- Full name Joseph Patrick Mauer
- Born 04/19/1983 in St. Paul, MN
- Profile Ht.: 6'5" / Wt.: 225 / Bats: L / Throws: R
- School Cretin-Derham Hall
- Debut 04/05/2004
Drafted in the 1st round (1st overall) by the Minnesota Twins in 2001 (signed for $5,150,000).
View Draft ReportLike reigning Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke before him, Mauer is a Cretin-Derham Hall star with a scholarship to play quarterback for Florida State. Some recruiting sources rank Mauer as the top passer in the nation, and he won three national player-of-the-year awards after tying a state record with 41 touchdown throws last fall. He has MLB and NFL potential, and he also averaged nearly 20 points a game for a basketball team that finished third in the state. He could be costly to sign, albeit a cheaper option than Southern California righthander Mark Prior for the hometown Twins with the first pick. Scouts are sold on Mauer's desire to play baseball and don't believe football will stand in his way. His best tool is his bat, and he led all players at the 2000 World Junior Championship with a .559 average and 15 RBIs in eight games. He has exceptional bat speed and drives the ball to all fields. He's athletic for a catcher, and his 6-foot-4, 205-pound frame reminds scouts of the Padres' Ben Davis. Mauer, as would be expected, has a strong arm and natural leadership skills. The scrutiny that comes with being the possible No. 1 choice hasn't bothered him in the least. He hit .553 with nine homers in his first 47 at-bats this spring, and didn't strike out.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Seemingly out of central casting, Mauer grew up about 10 minutes from the Metrodome. He developed into one of the country's top quarterback recruits, signing with Florida State, where he would follow in the footsteps of fellow Cretin-Derham Hall product Chris Weinke. Like Weinke, Mauer signed to play baseball first. Unlike Weinke, Mauer never had to use football as a fallback. Twins scouts saw Mauer more than 100 times as an amateur and had no reservations in picking him No. 1 overall in 2001, even though they passed on Mark Prior in the process. After signing for a club-record $5.15 million, Mauer roared through the minor leagues and was Baseball America's Minor League Player of the Year in 2003. Two of his older brothers also play in the Twins system: Jake, a second baseman, was at Double-A New Britain in 2004; Bill, a righthander, pitched at low Class A Quad Cities. With the trade of A.J. Pierzynski to San Francisco after the 2003 season, Minnesota handed its catching job to Mauer. He had a strong spring but tore the meniscus in his left knee in the second game of the year. After surgery, he faced a four- to five-month rehabilitation. Mauer tried to rush back into a pennant race, suffering a setback that led to a second operation. He didn't play after July 15. There's nothing not to like about Mauer. He has a smooth lefthanded stroke that promises a high career average, if not a batting title or two. He shows strong strike-zone judgment and sprays line drives up the middle and to left-center. Though he hit just nine homers in three minor league seasons, he showed much more power in Minnesota, building the Twins' confidence that he could hit as many as 35-40 homers on an annual basis. He's excellent defensively and worked hard last spring to learn the major league staff and call games to their liking. He blocks balls well, has soft hands and plus arm strength. Only veteran Sandy Alomar is taller among contemporary major league catchers, but Mauer is smooth and sound behind the plate. He has a quick release and is accurate with his throws, shown by the 52 percent of basestealers he nailed in 2003. He shows quiet leadership, simmering confidence and maintains a low profile that makes him popular with teammates. Prior to surgery he ran better and was more athletic than most of his catching counterparts. There is some concern about that at this point. Inexperience is a factor, as Mauer skipped Triple-A and went straight to the majors before rehab sent him back to the minors. Rumors have cropped up about a possible position change for Mauer. With Corey Koskie leaving as a free agent, there has been talk about Mauer moving to the hot corner to take pressure off his knees. The Twins insist he'll remain behind the plate and should have no further setbacks. They expect him to become an all-star in short order.
