Breaking down the Draft's top catchers
Harper brings intrigue to unheralded class of backstops
This year's group of Draft-eligible backstops is thin. There is only a handful of quality guys. However, there is always a market for catchers, so the good ones have the chance to have their Draft status inflated. But this might be the weakest group, in terms of depth, in quite some time.
Kellin Deglan, Langley Blaze, British Columbia
With strong showings during tours of Arizona and Florida, Deglan has a good chance to be the first high school catcher to come off the board. Scouts like his approach at the plate and he's got some raw power. He moves surprisingly well behind the plate and has the makings of a solid all-around, left-handed-hitting backstop. Previous Canadian prospects have helped their stock with strong showings in the Dominican. Deglan is there now and could move into the first round when all is said and done.
Micah Gibbs, Louisiana State University
Generally well-regarded for his defense, Gibbs has had a bit of an odd year. He's hit better than he ever has, with an average over .400. While he's caught fine, he's not been good at throwing out baserunners. Still, he's a switch-hitter who's put up numbers and catches a good game. The team that believes he's got an everyday bat will likely take him fairly early, perhaps in the supplemental first round.
Yasmani Grandal, University of Miami
After Harper, Grandal is presumed to be the next backstop who will go off the board, with his name figuring prominently in the top 10 picks. There's a good reason for it: Known since high school for his overall defensive work, he's been as good a hitter as there's been in this college season. Switch-hitting catchers who can play defense and hit will fly off Draft boards every year.
Bryce Harper, College of Southern Nevada
There's not a whole lot left to say about the top player in the Draft. He's hitting .442/.524/.986 with 29 homers and 89 RBIs in 62 games. In postseason play recently, he hit for the cycle in one game, then went 6-for-6 with four homers and 10 RBIs (they switched from wood to metal for the tournament) to make sure his team advanced to the Junior College World Series. The only question is whether he'll catch long-term, but he's likely to get the opportunity to at least give it a shot for a while.
Jake Hernandez, Los Osos HS, Calif.
Perhaps Hernandez is to this Draft what Grandal was to the one in 2007. He's got the chance to be a very good defensive catcher, with an above-average arm and at least the makings for excellent skills across the board. It's not clear how much he'll hit, though he does have some strength that might eventually translate into power. His defense is his calling card, but a team that thinks he might hit a little might take him.
Michael Kvasnicka, University of Minnesota
Until this year, Kvasnicka had largely been an outfielder at the collegiate level, but he got a lot of attention when Minnesota moved him behind the plate. He's got an outstanding arm, though his release is a bit slow, and as a converted player, he's got some catching up to do -- pardon the pun -- with the rest of his defense. But he's fairly athletic, which should help him, and he's got a decent bat from both sides of the plate. A team convinced the catching move will work will give him a shot in the first few rounds.
Justin O'Conner, Cowan HS, Ind.
O'Conner has the chance to be the best high school catcher in the class, which is saying something considering he hasn't played that much behind the plate. He's got a plus arm that would work just fine and he's got the kind of athleticism that should make him fairly agile. That being said, the team that takes him will have to be patient in letting his defensive skills develop. They may not have to wait as long for his bat, which projects to hit for average with plenty of power to all fields.
Cameron Rupp, University of Texas
Catchers from Texas typically do well in the Draft, and Rupp has had enough experiences in big situations to be well-evaluated. He's got power and some defensive abilities behind the plate, most notably his arm. He doesn't have a ton of bat speed and he may never hit for a high average, but a strong backstop, with good leadership, some power and a good arm should come off the board in the first few rounds.
Stefan Sabol, Aliso Niguel HS, Calif.
Sabol has been a "name" for quite some time and entered the spring after the summer showcase circuit as one of the first prep bats mentioned. He hasn't quite lived up to that advanced billing, which may have been too much to begin with. He does have some bat speed and a little pop, but not a ton. He's fairly athletic behind the plate, but some question his ability to be able to stay back there at the next level. Still, there's likely to be a team willing to take a shot that he can figure those things out.
Will Swanner, La Costa Canyon HS, Calif.
Swanner got good early grades on his overall hitting ability, with some projecting average and power to come from the prepster. His defense isn't quite as strong, but he's got some things to like, including good athleticism that should allow him to remain fairly agile behind the plate. He also could probably handle another position if that were to be deemed necessary.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.