H/W: 6'0'', 180 lbs.
At first glance, you would not think Chris Okey is a catcher. However he is, and he's a very good one. He doesn't have the frame found in most backstops, but Okey's unique athleticism for the position makes him one of the most intriguing high school players in this draft, and one of my personal favorites.
Behind the plate, Okey has turned out as one of the best defensive catchers in the draft. Perfect Game has his best pop time (the time between the ball reaching the catcher's mitt and the second baseman's/shortstop's glove at first) at 1.85, with an average of 1.9. Anything below 2.0 is considered pretty exceptional, so Okey has the tools to throw out runners. Essentially, there are no concerns about Okey's size when it comes to his tools behind the plate. In fact, it may be an asset that he's so uniquely athletic for his position.
The thing I love the most about Okey is his potential versatility. If he can stay at catcher, that's ideal; it's a valuable position, plain and simple. But Okey also has the speed and footwork to play second and maybe some centerfield, which could skyrocket his value down the line. Now, there's no sense in throwing him into a utility role right when he gets to pro ball. I think that it's better that a younger prospect focus on one position and work on his bat. But in the majors or high minors, I'd love to see what Okey would look like at second base or in center, in addition to his primary position at catcher. I know, the guy that just popped into your head is Craig Biggio, and I love guys that have the ability to play multiple unique positions like that.
At the plate, Okey has above average bat speed and squares the ball up good. Scouts are pretty fond of his hit tool, so he's not all defense. He doesn't have great power potential, probably maxing out at a ceiling of 10-15 homers as his major league ceiling. However, I see him as a guy who can give you a solid batting average. I really like the way the sound comes off his bat in the first video below. Or maybe that's just the echo from the Metrodome. Either way, I really like his bat, and he could be a high average guy at the next level.
Okey's defense is already very good, so that's one thing working for him. Prep catchers are difficult to develop, so his floor is a backup catcher who can't stick due to his bat.
If the bat comes around and his defense keeps up, I dream of Okey being a top the order catcher who can hit .280 and play really good defense, like Jason Kendall did. He would have even more value if he played some second base as well.
Projected Draft Round
Okey is easily among the top 100 players in the draft. I see him going somewhere between the second and third round. I'd be pretty ecstatic if the Astros got him with their third round pick.
Will He Sign?
He may command a little over slot, but I think Okey signs. If he falls far enough into or out of the third round, he could decide to close up shop and head to college. Prep catchers are risky straight into pro ball, and college coule help him refine some parts of his game and make him a safer pick in three years. He's committed to Clemson
Chris Okey (06-14-18-2012) PG National (Minneapolis, Minn.) (via DiamondScapeBaseball)
Chris Okey Prospect Video, Eustis HS Chris_okey14 (via Steve Fiorindo)
"Chris Okey is a 2013 C/UT with a 6-0 175 lb. frame from Mt Dora, FL who attends Eustis. Medium athletic build, wiry strength, very quick twitch for a catcher. Plus arm strength, very quick release, plus fundamental footwork and exchange, consistent 1.9's in game action, 1.85 best pop, easy and athletic catching actions. Right handed hitter, balanced hitting mechanics, quick hands, surprising power for his size, has bat control and squares up the ball, turns around 90+ velo easily. Has instincts for the game and performs. Top level talent. Good student, verbal commitment to Clemson."- Perfect Game
"Okey has an average build for a catcher with an athletic 6-foot, 175-pound frame. He has plenty of big-game experience after three summers with the USA Baseball program. In 2010, he was one of three 2013 players on the 16-and-under team, and he was a catcher for the 18-and-under team the past two years, as one of two underclassmen in 2011 and helping bring home gold medals in 2012. Okey stands out as a polished defender behind the plate with some offensive upside. He receives and blocks with easy, shows a strong throwing arm, as well as good leadership and makeup for the position. As a hitter, he has a balanced, righthanded swing and a gap-to-gap approach. He has been a member of the Florida Travel Ball program and is committed to Clemson."- Baseball America