Draft Prospect Watch: Two College Catchers with First Round Possibilities

The 2020 Major League draft will be held on June 10-12 (we don’t know if the dates will change yet), with the Pittsburgh Pirates making the seventh overall pick on day one of the event. They also have the 31st and 44th overall picks that day. Each Saturday, we will take an in depth look at one prospect who could be a good fit for that seventh overall pick, as well as another who rates a little lower and fits better with those two lower picks. In case you missed it, here’s our draft preview article.

We have posted four Draft Prospect Watch articles so far, which are linked here:

Nick Gonzales and Jordan Westburg

Asa Lacy, JT Ginn and Emerson Hancock

Jordan Walker and Zac Veen

Garrett Mitchell and Freddy Zamora

I don’t know if it’s legal or not, but yesterday’s article about lower level catching prospects, which was part two of our “Addressing a Need” series, is now also serving as part one of a three-part series about catchers. Today we are going to look at two of the top college catchers in this draft class. Tomorrow will be a look at two of the top high school catchers, both first round possibilities as well. I thought about putting all four catchers in one article, but I thought it would be a little overkill with the videos. With yesterday’s MLB announcement, we also have some time to kill, so we saved some content for tomorrow. We will have the normal Saturday morning draft article as well, but these two articles work well with the catcher article from yesterday.

Catchers Austin Wells and Patrick Bailey look like two first round possibilities out of college this year. Wells attends Arizona, while Bailey goes to North Carolina State. Here are their rankings from Fangraphs, MLB Pipeline and Baseball America:

Fangraphs: Bailey 31, Wells 37

Pipeline: Bailey 21, Wells 23

BA: Bailey 17, Wells 20

Bailey ranks higher for all three sources so we will start with him. He’s listed at 6’2″, 192 pounds and turns 21 years old shortly before the draft. Bailey gives you a guarantee to stick behind the plate, thanks in part to a strong arm and solid defensive skills. BA calls him one of the best “catch-and-throw” backstops in the country. Pipeline gives him 55 (above average) rankings for both his defense and arm. Fangraphs isn’t quite as high on him, saying he’s an average catcher with an above average arm. Whichever ranking you prefer, there seems to be a consensus that he sticks behind the plate.

The question here seems to be how much he will hit. Fangraphs calls his offense average, while Pipeline ranks him as a 45 hitter with average power. BA seems to like him a little more at the plate and that shows a bit in their higher ranking. Bailey is a switch-hitter and BA says that he has above average power from both sides of the plate.

Here’s a video from 2080 Baseball, showing swings from both sides of the plate, in practice and games.

2080 Baseball also has a video from the day after the previous video was shot


Austin Wells is a draft-eligible sophomore. He’s 6’1″, 200 pounds and bats from the left side. Wells turns 21 in July. If you like a catcher with a strong bat, then Wells is your best bet here. If you prefer defense and an average bat, then you go with Bailey. MLB Pipeline gives Wells a 55 grade for both hitting and power, while the other two sources give him high praise for his hitting, with the highlight being his summer performance in the Cape Cod League as a freshman. He has a great eye at the plate, with the ability to make consistent hard contact. He has great bat speed and he uses the entire field.

The defense is lagging behind here, partially due to some inexperience stemming from an arm injury while in high school, plus the fact that he’s a sophomore and obviously not getting any game experience at this time. Pipeline gives him a 45 grade for fielding and 40 for an arm. No one writes him off as a catcher, but there’s a possibility that his defense could hold his advanced bat back, so a move could make sense.

Here’s a video of Wells from the Cape Cod League, courtesy of Prospect Live

Here’s a video of Wells as he’s mic’d up behind the plate. Not a good scouting video obviously, but he seems like a good personality.

Neither of these players looks to be a good pick at seventh overall, even if you trust the source highest on him. However, you’re looking at one of them being available when the Pirates make the 31st overall pick. If you’re looking at the weakness at catcher, then you’re going to watch Bailey, who is rated higher by all three sources.

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