- Full name Steven Phillip Baron
- Born 12/07/1990 in Miami, FL
- Profile Ht.: 6'0" / Wt.: 205 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Ferguson
- Debut 09/09/2015
Drafted in the C-A round (33rd overall) by the Seattle Mariners in 2009 (signed for $980,000).
View Draft ReportBaron is the centerpiece of Duke's recruiting efforts and has strong academic motivation. He always was considered a defense-first catcher, and that's still the case, but he has made significant progress offensively, pushing him toward the front of a crowded, competitive Florida prep catcher crop. Defensively, Baron stands out, with some scouts rating his arm a 70 on the 20-80 scale. He's an above-average defender with a smooth transfer and good footwork. Baron made strides tightening up his body and getting in better shape from fall to the spring, and scouts noticed. He has holes in his swing and doesn't project to hit for a high average, but a .250-hitting Baron could hit 15 home runs. At worst, Baron's defense should get him to the majors, but to buy him out of Duke, a team will have to believe Baron has enough offensive upside to become a regular.
Organization Prospect Rankings
The Mariners signed Baron away from a Duke commitment for $980,000 as a sandwich pick in 2009, largely on the strength of his defense. He hasn't disappointed in that regard, though he already has raised questions as to whether he can hit enough to be a major league regular. Baron is exceptionally polished behind the plate. With his soft hands, strong and accurate arm and agility, he's years ahead of most high school catchers. He blocks balls very well and has a quick transfer on throws down to second base, throwing out 47 percent of basestealers last year. Whether a pitcher is throwing 88 or 98 mph, it looks the same going into Baron's mitt. He's tough behind the plate and working to become a more vocal leader. Baron's catch-and-throw skills are good enough to get him to the big leagues, but he needs a lot of work offensively. He was overmatched in low Class A last year, necessitating a midseason demotion to Everett. He has the strength and hand-eye coordination to produce offensively, but his swing gets too loopy and long. Baron also has some stiffness and chops down on the ball too much, diminishing his average raw power. Seattle wants him to level his swing and incorporate his lower half more. He runs well for a catcher. Baron hit better after his demotion, which the Mariners hope he can use as a stepping stone to a more productive year when he returns to Clinton in 2011.
The first pick of the sandwich round in 2009, Baron eschewed a Duke scholarship to sign for $980,000. The Mariners skipped him past the Arizona League, challenging him with an assignment in the Appalachian League. Baron's bat didn't respond, but his catching skills worked fine. He shut down running games, flashing a crisp, plus-plus arm and leading Appy League catchers by throwing out 54 percent of basestealers. Baron had no trouble running a pro pitching staff at age 18, having called his own games in high school. He has soft hands, and he blocks and receives the ball expertly. But like Pulaski teammate Gabriel Noriega, Baron projects as a strong defensive player with a below-average bat. He has the strength to hit for average or better power, but his rhythmic swing and contact issues--especially against breaking balls--likely will result in lengthy slumps and poor batting averages. Still, if he reaches his ceiling as a catcher who hits .250 with 12-15 homers per year while stifling the running game, he would have a spot on most every big league club. Baron may not be ready to hit low Class A pitching, so he could open 2010 in extended spring before joining Everett in June.
Minor League Top Prospects
The first pick in the supplemental first round in June, Baron signed for $980,000 and gave up a Duke scholarship. He skipped over the Rookie-level Arizona League to make his pro debut in the Appy League, where he impressed with observers his outstanding defensive tools. But he also hit .179 and demonstrated that his bat will have to catch up to his glove. Baron shut down the running game, flashing a plus-plus arm and leading Appy catchers by throwing out 54 percent of basestealers. He called his own game in high school and had no trouble running a pro pitching staff at age 18. He has soft hands, and blocks and receives the ball expertly. The Mariners see Baron as a rhythm hitter with the strength to hit for good power for the position. A focus on defense capped his offensive ceiling in his debut, and his initial exposure to advanced secondary pitches disrupted his timing. Many scouts question whether he'll ever hit for average, but a catcher with his defensive acumen will be given time to cultivate his offensive skills.
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Defensive Catcher in the Seattle Mariners in 2012
- Rated Best Defensive Catcher in the Seattle Mariners in 2011
- Rated Best Defensive Catcher in the Seattle Mariners in 2010