Each week from now until early March, we’ll take a look at the elite Class of 2012 high school baseball prospects by ranking our Top 10 players by position. This week, we unveil our list of the Top 10 catchers headlined by Acadiana (Lafayette, La.) standout Stryker Trahan.
Last year, Trahan was a Class 5A All-State first team selection after he batted .460 with five homers and 31 RBIs. He signed with Ole Miss.
Note: There are others that catch at the prep level that have enough offensive potential to have landed in the Top 10, but don't, in my opinion, have a great enough shot to stick at the position. This Top 10 has the best present skills and tools to remain catchers in pro ball.
1. Stryker Trahan, Acadiana (Lafayette, La.)
Trahan possesses good arm strength, quick feet and a consistent swing that produces above-average power from the left side of the plate. He's strong and sturdy, suggesting he can physically handle catching long term, but he also runs well, posting times from home to first in the low four-second range. He's committed to Ole Miss, but the 6-foot-1, 215-pounder has a chance to be taken off the board among the top 20 picks and is among the better high school catching prospects over the past five years.
2. Clint Coulter, Union (Camas, Wash.)
Coulter, a former elite wrestler, has only focused solely on baseball for one season, but it’s already paying off for the 6-foot-3, 215-pound right-handed hitter. He shows strength and a good approach at the plate and during the Area Code Games tryouts last summer stood out with a short swing and good hip rotation. He's signed a letter of intent with Arizona State, but there is also a good chance he's selected on Day 1 of the draft, which generally guarantees a player a mid-to-high six-figure bonus.
3. Alex Bregman , Albuquerque Academy (Albuquerque, N.M.)
Bregman played shortstop last summer and looked like a quality player, but most scouts project him at second base or catcher. His ranking here is based on the possibility that he sticks behind the plate. He certainly possesses the athletic ability, and his quick release bodes well for the position. He could stand to get stronger, however. He's an LSU commit who could sneak into second round with a strong spring.
4. Wyatt Mathisen, Calallen (Corpus Christi, Texas)
Mathisen's sound approach at the plate and strong arm highlight a solid package of skills for a prep catcher. He's an accurate thrower as well and has quick hands that help him generate bat speed. Mathisen will head to Austin to play for the Longhorns if he doesn't sign a pro deal this coming summer. He projects as a potential second-round pick as the 2012 schedule begins.
5. C.J. Saylor, South Hills (West Covina, Calif.)
Saylor gets the most out of his 5-foot-10, 180-pound frame, including some gap power and above-average arm strength. His strong lower half helps him produce solid pop times and provides a solid base when swinging the bat. The swing itself has flaws, including a stiff front arm, but there's bat speed and good hand-eye coordination. The San Diego State signee should hear his name called on Day 2.
6. Bryan De La Rosa, Bucky Dent Baseball School (Delray Beach, Fla.)
De La Rosa, a Florida State commit, possesses solid bat speed, generated from good hip rotation and quick wrists. His pop times sit in the 1.7-1.75 range, which is excellent, and despite his lack of size — 5-foot-9, 180 pounds — there's some upside in his game. He'll have to get stronger in his upper body and continue to work on his technique behind the plate and approach at it, but the Puerto Rico native is likely to garner a lot of attention in the middle rounds of Day 2, if not before.
7. Christopher Chinea, Gulliver Prep (Pinecrest, Fla.)
Chinea may have as much chance to jump up the charts as any other prep backstop. He's strong yet athletic at 6-feet and just over 200 pounds, and the power he's displayed is impressive. He was injured late last spring, but there are scouts who believe he's a solid talent that they'd like to keep from heading to LSU. Arm strength and a power swing may lead the way.
8. Ruben Ybarra, Riverside Poly (Riverside, Calif.)
Ybarra may be right behind Chinea in terms of possessing the raw physical tools to greatly improve his stock by draft day. There's big power in his swing and his arm is above average. He's committed to Arizona State, but another year working on his accuracy, making contact at the plate and improving his footwork could mean a spot in the top 100.
9. Tomas Nido, Orangewood Christian (Maitland, Fla.)
Nido is a favorite of mine after studying video and talking to scouts. He stands out in the most important categories as far as tools are concerned — arm strength, receiving and power at the plate. His pop times are above average, but during games he's shown a tendency to open his front side on throws. The hit tool needs work, too, and despite the raw power the swing is long and his hands are busy. He's another Florida State commit and a Day 2 prospect, but he has a chance to end up among the top five prep catchers off the board.
10. Wilfredo Rodriguez, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy (Gurabo, Puerto Rico)
Rodriguez has good feet, running many 60s in under seven seconds, which is good for a catcher. He has good arm strength, is very accurate and his footwork is also solid. His swing is simple and produces line drives, but he does bar his front arm and has a difficult time with good pitches on the outer half. He's signed on at Seminole State College.
Jason A. Churchill covers scouting, player development and the MLB Draft for ESPN Insider, as well as Prospect Insider, where he's the founder and executive editor. You can follow him on Twitter @ProspectInsider and email him at email@example.com.