Growing up in St. Paul as a Twins fan just 10 minutes from the Metrodome, Mauer seemed destined to play for the hometown team. He had options coming out of high school in 2001, however. Mauer was regarded as one of the top quarterback recruits in the nation and nearly followed fellow Cretin-Derham Hall grad Chris Weinke to Florida State. Twins scouts saw Mauer play more than 100 times as an amateur, and ultimately chose him over Mark Prior with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. While Prior already has become a star in the majors, Mauer isn't too far behind. He won BA's Minor League Player of the Year award in 2003 and is set to make his big league debut at 20 when he opens this season as Minnesota's regular catcher. His .338 average led all minor league catchers last season. Mauer was a member of the U.S. team that fell short of the Olympic qualifying tournament, though he was inexplicably left out of the starting lineup in the deciding game against Mexico. His older brothers Jake, a second baseman, and Bill, a righthander, also are Minnesota farmhands. Mauer combines a picture-perfect lefthanded stroke with impeccable strike-zone judgment to generate high batting averages and on-base percentages. His natural approach and swing path lend themselves more to a batting title than a home run crown. He's geared to hit line drives back up the middle and toward left-center. Defensively, Mauer had no equals at the minor league level. Some scouts say he'll be the best receiver in the American League when he debuts in April. Despite his size--only Sandy Alomar Jr. is bigger among major league catchers--Mauer is an expert at blocking pitches with his soft hands and moves quickly on balls in front of the plate. Outstanding arm strength gives him a third present 80 tool on the 20-80 scouting scale to go with his bat and his defensive ability. Mauer has a quick release and consistently puts his throws on the bag with uncanny accuracy, which led to him nabbing 52 percent of basestealers last year. He's a quiet leader who exudes confidence but maintains a low profile. The Twins wanted Mauer to become more comfortable at running a pitching staff, and he did just that. He runs better and has more athleticism than most catchers. Mauer really doesn't have any weaknesses. He has just nine homers in 277 pro games, though Twins scouts insist he has the power to one day hit 35-40 in a season if he wants to. He may add more loft to his swing as he develops, and showed signs of doing that in Double-A. Most scouts give Mauer the nod over Devil Rays shortstop B.J. Upton as the best prospect in the game. The Twins cleared Mauer's path to the majors by dealing all-star A.J. Pierzynski to the Giants in November. Mauer, who will bat seventh or eighth to start 2004, is an early favorite for American League rookie of the year. There's no reason he shouldn't develop into a perennial all-star.
Holding the No. 1 pick in the 2001 draft, the Twins opted for Baseball America High School Player of the Year Joe Mauer instead of consensus top talent Mark Prior, who was out of their price range. Mauer was hardly a consolation prize, though. He was one of the top quarterback recruits in the nation and nearly followed fellow Cretin-Derham Hall product Chris Weinke to Florida State. Mauer also starred on the basketball court, averaging nearly 20 points a game. He led Cretin-Derham to state titles in all three sports. The Twins signed Mauer to a franchise-record $5.15 million deal, and he started his pro career by hitting .400 for Rookie-level Elizabethton. He raked for low Class A Quad City in his first full season, which ended early thanks to double-hernia surgery. He was back by the end of instructional league following six weeks on the sideline. His older brother Jake played second base for Quad City last year. Mauer shows outstanding balance at the plate and generates outstanding bat speed with a smooth, classic lefthanded stroke. A natural hitter, he covers the plate well, understands the strike zone and makes consistent, hard contact to all fields. He has a knack for finding the sweet spot when he connects with the ball. The ball carries well off his bat, and he'll develop above-average power as he continues to bulk up his loose, athletic frame and learns which pitches to turn on. He already shows plus power in batting practice. Mauer's arm is near the top of the scale, but more important, he's mechanically sound with a quick release and his throws are right on the bag. Mauer benefited from working with veteran catcher Tom Prince in spring training. Mauer needs to learn the nuances of the game, including working with pitchers during a game. With his makeup and feel, he'll be a complete receiver. More at-bats will help him understand counts and when to attack pitches. Mauer is primed for a speedy ascent. A.J. Pierzynski's emergence will help the Twins bide their time, though it will be tempting to promote him aggressively and he might not last the season at high Class A Fort Myers. He'll own the top spot on this list until he takes over in Minnesota.
General manager Terry Ryan graded Mauer higher than any high school prospect he had ever seen, with three exceptions: Alex Rodriguez, Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2001 draft, Mauer capped his amateur career by leading Cretin-Derham Hall to the Minnesota state title and winning Baseball America's High School Player of the Year award. He was a three-sport star in high school, winning national football player of the year awards and tying a state record with 41 touchdown passes as a senior. He also averaged nearly 20 points a game on the basketball court. Mauer signed a letter of intent to follow Cretin-Derham alum Chris Weinke to play quarterback at Florida State, but the Twins put any doubts about Mauer's athletic future to rest by signing the local product to a $5.15 million bonus, the second-highest ever for a player signing with the team that drafted him. Mauer hit .400 in his first pro summer and was an easy choice as the Rookie-level Appalachian League's No. 1 prospect. Mauer played at Elizabethton with his brother Jake, an infielder drafted in the 23rd round last year. Though he didn't homer in his pro debut, Mauer has excellent bat speed and gets good extension. The ball carries off his bat to all fields. He tied a national mark by homering in seven consecutive games in high school. He struck out only once in four years at Cretin-Derham Hall, a testament to his natural hitting ability. Mauer is so athletically gifted that one scout said he could be a top-of-the-line defender at first base or third base, if not catcher. Behind the plate, he has a rocket arm and unusual quickness for someone his size. He has a quick release and the ball comes out of his hand with ease. Mauer's makeup matches his talent. He is remarkably polished for a high school player and needs experience more than anything. If he fine-tunes his mechanics, he'll become a top-notch catcher. Mauer was the first high school backstop drafted No. 1 overall since Danny Goodwin in 1971 and the track record of prep catchers taken in the top five picks isn't promising. Of the 14, only Darrell Porter and Mike Lieberthal have stayed at the position and fulfilled their potential (reserving judgment on Ben Davis). The Twins are confident he'll buck those odds. Mauer will make his full-season debut at low Class A Quad City in 2002 and could reach Minnesota by 2004.
