Among the countless historically-good players on this year’s Hall of Fame ballot is former catcher Mike Piazza—or as I choose to remember him, the 1,390th overall (62nd round) selection in the 1988 draft.
Piazza made an immediate impact in his first full season in the major leagues, batting .318/.370/.561 with 35 home runs and 112 RBI in 149 games. His monster season at the plate also led to his selection as the National League Rookie of the Year.
Over the course of his 16-year career, Piazza, now 44 years old, emerged as the greatest offensive catcher in the history of his game. Appearing in 1,912 games with five different organizations, the right-handed hitter batted .308/.377/.545 with 344 doubles, 427 home runs and 1,335 RBI.
Piazza’s offensive prowess resulted in 12 All-Star Game selections and 10 Silver Slugger awards, and he appeared in the final MVP voting in nine different seasons.
In his first few seasons in the major leagues, Piazza’s defense was barely serviceable behind the plate. In fact, he led the league in passed balls in both 1995 and 1996 with 12. Oddly, he managed to post his career-best caught-stealing-rate (35 percent) as a rookie in 1993. After that, however, it was all downhill as his career caught-stealing-rate sits at a subpar 23 percent.
But are there any catching prospects with the potential to be the next Mike Piazza? Yes, and lots of them. In fact, a majority of minor-league catchers are only being developed at the position due to their perceived offensive upside.
So, here’s a look at five prospects with the bat to be the next great slugging catcher.