Salvador Perez is the KC Royals’ catcher of the present and foreseeable future. His performance and new four-year, $82 million contract that kicks in next season guarantee that.
And MJ Melendez is rapidly establishing his bona fides as Perez’s heir apparent. After hitting .193 in High-A ball in 2019, Melendez’s 15 home runs, 41 RBIs and .277/.368/.569 Double-A line have everyone’s attention this season.
Kansas City also has Sebastian Rivero currently backing up Perez in Kansas City, and Kale Emshoff playing his first professional season at Low-A Columbia. Both are good backstops in their own right.
Good catchers can be hard to find, though, so the Royals shouldn’t ignore the position when the 2021 Major League Draft kicks off Sunday, then continues Monday and Tuesday. Three young catchers are among the top 20 players in MLB Pipeline’s latest Top 250 draft prospect rankings, and each ought to be on the Royals’ radar.
Pipeline’s top catching draft prospect should have the KC Royals’ eye.
Although signs point to Kansas City taking Vanderbilt pitcher Kumar Rocker with their first pick (seventh overall) Sunday, Henry Davis may give the club a viable and valuable option if Kumar is already off the board. If the Louisville catcher is still available, that is.
And he very well might not be. Six teams pick ahead of the Royals, and Pipeline ranks Davis, 21, the fifth best player in the draft. He’ll be hard to pass—in three years at Louisville, he slashed .337/.435/.565, homered 21 times, and drove in 84 runs in 109 games.
And he hit 15 of those homers in 50 games this season to go with his 48 RBIs and .370/.482/.663 line.
Davis is also good defensively. He threw out 46 percent of would-be base stealers this season.
Don’t be surprised one of the clubs picking before KC—Pittsburgh, Texas, Detroit, Boston, Baltimore or Arizona—snatch Davis up. But if he’s still around when the Royals go on the clock, they should seriously consider picking him. And if Rocker is also on the board, they’ll have a tough decision to make.
Two high school backstops might also be good choices for the KC Royals.
Davis is the lone college catcher among the three in Pipeline’s top 20 who could conceivably be available when Kansas City makes its first pick Sunday evening. The other two—Harry Ford and Joe Mack—are recent high school graduates who Pipeline ranks 13th and 19th, respectively.
Ford, 18, attended North Cobb High School in Georgia. Some might consider him small (5-feet-10, 200 pounds), but Pipeline likes his bat and he doesn’t grade below 50 in any of the critical categories.
Mack, also 18, bats lefthanded, played for Williamsville East in New York, and has power, a decent arm, and impressive pop time.
The KC Royals have 21 picks in this year’s draft. Three top catchers could be good selections.