Welcome back to Kings of Kauffman's continuing series of stories profiling some of the KC Royals organization's top prospects. Up today is catcher Carter Jensen.
Carter Jensen, a talented catcher the Royals selected in the third round of the 2021 amateur draft, may find himself in an unenviable position before the coming season ends. Currently considered the organization's seventh-best prospect by MLB Pipeline, he's nevertheless running the risk of disappearing into the crowd of good catchers and catching prospects the Royals are lucky enough to call their own.
At the apex of their catching pyramid is, of course, Salvador Perez, the eight-time All-Star, five-time Gold Glover, and four-time Silver Slugger winner who still has at least two seasons left on his club record $82 million contract. Freddy Fermin, coming off a superb rookie season, backs him up in Kansas City, while Logan Porter, who made his big league debut last season and is a non-roster invitee to this year's spring training, could find his way back to Kauffman Stadium this season..
The Royals also have among their catching corps Kale Emshoff and major league veteran Sandy León at Triple-A Omaha and Luca Tresh at Double-A Northwest Arkansas. And last but not least are Blake Mitchell, last year's top KC draft pick and, per MLB Pipeline, the best prospect in the organization, and Ramon Ramírez, to whom Prospects Live bestows that same honor.
Where exactly Jensen stands among all those catchers, and others in the Kansas City system, is a status known only by the Royals. Certain, though, is that he's still high on the Royals' list.
But could that change?
Carter Jensen has mixed results to show for his first two pro seasons
Jensen signed with the Royals not long after they drafted him and, for his first professional action, headed to the Arizona Complex League, where he slashed .281/.388/.404 OBP in 19 games split between the organization's two Complex clubs.
The 2022 season, his first full campaign, was longer and statistically much different. Yes, his OBP remained strong at .363, but his average fell to .226 and his SLG to .382 in 113 games at Single-A Columbia.
Unfortunately, last season, which Jensen spent at High-A Quad Cities, was worse. Each component of his line — .a .211 average, .356 OBP, and .363 SLG — dropped below their 2022 levels. Encouraging, though, was that Jensen's 11 home runs equaled his previous' season's total. And even though his OBP didn't match previous levels, he still walked an excellent 18.5% of the time.
Jensen is a highly-ranked prospect but his battle with the bat is a tussle he needs to win, and win soon, if he wants to figure prominently in the Royals' future. Prolonged weakness at the plate will only hurt his chances of making it to the majors.
Predicting Carter Jensen's 2024 season with the KC organization
Jensen will be in big league camp as one of the Royals' non-roster invitees when pitchers and catchers report to spring training Feb. 14; he went hitless in five Cactus League at-bats last year.
Where he goes after that remains to be seen. The Royals could send him back to Quad Cities for more shots at High-A pitching, which probably isn't a bad idea. But he's certain to reach Double-A before the season ends. Triple-A Omaha is a more likely destination for 2025 than 2024 ... unless his bat gets much hotter than it's been.
Wherever he plays this season, hitting well will help him avoid getting lost in the club's behind-the-plate crowd.