- Full name Francisco Cervelli
- Born 03/06/1986 in Valencia, Venezuela
- Profile Ht.: 6'0" / Wt.: 220 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- Debut 09/18/2008
Organization Prospect Rankings
Jorge Posada is signed through 2011, and the Yankees' best future options at catcher, Jesus Montero and Austin Romine, spent last season in low Class A. Cervelli has advanced further and is far more polished defensively than either, but he lacks their offensive ceiling. He also lost crucial development time in 2008 when he broke his right wrist in a celebrated home-plate collision with Elliot Johnson during spring training, one that led to a brawl between the Yankees and Rays. Cervelli didn't play until mid-June, and after three games, he went down again with a strained left knee. Cervelli was Trenton's everyday catcher in August and performed well as the team won the Eastern League championship, then got a September callup. Cervelli lacks the bat speed and strength to produce more than below-average power, and while he has shown good plate discipline in the minors, he'll have to earn the respect of pitchers at higher levels. Most scouts expect his bat to be short of a big league regular. His defense is first-rate, however, with a plus arm and above-average receiving and blocking skills. Like most catchers, he's a below-average runner. Set to open 2009 in Double-A, Cervelli will have to pick it up offensively if he wants to establish himself in New York before Montero and Romine arrive.
Organizations like to have depth up the middle in the minors. While the Yankees lack second basemen and shortstops (other than Carmen Angelini), they like their center fielders and catchers. Cervelli is by far the closest to the majors of the three catchers ranked on this Top 30 list, but he has the lowest ceiling because he lacks offensive upside. He skipped a level last year and held his own in high Class A until he was sidelined in August after hurting his knee in a home-plate collision. He returned to play winter ball in Venezuela. Cervelli evokes former Yankees prospect Dioner Navarro, who now starts for the Rays, because his above-average catch-and-throw skills are ahead of his bat at this stage of his career. He led the FSL by throwing out 41 percent of basestealers, has a feel for handling pitchers and impressed scouts with his toughness and ability to grind through a season. While he has a good swing, he lacks the premium bat speed or strength to hit for power. The ball doesn't jump off his bat. He does draw some walks, but more advanced pitchers will be more likely to challenge him without fear of reprisal. He's a below-average runner. Cervelli profiles as a backup unless he provides more offensive production. Added to the 40-man roster in November, he's likely to jump to Double-A in 2008 and should soon become Jorge Posada's understudy.
Minor League Top Prospects
Jorge Posada doesn't seem like he'll ever relinquish the Yankees' catching job, but Cervelli should give New York another option behind the plate in a couple of years. He was the consensus best catching prospect in the FSL, beating out Clearwater's Lou Marson for that honor. Managers loved the way Cervelli handles a staff. He frames pitches, blocks balls in the dirt and has a plus arm. He led the league's catchers in fielding percentage (.997) and erasing basestealers (41 percent). He has a polished batting eye and should become a more productive hitter as he matures. He has good bat speed and a level swing that stays in the strike zone for a long time, though he hasn't hit for much power.
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Defensive Catcher in the New York Yankees in 2010
- Rated Best Defensive Catcher in the New York Yankees in 2009
- Rated Best Defensive Catcher in the New York Yankees in 2008
- Rated Best Defensive Catcher in the New York Yankees in 2007