Minor League Top Prospects
Ten games into the season, Mauer's average sat at .184 and he had been held hitless for three straight games. But he quickly showed he could handle a pitcher's league, batting .364 and never going more than one game without a hit the rest of the way. Managers unanimously chose him as the FSL's top prospect. Mauer led Fort Myers to a first-half Western Division title with his productive bat, defensive skills and instinctive understanding of the game before a midseason promotion to Double-A. All of his tools rate average or better, and managers loved the way he managed the game. "He's the total package," Tampa manager Bill Masse said. "Number one, you want your catcher to receive, block and throw well, and he does all three well-above-average. You throw in his bat and you've got about as top a prospect as you're going to get."
He's just 20, but EL managers talked about Mauer like he was a 10-year veteran. Behind the plate, he's extremely fluid, despite his 6-foot-4 frame. He flashed an 80 arm with a quick release, throwing out a league-best 47 percent of basestealers, but managers were just as impressed with his ability to call a game and settle down pitchers. At the plate, Mauer shows an advanced ability to hit to all fields and excellent pitch recognition. The only knock against him is that he has yet to hit for power. Unlike many young hitters, Mauer needs to become more pull-conscious. He hit only five home runs in 509 at-bats between high Class A and Double-A this year, and he has a career .423 slugging percentage. But while Mauer hasn't shown much pop yet, few scouts and managers expect it to be a long-term problem. "He'll develop more power," Machemer said. "He has a great smooth swing, and he has size and strength."
Mark Prior was the consensus top prospect in the 2001 draft, and he needed just seven weeks in the minors before he was ready for the majors. Unable to determine what it would take to sign Prior, who ultimately received a record guarantee of $10.5 million, the Twins chose Mauer. There's absolutely no feeling they wound up with a consolation prize. Interestingly, managers raved about his skills behind the plate while scouts believed his offense was ahead of his defense. Both camps agreed he only needs time to become an all-around catching star. Mauer should be a .300 hitter capable of 20-30 homers per year. He went deep just four times in 2002, but he's strong and his power will develop as he learns to pull more pitches. His stroke and approach are solid, and he walked more than he struck out. "He hits like Adam Dunn did when Adam Dunn was in Rockford in 1999," Beloit manager Don Money said. "Adam Dunn didn't pull the ball. He hit the other way, hit the other way, hit the other way like Joe Mauer did. Now look at him." A Florida State quarterback recruit and high school basketball star, Mauer is extremely athletic for a catcher. He has a strong, accurate arm and quick, effortless release, which allowed him to rank third in the MWL by throwing out 42 percent of basestealers. His biggest needs are learning to call a game and handle a pitching staff.
Mauer was the first prospect mentioned by every manager, and it had little to do with his reputation preceding him. Skippers raved about his fluid, effortless swing that sprays line drives up the middle and to the opposite field. He also impressed with his ability to stay inside of the ball, as well as his excellent eye at such a young age. While Mauer still is learning to pull the ball, no one had any doubt that ability would come with time. As a hitter, he was compared to Don Mattingly and John Olerud. Managers also liked Mauer's abilities behind the plate. He received high marks for his mobility and footwork, his handling of pitchers, his above-average arm and his overall intelligence. "Defensively, everything is there," Princeton manager Edwin Rodriguez said. "He has good mobility and good agility behind the plate. His arm is loose and strong, and his throws are effortless. I think he is going to be a complete ballplayer." "I like his general demeanor," Pulaski manager Bruce Crabbe said. "He's an aggressive kid who runs well for a catcher. He's a take-charge guy. Hustles all the time. He's an all-around advanced kid for an 18-year-old. He could have played higher than this league."
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Strike-Zone Discipline in the American League in 2012
- Rated Best Defensive Catcher in the American League in 2010
- Rated Best Defensive Catcher in the American League in 2009
- Rated Best Hitter for Average in the American League in 2009
- Rated Best Defensive Catcher in the American League in 2008
- Rated Best Hitter for Average in the American League in 2006
- Rated Best Defensive Catcher in the Minnesota Twins in 2005
- Rated Best Hitter for Average in the Minnesota Twins in 2005
- Rated Best Defensive Catcher in the Midwest League in 2002