2014 Draft Preview, Farm Inventory: Catchers

Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

As part of our 2014 Amateur Draft Preview, Future Redbirds will be taking an inventory of current talent at each position in the Cardinals minor league system.

Catching is always a need for nearly every organization in baseball. There are so few quality catchers and quality catching prospects that it makes it awfully hard to stockpile them into one organization. The Cardinals are set at the major league level for at least the next couple of seasons, with Yadier Molina signed to a long term deal (while also being the most complete catcher in the game) and Tony Cruz serving as a solid, cost-controlled backup. So while there's no immediate need for catching, the Cardinals should be focused on developing players at the position that will be ready in a few years as our current set of catchers get farther down the age curve.

The future looks...well, it's kinda hard to say how the future looks right now.

The Cardinals best rated prospect just moved to the position this year, sliding over from third base. While defensively Carson Kelly has acclimated well, throwing out 40% of base-stealers and doing a good job handling a talented Peoria pitching staff, his bat still hasn't shown any life above short season ball. He's hitting just .235/.299/.378 with a .143 ISO so far this season. Kelly's just 19 years old, though, which is young even for the Midwest League, but he's also in his third year of pro baseball -- so it is a bit of a concern that he continues to struggle so much offensively.

While rated a bit lower on the rating scale, the both Audry Perez and Cody Stanley have certainly gotten their names in plenty of DFR's with their play so far this season.  Perez has always been known as an above average defensive catcher and has moved through the minor league ranks based on his abilities behind the plate as well as being adept at handling pitchers. This year, though, his bat has really broken out, hitting .355/.363/.500 with a .145 ISO, good for a 122 wRC+, with the obvious caveat being that he's currently hitting .373 on balls in play. Even with some regression in that area, though, that's still a .280 batting average and a the ISO is solid for a catcher, even while the lack of walks makes Perez more dependent on BABIP luck.

Cody Stanley has been on an absolute tear as of late, bringing his season long numbers up to .330/.361/.480 with a .150 ISO, good for a 137 wRC+ in the Texas League. Now, hitting left handed at Hammons Field certainly isn't going to hurt, Stanley has actually fared better on the road so far this season, hitting .350/.379/.500 away from those friendly confines. He's old for the AA level by a year or so, but Stanley was on the prospect radar once upon a time as a left handed hitting catcher who was both good defensively and had a good set of offensive tools, including the speed which he's flashed while going 5-5 in stolen base attempts so far this season.  It seems that after struggling for a couple of seasons with the bat, Stanley is finally having some success and that's a good sign for the Cardinals organization.

Catcher is certainly a position of need for the organization, but when isn't it a position of need for any organization? The Cardinals haven't taken a catcher in the first round since Daric Barton in 2003 (although Steve Bean was a supplemental pick a couple of years ago), and I wouldn't expect them to do that this year either.

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