The Padres promoted heavy-hitting catcher Jason Hagerty to Double-A San Antonio this week. Hagerty is the top catching prospect in the San Diego organization and one of the best (and most underrated) in baseball.
Let’s take a quick look at this fast-rising prospect.
Like many catchers, Hagerty took a while to develop. He was drafted in the fifth round of 2009 out of Miami and managed just a .225/.335/.399 batting line in his pro debut, despite being a 21-year-old with plenty of college experience playing in the lowly Northwest League.
But he burst on the radar last season, hitting .302/.423/.494 with Low-A Fort Wayne, racking up 88 walks and hitting 14 homers–an impressive feat for a backstop.
Hagerty then started this year in the high-offense California League, and he hit .311/.386/.518 there, amassing a whopping 25 doubles in just 68 games.
It’s worth noting that his stellar K/BB ratio of 2010 has dropped considerably–just 62/26 in those 68 games, but Hagerty’s a switch-hitting catcher with solid patience and the ability to get extra-base hits, and there are very few catchers in the majors or minors with that sort of package.
When he was drafted in 2009, Hagerty was thought to be a poor defensive catcher who might have to move off the position. But he’s put those worries to rest, as his good arm has allowed Hagerty to catch over 30% of basestealers in each of the last two seasons, and he has just 15 passed balls in 2010-11, certainly a reasonable number for that level of the minors. His catcher defense likely won’t be stellar, but he should certainly be acceptable in that area of the game.
While Hagerty may not be the next Jorge Posada, switch-hitting offensive catchers with decent defensive ability don’t come around very often, and Hagerty’s doubles-oriented stroke should be a perfect fit for Petco Park down the line. He looks to be the Padres’ catcher of the future, and how he fares with his latest promotion will dictate his timetable–the jump from the California League to the Texas League often does some strange things to hitters.