Cardinals Organizational Rankings: Top 5 Catchers




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GUYS YOU KNOW

Carson Kelly: Age 23, MLB - 69 AB, 12 H, 3 Doubles, 0 HR, 6 RBI, 0 SB/0 CS, 11 SO, 5 BB, 174/240/217/457

PROSPECT GRADE: A-


There are some rules in major league baseball that are hilariously poor. Take, for instance, the rookie eligibility rule. The rule states that a hitter is eligible until he gets exceeded 130 major league at-bats or has been on the active roster for 45 days. Of course, that comes with the caveat that any time on the active roster after September 1st, when rosters expand, doesn't count against the 45 days. Thus, Carson Kelly will still be rookie eligible come the start of the 2018 season.


We've all seem to have forgotten just how bright his future prospects are. He only started 14 games after he was promoted on July 23rd and six of those starts came after Yadier Molina was under concussion protocol to end the season. There is no possible way to gauge his time in the major leagues yet.


My only concern now is what kind of damage the Cardinals have done to his development by keeping him in the majors and not getting him reps. Unfortunately, I am left to only speculate and wait on time to show us how detrimental ridding the pine was for Kelly. What I know for sure is, it definitely wouldn't have hurt him to continue to get the reps in Triple-A.


Keep your head up with Kelly. He's as good defensively as you'll see behind the plate from a prospect.

*Kelly's major league stats are only included above*


TOP 5

1. Andrew Knizner: Age 22, Double-A - 361 AB, 109 H, 23 Doubles, 1 Triple, 12 HR, 51 RBI, 1 SB/2 CS, 49 SO, 23 BB, 302/349/471/820

PROSPECT GRADE: B+


It appears that Knizner has become a white-hot name among Cardinals fans. The Major League club needs a huge offensive upgrade and many think that Carson Kelly will be one of the players that the Cardinals will ship to another team in a trade for that power bat. Most people think that because of the meteoric rise that Knizner has made through the minors.


Just one full season after being drafted, Knizner was playing in the AFL. I call that the "Harrison Bader and Paul DeJong Train" because that's the exact same route that those two gentleman took during the 2016 season. It isn't a coincidence that both were in the majors by the end of the 2017 and I believe that Knizner is plotting along a similar course for the 2018 season.


At one point there were some valid concerns about Knizner's ability behind the plate, but right now it looks like most of those concerns were for naught. By the time that the fall league was over, even though he was splitting time between catching and playing first, most scouts now agree that he is an impressive and capable backstop. He still makes a few mistakes, but they are the mistakes that you'd expect from a player that has only played the position for three seasons. He'll get that cleaned up, I believe.


Knizner dealt with an illness towards the end of his turn at Peoria that really brought down his stat line, but he still had a tremendous season. I read some nonsense the other day where someone said that Jonathan Machado had the best chance to hit for a high average and that Zach Kirtley has the best plate presence in the organization. I would politely like to enter Mr. Knizner's name into that fray. I mean, just look at this swing!




2. Dennis Ortega: Age 20, Single-A - 145 AB, 34 H, 6 Doubles, 0 HR, 11 RBI, 0 SB/ 0 CS, 30 SO, 17 BB, 234/321/276/597

PROSPECT GRADE: C


At this point, most of you that have heard of Ortega probably identify him as "that catching prospect that doesn't really hit". Well, yeah... but... deal with it?


OK, that's pretty true so far, but the kid can definitely catch. He checks all of the boxes behind the plate. Ortega's hitting issues and the absolute absence of power in his bat have really caused his stock to tumble in the time span of one year. And that's how it should be. 18 extra base hits over 542 minor league at-bats isn't going to cut it. With another sub-par year of hitting and continued progression of the guys below him in the organization, I could easily see Ortega falling off of the list.


However, I'm not ready to give up on Ortega. He is too good and prototypical of a catcher to ignore. He makes plays like this regularly behind the plate(he was called safe but the runner was clearly out here):



*video courtesy of Alex Cawley


His main issue at the plate is his bat speed. I believe that to be a pitch recognition issue and confidence issue, but if he starts to commit to swinging for a little bit of power I could easily see it manifesting. He has a strong feel for the strike zone and I am also encouraged by that.


3. Jeremy Martinez: Age 22, Triple-A - 206 AB, 39 H, 3 Doubles, 0 HR, 15 RBI, 1 SB/o CS, 26 SO, 24 BB, 189/281/204/485

PROSPECT GRADE: C-