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Draft  | Story  | 12/15/2023

MLB Draft: Positional Recap & Preview

Isaiah Burrows      Tyler Henninger      Tyler Kotila     
As we get into the winter, our PG Draft team will break down each position, going through some of the players who have been first off the board at each position, when they were taken, etc. We’re going to dive into the last few seasons, see where these positions tend to be taken, and follow that up with a look at the 2024 class and some players from this draft class who could be first off the board at their respective positions. 

For this, we looked back at the 2021-2023 MLB Draft Classes to see when each player was taken, trying to look at their respective skill sets and dive into the minds of a big-league front office. We’re starting with catchers, taking a look at who some of the premier backstops have been on draft day at both the prep and college level. 

Our draft team will break down who these prospects were when they were taken and what made them such unique prospects at the time. Without further adieu, let’s dive in!

2021 Draft History: Catchers

College: Henry Davis, Louisville 

The 2021 class was a good one for backstops all around. Davis was selected first overall to the Pittsburgh Pirates after an absurd career at Louisville. He looked the part of a surefire bat with a plus arm behind the dish and plus power to all fields. He checked close to every box you’d want out of a college backstop and the athlete he is shouldn’t be overlooked. The swing decisions and offensive polish combined with gaudy exit velocities gave this profile a lot to like. Combine it with the arm and defensive tools behind the dish and it’s easy to see how Davis made his MLB debut earlier this year.  -IB

Prep: Harry Ford, North Cobb HS (GA) 

Ford was a tooled up prep catcher who was a plus athlete across the board, capable of playing multiple positions. He was selected No. 12 overall by the Seattle Mariners after a strong showing on the summer circuit combined with a high end track record at North Cobb. Ford has easy plus bat speed with real twitchy wrists. It just whips through the zone and the pull-side power continued to show big his senior year. He’s a plus runner at a premium position with a chance for above-average pop at the highest level. The pure strength and athleticism tool set was rare to find in the class, and he’s continued his ascent.  -IB

2022 Draft History: Catchers

Prep: Lamar King Jr, Calvert Hall College HS (MD), 120th pick (4th rd.)

With a majority of the top prep catchers electing to go to college, only two prep catchers went in the Top-10 rounds in 2022 with the first not coming off the board until the 4th round. That is where the Padres used the 120th overall pick to select Lamar King Jr. out of Calvert Hall College HS (MD). King showcased advanced defensive actions as a prep, blocking well with some catch and throw ability. Obvious upside was shown at the plate, where power potential and continued improvement with the bat rounded out an intriguing profile. -TH

College: Kevin Parada, Georgia Tech, 11th pick (1st rd.) 

Parada was the consensus top catching prospect throughout a majority of the 2022 draft cycle. Although he flirted with being a Top-10 selection, the Georgia Tech catcher slid right outside of that to 11th overall. A strong right-handed bat carried the profile. Advanced feel for the barrel showed the ability to drive balls with authority to all fields. An intriguing mix of power and hit hinted at a potential run-producing bat. There were mixed reports regarding the defensive ability, but the bat was too powerful for the Mets to pass up. -TH

2023 Draft History: Catchers

First Prep Catcher Off The Board: Blake Mitchell, 8th Overall, Kansas City Royals
Last year, Blake Mitchell was one of the premier backstops on most draft boards. In our final update, Mitchell was the 20th-ranked player on the draft board and the top backstop we had ranked. In the 2023 MLB Draft MOCK that Brian Sakowski did ahead of Draft Night, like the finale of mocks, Mitchell went 25th to the San Diego Padres. Collegiate catcher Kyle Teel was the first backstop off the board at eighth overall to the Royals. The Royals scooped up Mitchell at eight and were the first team to take a backstop. With Mitchell, they got an elite catching prospect with a lovely mix of bat speed and juice. He’s a 6-foot-1, 200-pound athlete with tons to like about the frame. He swings it from the left side and will be a real threat for years to come. He’s got the power that stands out but can shorten up and poke one backside if needed. Defensively, he has the tools to be a backstop with tons of athleticism and the ability to handle being a catcher. On top of all that, some folks thought the Sinton, Texas native would be a pitcher at the next level. He was up to 96 mph on the bump, so who knows? Jokes aside, Mitchell was a safe pick at eight, and the Royals got a good one with their first-round pick in 2023. -TK

First College Catcher Off The Board: Kyle Teel, 14th Overall, Boston Red Sox
While Mitchell was the first prep catcher off the board, Kyle Teel had quite the buzz surrounding him in 2023. He was a late riser, but when he moved up draft boards, he moved quickly. There was some buzz that he might move into the top ten at one point. But, the University of Virginia backstop was the 14th overall selection in the MLB Draft by the Boston Red Sox. In our final Mock linked above, Sakowski had Teel going ninth to the Royals, who opted to take the prep backstop in Mitchell. But Teel was extremely toolsed up and an excellent pick for the Red Sox. The UVA backstop had a whole list of accolades after his performance in 2023, as he performed to a First-Team All-ACC honors, alongside catcher-only awards like the Buster Posey and Johnny Bench awards, respectively. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound backstop is extremely athletic behind the dish and will be able to stick there long-term if the Red Sox want to keep him there. If not, he’s got a career as a corner outfielder made out for him as well, with arm strength to pair. Teel’s exceptional in the batters’ box as well. He has a ton to like about his bat-to-ball, and he controls the strike zone well. As a phenomenal college hitter with defensive versatility, it was an easy decision for Boston at pick no. 14 in last summer’s draft. -TK

