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2016 MLB Draft: Astros Building Depth-Catcher

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With the Astros catching depth lacking a true front-line catcher, here are some options that the Astros could look into in the early rounds of the draft.

Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

The MLB draft is different than any other draft in that you don't draft for need. Need is a very different thing with baseball as draftees usually take at least two to three years to begin to contribute. Players drafted in high school take even longer usually. As a result, you can't draft for need because your need is for...well, now. Otherwise it's not a need. You cannot predict what you might need in three years. You can guess, but it doesn't always come out that way.

As a result, you draft whom you think is the best prospect available and figure it out later. However, there is some things to consider. The top of the draft has separation between players. They've been scouted so much that you have a pretty good idea of who is better than the next. But, once you get through the top players, that becomes extremely foggy. So, after a few rounds you can start looking at prospects as more of a grouping of whom you feel the best is. If you have an issue with depth at a position and that position is represented, then you can draft said player to address that depth.

The catching depth in the system is lacking for the Astros. And, lacking may not even be the word for it. It definitely lacks the ceiling that many of the other positions hold.

Current Depth

Triple-A: Max Stassi, Tyler Heineman

Two guys with good defensive reputations but I have my concerns about Stassi and blocking. Heinemann limits strikeouts and draws walks while Stassi has power at the cost of contact.

Double-A: Alfredo Gonzalez, Roberto Pena, Trent Woodward

Pena and Gonzalez have great defensive backgrounds. Pena has one season with an OPS over .700 and that was in Lancaster. Woodward bounces around a lot in the system but doesn't really have anything that stands out at the plate. Gonzalez had a great 2015 but hasn't been able show an ounce of resemblance to that this season.

High-A: Jamie Ritche, Garrett Stubbs

Ritchie has the best offensive track record for catcher in the system but doesn't carry the best reputation defensively. The Astros appear to have a system in teaching catcher though. Stubbs is probably the better defensively of the two and walks more than he strikes out.

Low-A: Christian Correa, Anthony Hermelyn

Correa was an undrafted free agent last year without a good offensive performance to his record in the pros. Hermelyn was a fourth round pick with a good reputation defensively. He walks a good bit but also strikes out some.

Plenty of guys who can do the job in the minors but none of them look like number one catchers.

2016 Draft

The 2013 prep catching class was ridiculous. It produced several solid prospects who continue to be good prospects in the minors today. But, those who didn't sign are now draft-eligible. That includes Chris Okey who we evaluated and rated highly in 2013.

Chris Okey-Clemson: The Clemson catcher looks to be a late first round pick or even Comp. round pick. He's solid across the board and does a lot of things well, including handling a pitching staff. He's not a Buster Posey, but he's good enough across the board to contribute everyday although not at an All-Star level.

Zach Collins-Florida: He's likely to be drafted before the Astros first pick because of his bat. His bat as a catcher is up there with the best but it's a legitimate question if he can catch. His arm and blocking are suspect. But, teams think he's good enough at the plate to still contribute as a first baseman.

Matt Thaiss-Virginia: He can hit and he can control the strike zone. He's not a big power bat but he can get on-base. He fits the Astros offensive approach. However, his arm is suspect as a catcher and he's raw defensively. He's likely a late first round pick.

Ben Rortvedt-HS (Wisconsin): The top prep catcher this year has the tools but like any other prep catcher, needs a lot of work to turn tools to skills. He has the potential for an average batting average and maybe above average power. He has the upside of an everyday catcher. He's likely a second round pick depending on how firm he is the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Cooper Johnson-HS (Illinois): Most prep catchers need a lot of work. Surprisingly this one doesn't. He's one of the most advanced prep catchers in several years. However, there are real questions as to whether he can hit in the pros. Considering the work it takes for catcher, that doubt can get scary. However, he has some pop so if he can hit some, he has All-Star upside.

Brett Cumberland-California: He's a switch-hitting catcher that is offensively minded but not to where he's bad defensively. He hit 16 home runs in the Pac-12 as a draft-eligible sophomore. He can hit and draw walks. He struck out as much as he walked. He needs a lot of work behind the plate but the tools should allow him to work behind the plate but not stand out. He looks like a solid third rounder.

Sean Murphy-Wright State: He's shown some pop at Wright State and has shown an ability to draw walks. But, what he's really shown is a cannon for an arm and skills behind the plate. Four of his six homers came early in the season is a small sample but lost time with a broken hand. There could be more power lurking in his bat. A third round selection makes sense or even a fourth round type.

Jake Rogers-Tulane: Some catchers you just don't run on. He's one. But, people haven't figured that out. He caught 71% of base stealers in the Cape Cod and had 63 caught stealers this spring alone. He gets it done behind the plate but can struggle at the plate. He has issues with driving the ball but can show off some power when he does. I see him as a fourth round type because of his deficits in his swing.

Logan Ice-Oregon State: He stands out because he's a switch hitter and can handle his own at the plate. He does a lot well but nothing really great other than walk more than he strikes out. He is solid in every aspect to the game except on the bases. He does enough to have the potential to be an every day catcher but not an All-Star.

Will Smith-Louisville: Dude showed off his bat this year with a .380 average and seven home runs. Also walked more than he struck out. He's also solid behind the plate and can receive premium stuff as he's caught the likes of Kyle Funkhouser and the Burdi Brothers.

Jeremy Martinez-USC: Another one of those prep catchers in 2013. He is another solid catcher all around with his approach being the closes thing he has to a plus skill. He's fringy defensively but if you think he sticks as a catcher, he can go in the third or fourth round.

Tres Barrera-Texas: All defense and power. But, the question is if his power will ever be more than raw power as his hitting ability is very suspect. If he can't hit he can't display his power. He'll stick at catcher defensively but he looks to be a backup type with defense and raw power.

Andrew Knizer-NC State: Probably one of the more raw college catchers due to only being a catcher for two years. His bat has suffered since his freshman year as a result of his move from third base to catcher. He was a Freshman All-American as a third baseman so some teams will hope to re-tap into that offense he flashed early on. He should be able to stick at catcher with enough work.

Andy Yerzy-HS (Canada): Raw power with some raw tools behind the plate. He's a project with a lot of attention needed with his movements behind he plate and throws. He also needs work with hitting. He's not going to be a great hitter, but if he can hit enough to allow for his power to play in games, he can be worth the project.