Analytics College

Statistically Speaking: Best NCAA Catchers of 2020

With the 2020 MLB Draft coming up in June, let’s take a look at which players, from a numbers point-of-view, had strong seasons this past spring, as well as whether the top names lived up to their billing.

2020 NCAA Catchers

Before we get started, it’s important to keep a few things in mind. One, this article will only cover Division I players. Second, since most college teams had their seasons end on March 11 due to the coronavirus pandemic, these numbers are only from the first month of the 2020 regular season. It’s a small sample size, but unfortunately this is all the data we have.

With that said, let’s take a look at some of the statistical star catchers from 2020.

Buckeyes’ Dingler Was Dominant in 2020

Ohio State C Dillon Dingler‘s name has been thrown around in various first-round mocks for weeks, and for good reason. Even though the season ended in March, Dingler hit five home runs in just 13 games, one more than his previous career-high in 2019 (4).

Among qualified Division I catchers in 2020, Dingler finished 20th in batting average (.340), fifth in slugging (.760), seventh in OPS (1.164), and third in ISO (.420). While it would have been nice to see what Dingler could have done in a full junior season, the Ohio State catcher did more than enough in the shortened 2020 season to impress scouts. The sweet-swinging Dingler is essentially a lock to go in the first round, and he may be the first catcher off the board in 2020.

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Wells and Bailey Kept Their Stock High

Arizona C Austin Wells and NC State’s Patrick Bailey both entered the 2020 season as potential first-round picks. Both kept their stocks high after relatively good but short seasons.

Let’s start with Wells, who finished tied for second on the Wildcats in runs batted in (14) and first in slugging (.589). Wells burst onto the scene in 2019, winning the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Award after a torrid first year in Arizona (.353/.462/.552, 27 XBH (5 HR), 60 RBI). The 20-year old continued to mash in 2020, smashing eight extra-base hits while posting a strong SO/BB ratio (14/17 in 2020). Among qualified catchers, Wells finished 2020 sixth in on-base percentage (.527), ninth in batting average (.375), and 18th in SLG, maintaining his status as one of the best hitters in the NCAA.

Patrick Bailey, meanwhile, also had a fine year at the plate. While Bailey’s calling card may be his prowess behind the plate, the Wolfpack’s starting catcher finished in the top 10 among catchers in OPS (10th-1.151) and ISO (.389), while also posting a pretty impressive on-base percentage (.466).

Both Wells and Bailey had high expectations entering 2020, and for the most part, the two of them played up to their expectations. Bailey should go in the bottom half of the first round, while Wells’ bat, plus his versatility (Wells spent time at first base and the outfield in Arizona) could get him drafted on Day 1.

Emshoff and Taylor Raise Their Stock

Two catchers who raised their 2020 stock were Kale Emshoff and Carson Taylor. Arkansas-Little Rock C Kale Emshoff missed all of the 2019 season due to Tommy John surgery, but he returned to action in 2020 with a vengeance. Emshoff smacked seven home runs (third among catchers) in 17 games, while his 1.327 OPS was second among qualified catchers (only Eastern Kentucky C A.J. Lewis had a higher OPS (1.384)). The senior catcher is currently ranked the 147th best player in the 2020 MLB Draft according to MLB.com.

Virginia Tech catcher Carson Taylor, meanwhile, also had a strong 2020 to put himself in position to be drafted. Taylor led the Hokies this past season in runs batted in (20), batting average (.431), and OPS (1.230). While the sample size was small, Taylor’s talent his legit. The 21-year old’s bat speed is highly regarded among scouts, and the switch-hitting catcher also displayed great discipline at the plate while at Virginia Tech (career SO/BB ratio of 26/32).

2021 Catchers To Watch

Louisville C Henry Davis batted .280 in 2019 while posting sub-.400 on-base and slugging percentages. 2020 was a different story for Davis, who had a breakout year for the Louisville Cardinals. Davis finished the shortened season with a .372 batting average while finishing sixth in the nation in OPS (1.179), seventh in slugging percentage (.698), and eighth in OPS (.326). Davis’ SO/BB ratio (4/8) wasn’t too bad, either.

Another ACC catcher, Miami’s Adrian Del Castillo, also had a fine sophomore season. After a great freshman season (.331/.418/.576, 34 XBH, 12 HR, 72), Del Castillo may not have had time in 2020 to replicate 2019, but his second season in South Florida was strong. The 20-year old batted .358, and Del Castillo finished 2020 in the top 20 among catchers in OPS (1.025).


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