The good news is that the Cincinnati Reds seem to have their franchise catcher at the big league level in Tyler Stephenson. He’s with the team through at least 2026, so the catching situation does have plenty of time to develop. But while the starting catcher position seems locked down, the backup spot has been an unmitigated disaster. Cincinnati churned through six different guys not named Tyler Stephenson this season behind the plate and they hit .170/.210/.258 with 15 walks and 123 strikeouts in 401 plate appearances. Four of those guys are still technically considered prospects, and three are still currently in the organization.
While the Cincinnati Reds Top 25 Prospect List hasn’t yet been updated after the season concluded, it’s last update following the trade deadline didn’t include a single catcher. And as the person who will be making that list in a few weeks I’ll go ahead and spoil it now – it’s highly unlikely any catcher will be on it when it comes out then, too.
Cincinnati has spent some high-round draft picks on catchers in recent years. Jackson Miller was selected 65th overall as the team’s second round pick in 2020. Mat Nelson was taken 35th overall as one of the Reds first round picks in 2021. Logan Tanner was selected 55th overall this past summer as the team’s second round pick.
Miller has battled multiple injuries and played in just three games since being drafted (worth noting that there was no season to play in 2020, but that he missed all of 2022 and almost all of 2021).
Mat Nelson hit .330/.436/.773 at Florida State in 2021, but also struck out 25% of the time that season. His time as a professional has continued to see him strike out a ton – 35% – but the power he showed at Florida State in 2021 has not translated as he’s managed just eight home runs while hitting .215/.307/.360 in 90 games with Dayton and two with the complex league Reds in the last two seasons.
Logan Tanner had a bit of a breakout season in 2021 with Mississippi State, but hit just .285/.387/.425 as a junior in 2022. The Reds selected him in the 2nd round for his outstanding defensive abilities, but questions remain about just how much he’ll hit in the future. He will be 22-years-old next month, so there’s plenty of time for his bat to continue to develop – but his bat is not what he’s known for and even when he “broke out” in 2021 with Mississippi State he still hit just .287.
Catcher is a position where almost everyone – even stars in the big leagues – don’t play every day. The position is physically demanding, guys get beat up back there on foul balls and balls in the dirt, etc. Because of that there was only one catcher who managed to get 300 or more plate appearances in the minors this season and it was Mat Nelson.
No catcher slugged .400 that managed to get 60 plate appearances on the season. No catcher managed to post a .330 on-base percentage who had 60 plate appearances on the season. While catchers do tend to develop as hitters further down the line than their other positional counterparts, the fact is that during the 2022 minor league season the Reds catchers didn’t have anyone who seemed to hit the ball well on the season.
It’s a good thing that the Reds have Tyler Stephenson right now because the farm system as it stands right now doesn’t seem to have anyone close to being ready to step into the big leagues to play the position in a non-emergency back up kind of role.
F. I’m not sure I’ve ever given out an F before in these write ups, but it’s tough to argue any other way here. The catchers didn’t hit at all, anywhere, in the farm system. There’s not a single top 25 caliber prospect in the bunch at this point.
Catcher Offensive Stats
Catcher Defensive Stats