I can remember talking with a long-time Twins executive a long time ago. He used the phrase "catcher attrition," and I've never forgotten that. It is hard to develop catchers and get them to the big leagues. It is a tough position physically. Not only do they have to try to develop as a hitter, but they have to develop as a catcher. They need to work on improving their ability to block pitches, have good footwork and develop arm strength and accuracy. Now, a huge focus is on presenting pitches, which has a huge impact on plate appearances. It is a physically grueling position. Not only is catching tough on the knees, but foul tips can be incredibly painful. Now try to hit when you can't feel your legs.
While the Twins have Mitch Garver, Ryan Jeffers and Ben Rortvedt with big league time, they also have some catchers to watch in High-A and Double-A (as well as a few in the lower levels too). This grouping of five hitting prospects includes three catching prospects who, in my opinion, do have the potential to be big leaguers in some role or capacity if things shake out right for them. In addition to three catchers, this group also contains a couple of high-ceiling hitters looking to find their position. They both could take big jumps up this list in 2022.
Let's continue the countdown.
#20 - C/OF Jeferson Morales
2021 STATS: .255/.370/.438, 24 2B, 12 HR, 53 RBI, 18.4 K%, 12.0 BB%, 12/15 SB
Jeferson Morales may not be a household name among Twins fans, but he has been in the organization since signing out of Venezuela in October of 2016. He played in the DSL in 2018 and the GCL in 2019. Like others, he did not have a 2020 season. He began the 2021 season in Ft. Myers where he hit .237/.377/.407 (.783) with 19 doubles and seven homers. He finished by hitting .301/.350/.516 (.866) with five doubles and five homers in 25 games in Cedar Rapids. He also stole 12 bases. Morales is interesting. While he stands just 5-8 (in his spikes, probably), he has shown really good power. He’s got a good approach at the plate, willing to take his walks. He plays behind the plate where he is a good athlete but has a lot of room for improvement. He also played a lot in the outfield as well. He will turn 23 in May. He should start with the Kernels and hope to get to Double-A by season’s end.
#19 - C/1B Alex Isola
2021 STATS: .243/.342/.425, 15 2B, 17 HR, 52 RBI, 21.3 K%, 12.7 BB%, 1/1 SB
The Twins selected Alex Isola out of TCU in the 29th round of the 2019 draft. After signing, he played seven games at Elizabethton before moving up to Cedar Rapids. Like others, he missed the 2020 season, but he was invited to Twins spring training as a part of the depth camp in 2021. When the season began, he returned to Cedar Rapids, which of course was now the High-A affiliate. He is solid behind the plate, strong and athletic with a good, accurate arm (though he threw out just 8% of base stealers in 2021). His season started out slow in terms of batting average, but he was still getting on base. As it approached midseason, he put things together and started adding more and more power. He played a lot at first base just to keep his bat in the lineup most games. He should head back to big-league spring training before jumping up to Wichita to start the season.
#18 - C Jair Camargo
2021 STATS: .236/.279/.418, 7 2B, 13 HR, 36 RBI, 37.9 K%, 4.3 BB%, 3/4 SB
The Twins acquired Jair Camargo in the Brusdar Graterol/Kenta Maeda deal with the Dodgers. He had originally signed in July of 2015 out of Colombia. He moved up the Dodgers system slowly including playing in the Midwest League in 2019. He didn’t play in 2020, of course, but the Twins sent him to Cedar Rapids for the 2021 season. He played in 71 games, most behind the plate, but also a dozen games at first base. He fits the look of a catcher, compact and strong. He has room to improve behind the plate in all areas, but he is a good athlete and has a strong arm. He threw out 23% of base stealers. Camargo does have some real power. He hit 13 homers and several of them went to the opposite field. There isn’t a pitch that Camargo won’t swing at. In 316 plate appearances, he walked just 12 times! That may be the key to any future success he has moving forward. Camargo won’t turn 23 until July.
#17 - 2B/OF Alerick Soularie
2021 STATS: .240/.367/.360, 4 2B, 3 HR, 15 RBI, 24.7 K%, 15.3 BB%, 9/10 SB
The Twins drafted Alerick Soularie in the second round of the 2020 draft after a powerful career at the University of Tennessee. In 76 games between 2019 and 2020, he hit .336/.448/.586 (1.034) with 15 doubles and 16 homers. He also stole ten bases in 11 attempts. 2021 was set to be his professional debut, but a foot injury in spring training meant that his professional debut was delayed until August. After about a week in the FCL to get some live game action, he moved up to the Mighty Mussels and played 28 games. While he didn’t hit for average, he showed patience and a good eye at the plate. He played a combined 22 games at second base and nine games in left field. If I were to guess, I think he’ll end up in the outfield, but of course having some flexibility won’t hurt at all. Soularie is 22 years old. He should spend most of 2022 in Cedar Rapids.
#16 - 2B/3B Yunior Severino
2021 STATS: .273/.372/.430, 29 2B, 2 3B, 8 HR, 70 RBI, 29.4 K%, 12.2 BB%, 3/3 SB
The 22-year-old Yunior Severino has already had an interesting career. He originally signed with Atlanta, but when they were caught for transgressions in their international scouting, he became a free agent and signed quickly with the Twins before the 2018 season. In 2019, he played just 22 games in Cedar Rapids because of a wrist injury. After a lost 2020, he began 2021 in Low-A Ft. Myers. While his overall numbers look solid, the splits are interesting. In 63 games in Ft. Myers, Severino hit just .245/.347/.393 (.740) with 17 doubles and five homers. He moved up to Cedar Rapids and in 35 games, he hit .321/.414/.493 (.907) with 12 doubles and three homers. His 29 doubles were behind only Jose Miranda in the Twins system. Reports are that he hit the ball hard in Ft. Myers, but that league can really hurt offensive output. If he can stay healthy, he could have a breakout season in 2022.
I think this is a pretty interesting group of prospects. First, I think having depth of catchers is a good thing. All three are potentially strong offensively. Each has some defensive talent and some work to do yet. Severino and Soularie both present high-ceiling offensive potential, though each will need to find a defensive home or get better around the diamond. There is certainly talent in this group.
Feel free to discuss and ask questions.