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Assessing Cubs catching prospects

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Miguel Amaya is close to the big leagues, but the Cubs have other good catchers in the system.

Photo by Buck Davidson/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Last week, I looked at some of the Cubs developing outfielders. Without a useful plan in place to internally develop players across the field, the team is in trouble long-term. Other organizations have improved, and none is laughably bad. For the Cubs to be valid long-term, hitting each season on something or another would be very helpful.

For some, the catching position should be the least of the team's concerns.

As I did for the outfielders, these catching prospects are listed in alphabetical order.

Brayan Altuve

An international bonus signing in July 2019, Altuve remains a bit of a mystery. Last fall, when both Mesa and Boca Chica had camps going, Altuve wasn't listed as playing anywhere. Arizona Phil at The Cub Reporter lists him with the A-Ball options.

Miguel Amaya

The Cubs’ top-ranked catching prospect, Amaya represents as the principal option in Double-A Tennessee in 2021. If he's better then the league, Triple-A beckons. However, development on offense and defense are both a portion of the assessment.

Moises Ballesteros

Signed internationally last month for a $1.5 million dollar signing bonus, he's ticketed for Mesa for Extended Spring Training. If he represents against the most experienced pitchers he's ever faced in that environment, he'll likely start at Mesa, as opposed to Boca Chica. Regardless where Ballesteros plays for his first game with a box score, he's years from MLB time.

Continuing to add high-end talent across the diamond, regardless the source, is a traditional way of pushing everyone to their best. It doesn't work that all hit their peak, which is why forcing competition makes so much sense. The long-term piece could be a seven-figure signing, or a third-day afterthought.

Ethan Hearn

A prep selection in the sixth round of the 2019 Draft, Hearn benefited that year from the Cubs having two AZL teams. Since any extent of development in 2020 is behind a curtain of secrecy, a reasonable guess. All catchers have numerous traits that need developing, and whoever gets the starts in Myrtle Beach will have some development to monitor.

P.J. Higgins

An infielder at Norfolk, Virginia's Old Dominion University, Higgins has emerged as an option for MLB time in 2021. He's as balanced between offense and defense as most candidates, and has just enough versatility to take some time at third. He's not that far removed from Taylor Davis, with more speed. And perhaps a bit less pop.

Once the season revs up, if a catching call-up is required, Higgins makes more sense than Amaya, who should play most of the time. As to how he would respond to MLB pitching would be educational for me.

Ronnier Quintero

A big-money signing in the July 2019 international class, Quintero hasn't played in a pro game with a recorded box score. Most of his work in Instructs in Mesa was catching bullpen sessions. Catchers need to be multi-faceted in their development to advance. Where Quintero lands in a "must eliminate these unimportant minor league games from being played" environment is fascinating. Probably Mesa.

Jonathan Soto

An international signing in 2016, he reached the now non-existent short-season level in rapid order. Despite two chances, his success didn't follow. Soto looks to potentially be slotted at South Bend, as the Cubs don't have a legitimate option at every level.

Bryce Windham

A 32nd Round pick from Old Dominion, Windham will try to channel his inner-Higgins. He carved in the AZL in his first fractional season. Myrtle Beach or South Bend could loom in May, either as a primary or reserve option.

Takeaways

While the Cubs have quality and depth, keeping an eye open for draft day options still makes sense if the top name on the board is a catcher. Assuming that one or two guys will necessarily thrive isn't advised in baseball. Catcher needn't be a priority to get a top six round selection.