there is no rush for Nottingham. His bat should come along and allow him to hit in the mid .200’s. At worst he could develop into a competent backup.
The honest projection for him is that he’ll end up at first base. The Milwaukee Brewers added another project at catcher this year when they drafted K.J. Harrison in the third round. Catcher is a position that an organization can never have enough depth at.
At 6’2″ Nottingham is a bit over-sized for the catcher position. His bat makes him intriguing. If he cannot stick as a catcher he will not amount too much at the Major League level. First basemen who won’t clear 20 homers in any one season, and play below average defense aren’t exactly in demand. Nottingham will probably be nothing more than organizational depth moving forward.