C Mario Feliciano
Ok, so the trend of left handed starting pitchers is over. After all, there really aren’t that many in the system, but those three are the big ones to protect. One of their potential future batterymates is Mario Feliciano, who also should be untouchable this offseason.
With Yasmani Grandal heading into free agency once again this winter, the Brewers will have question marks about the future at the catcher position once again. Manny Pina is a good player and is serviceable, but his offensive shortcomings are well known.
Jacob Nottingham was once thought of as the catcher of the future, but his bat has inexplicably gone missing since joining the Brewers organization and he’s now an afterthought. With no immediate known “catcher of the future” or even “catcher for 2020”, it’s time to look further down in the minor leagues for what the Brewers have, and you’ll quickly find Feliciano.
With the Carolina Mudcats in 2019, Feliciano hit .273 with 25 doubles, 19 home runs, 81 RBIs, and a .801 OPS. He has a strong bat, can hit to all fields, and is finally tapping into his power.
While he’s known as a bat-first catcher, he’s made great strides defensively behind the plate and is a great pitch framer and will be solid defensively by the time he reaches the big leagues. He’s ranked as the Crew’s 8th best prospect.
By receiving positive marks both offensively and defensively, Feliciano is a rare breed of catcher in today’s game. There are very few catchers that are successful at both offense and defense. Most are either one or the other, and more often than not, it’s the defensive ability that takes priority.
Catcher and shortstop are the two positions where teams are willing to sacrifice offense for defense. But if teams can get both out of those positions, they don’t take that opportunity lightly. That’s why the Brewers pursued Yasmani Grandal last winter and will try to re-sign him again this offseason.
Should Grandal leave, or even if Grandal should stay, the Brewers need to keep Feliciano around. He could be their best homegrown catcher since Jonathan Lucroy and once he reaches the big leagues, anything can happen. Feliciano will be in Double-A in 2020 and from there, you’re a phone call away from the big leagues.
It’s very important the Brewers don’t trade away Feliciano this offseason and make him untouchable.