Looking ahead to 2024 MLB Draft:

Prep: Cade Arrambide, Tomball HS (TX) 

Arrambide possesses arm strength that very few possess. The backstop posted a PG National record with a 1.70 pop time and threw 102 mph from the outfield as well. A quick, loose arm action generates easy carry that stands out above his peers. At the plate there is big power that plays to the pull side. Barrel feel has been shown during in-game action, hinting at a loud profile on both sides of the ball. Arrambide some of the loudest tools we have seen in a prep catcher and could be an impact profile if it all clicks at the next level. -TH

College: Malcolm Moore, Stanford

Moore very well could have been a first round pick out of high school, but a firm commitment to Stanford resulted in him getting to campus. During his freshman year, Moore produced a .311/.386/.564 slash line with 15 home runs and 35 total extra-base hits. One of the stronger bats on the west coast, Moore possesses advanced barrel feel and a potential run-producing profile. The power will only continue to develop, giving the offensive profile big time upside. Moore has the track record and should draw tons of interest this spring as a draft-eligible sophomore. -TH
College: Walker Janek, Oklahoma State 

Janek can be one of the more complete backstops in the class, and the stick impressed big in 2023. He’s a versatile athlete with a good chance to stick behind the dish with an above-average arm. The bat has the chance to really play if he moves off to a corner/third base, with a good combination of power and bat-to-ball ability. He’s on the barrel and sprays it hard to all fields from a really short, clean path. The athleticism is a standout defensively and he made strides. Janek has a real knack on both sides and is in store for a huge year.  -IB

Prep: Hunter Carns, First Coast HS (Fla.)

Carns is coming off one of a loud PG circuit and gets the nod as the current top prep catcher in the class. The Florida State commit oozes athleticism with huge bat speed at the plate. It’s a pure speed/power profile as a plus runner and strength that plays to the biggest parts of the yard. He can leverage the barrel with good backspin and carry to the path while whipping through the zone. The defensive feel has been solid in looks and there’s good twitch and sound actions with solid-to-average arm strength. He’s a high end athlete who can handle a corner spot should he move over, but the bat and defensive ability makes him one of the more intriguing names in the class and has all the chance to the be first prep backstop off the bord come July.  -IB
Potential to be First Prep Catcher Off The Board: Drew Rogers, C, Hamilton HS (AZ), Georgia Tech commit
One of my favorite backstops in the entire 2024 class is Drew Rogers. The Georgia Tech commit has a really enticing skillset that will likely pique the interest of some big-league teams this spring. He’s playing for Hamilton HS in Arizona this spring and a loud performance could be his ticket to move up the draft board. The 6-foot, 215-pound backstop swings it from the right side and has traits that make him stand out amongst the rest. As a backstop, he has tons of baseball IQ and great instincts behind the dish. He stands out as a game manager, able to step in as needed and take control of things. He throws well, posting a 1.79 pop last summer on the circuit with 85 mph throws down to second. So, the tools behind the dish are certainly intact. Plus, in the batters’ box, there are some really loud swings from Rogers, who hit a couple of balls over 100+ mph in Jupiter, including a 107 mph, 431-foot bomb. It’s a physical swing that produces some real thump off the barrel. Tons of power upside with Rogers moving forward. He’s one of those players who could very well hear his name called this summer as the first prep backstop off the board. -TK

Potential to be First College Catcher Off The Board: Jacob Cozart, C, Junior, N.C. State University
On the collegiate side, Jacob Cozart is one of the backstops that could end up being a high priority on big league draft boards next summer—the N.C. State catcher has plenty to like about him and is primed for a big junior campaign this spring. He's one of the better catchers out there in this year's draft class, and the defensive polish may just give him a leg up on other catchers in the '24 class. He's got a lengthy 6-foot-3, 216-pound build with strength in the lower half as a part of his frame. He's a smooth mover behind the dish, staying balanced and moving about behind the dish. Whether it's popping out of the crouch quickly for throws to second or using his length to step outside and gun a runner down at third, Cozart's got the defensive polish to do so, being a plus-defender. At the dish, there's an upside as well. It's a simple and fluid stroke from the left side. He's quick to the ball, uses the strength in the lower half to leverage balls, and can certainly use the strength to lift. He uses the lengthy levers well to extend and drive the ball well. After a breakout season in 2022 as a sophomore, Cozart's primed for big things in 2023. Another loud spring could very well see him move up draft boards quickly, to be the first backstop off the board in 2024. -TK