A switch hitter and right handed thrower, Soto goes 6'0", 200 lbs and is a draft eligible sophomore this season. Soto has a wide range of skills with the potential to impact the game on both sides of the ball. He has great speed for a catcher- he registered a 7.12 second 60 yard dash in high school, and he plays even faster than that time. He has recorded pop times as low as 1.80 according to Perfect Game, and his arm is above average as well. Soto has the potential to be a superb defender- he has highly advanced receiving skills, and he's lithe, athletic and comfortable behind the dish. He shows a great knack for blocking the ball, and he has an accurate arm.
As a hitter, Soto has quick, smooth strokes from both sides of the plate. He has great hands and wrists and covers the plate excellently. He has present gap power and shows the ability to put the ball over the fence on occasion. He is currently slashing .324/.417/.528 with a 34/35 BB/K ratio in 244 plate appearances for the Panthers, and his offensive upside is more than enough to make him a future starter behind the plate. Soto, though he's just a sophomore, could easily be the best college catcher in this class from an all around perspective, even if Andrew Knapp has a bit more pure upside with the bat.
Soto is highly impressive in the field. He has great baseball IQ and trusts his speed to help him finish plays. He also possesses the pitch framing skills that are starting to become more highly valued by major league teams. Just 21 years old, Soto shows a lot of polish on both sides of the ball and can be a fast riser in whatever system he ends up in. It would not be surprising to see him start 2014 in high-A ball after a short season campaign in his draft year.
Even if Soto's bat can't handle the rigors of major league stuff, his athleticism and advanced defensive skills should get him to the big leagues in some capacity. His status as a switch hitter would make him useful as a backup catcher, a la Carlos Corporan.
At best, Soto can be an above-average regular behind the plate. His combination of contact hitting, above average defense, speed and solid average future power are all skills that can translate to the big league game.
Will he sign?
Since he has two years of eligibility remaining, you never know whether or not he can be lured away from Pittsburgh to join the pro ranks. However, if he goes where most project him, in the third-to-fifth round range, he'll have to think hard about going professional.
Elvin Soto - C - University of Pittsburgh (2013-03-09 vs. Youngstown State) (via Jeff Reese)