While the San Francisco Giants current Minor League system isn’t perceived to be strong by many (ranked 28th among MLB clubs by Baseball America for 2013), there is talent within the ranks. While a lot of that talent is in the lower levels of the organization with names like Kyle Crick, Clayton Blackburn, and Chris Stratton among the better known, several promising prospects are peppered throughout the organization. One position of depth is catcher.
With the development of NL MVP Buster Posey into one of the top players in the game, it seems that position is set for a while for the Giants. However, it is perceived that eventually he will move to 1st base; even if he doesn’t we all know Posey will need rest from time to time like most catchers, and for the foreseeable future will get the occasional start at the corner.
Last season the Giants traded highly regarded catching prospect Tommy Joseph along with Nate Schierholtz to Philadelphia for Hunter Pence. Hector Sanchez has had a disappointing, albeit injury filled season in 2013 but is still young, and Guillermo Quiroz is a veteran stopgap for the short term. So let’s take a look at a couple of prospects to look out for in the future barring any trade: Johnny Monell and Andrew Susac.
Monell has been in the Giants organization since 2007, a 30th round draft pick out of Seminole CC in Florida. He hits with power from the left side of the plate, and has had an impressive first half in Fresno hitting .302 with 15 HR’s 43 RBI and a .931 OPS. The .302 average is a bit higher than what he has done the last few years in AA and A ball, and the 15 HR’s at this point in the season makes him poised to set a career high in that category (19 HR’s in 2010 with San Jose).
The knock on Monell seems to be inconsistent defense. According to Andrew Baggarly over at CSN Bay Area back in Spring Training: “Defense remains the priority, and Guillermo Quiroz is considered a better backstop. Monell has worked hard to change a reputation as a spotty defender, and it helps that he has above average arm strength.” Monell is also 27 years old, a year older than Posey, so it is unclear how realistic it is for him to be a long term contributor at the catcher position. However if he keeps hitting the way he is, Monell may force the issue and get a call to the big club, or at the very least a September cup of coffee.
Andrew Susac was a 2nd round pick of the Giants in 2011, 86th overall, out of Oregon State University. In his first season with the Giants organization in 2012, Susac hit .244 with 9 HR’s 52 RBI and .731 OPS for San Jose. Not eye popping numbers, but they have improved to the tune of .265 11 HR’s 38 RBI and .862 OPS in 2013 for AA Richmond. Baseball America ranks Susac as the 13th overall rated prospect in the Giants organization, and MLB.com ranks him 17th, with both having him as the top rated catcher in the system.
The 23 year old right handed hitting catcher has been compared to Carlos Santana of the Cleveland Indians by scout.com “…a player with strong power potential and a great eye at the plate. Like Santana, Susac is prone to a low batting average, plenty of strikeouts and prolonged slumps. Still, the upside is definitely there.” As with Monell, his defense is seen as improving, but still needs some work to be big league ready.
An interesting note, Susac was the battery mate at Oregon State with another current Giants minor leaguer and San Jose closer (until a recent call up to AA), Josh Osich. Is this possibly a future combo in San Francisco as well?
Buster Posey will obviously be the catcher in black and orange for quite some time. Susac and Monell are a couple of promising prospects to watch out for if the Giants ever decide to shift Posey to another position, and both quite possibly could serve as a trade chip if they decide to go that route. Whatever the case, future depth at the catcher position is looking up. Stay tuned.
Follow Andrew Susac on Twitter: @andrewsusac
Follow Johnny Monell on Twitter: @JMoE220