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Patrick Bailey vs. Austin Wells: 2020 MLB Draft Prospect Showdown, Catcher Rankings

Leading up to the 2020 draft on June 10, we’ll preview each position group by comparing and contrasting two of the top players in the mix. Today is catchers, led by Patrick Bailey and Austin Wells.

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Outfielders | Corner Infielders| Lefthanders| Righthanders


Scouts seem to be higher on Wells’ pure hit tool, though both catchers have similar college production, albeit with one extra season for Bailey. Their numbers are glaringly different when considering summer stats. Wells hit .308/.389/.526 with seven home runs in the Cape Cod League and Bailey hit .231/.333/.308 in a smaller sample with USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team. There are more swing-and-miss concerns with Bailey than Wells, whose swing is purer. EDGE: Wells

Power: Both players have above-average power potential, so this one could come down to who is able to get to more of that power in games. Wells seems to get to his power more easily, and has plus raw juice, while Bailey has more above-average power. EDGE: Wells.

Speed: This is the least important tool for a catcher, but scouts have called Wells an average runner. He went a perfect 7-for-7 in stolen base attempts at Arizona. EDGE: Wells

Fielding: This is where Bailey gains a big advantage as the best catch-and-throw prospect in the 2020 draft class. He has exceptional hands, blocking ability and he is one of the rare college catchers to call his own game. He has a chance to be a plus-plus defender while many teams think Wells might have to move off the position. EDGE: Bailey

Arm: Wells has shown plus arm strength at times, but he’s also dealt with elbow issues that have limited him and caused him to display more of a fringy arm. Bailey has a consistently plus arm. EDGE: Bailey

X Factor: How teams evaluate catchers today could be wildly different in a few years, when automatic strike zones will probably be a part of the major league landscape. Presumably, catcher framing will be less valuable with robo umps calling the pitches, which would help Wells and hurt Bailey. But controlling the running game with arm strength and quick, fluid throwing mechanics—not to mention blocking balls in the dirt with runners on base—should always be priority skills at the position. That is where Bailey shines. EDGE: Bailey

Scout’s take on Bailey: “Elite catch-and-throw skills. I don’t like his swing much but he has hit in the ACC for two years . . . Could be an average power guy and a 40 bat. If you have plus defensive skills that’s an all-star-caliber player . . . I would say he’s the best defensive catcher in the country.”

Scout’s take on Wells: “He’s more like Matt Thaiss than anyone else, though he has more power than Thaiss . . . It’s plus power for Wells, good plate discipline, sees the ball really, really well. Discipline is plus and contact ability is average to a tick better.”

SPOTLIGHT: Top 2020 Catchers

Strength: 4 stars

This year’s catching talent runs deep, though it lacks the impact standout of an Adley Rutschman, the No. 1 overall pick last year. Austin Wells has the most offensive upside in this year’s draft class but faces long odds to stick behind the plate.

First-Round Talents
No. Rank Player School State HIT POW RUN FLD ARM
1 14 Patrick Bailey North Carolina State NC 45 55 40 70 60
2 18 Tyler Soderstrom HS—Turlock CA 55 60 30 40 60
3 21 Austin Wells Arizona AZ 60 55 50 40 45
Second-Round Talents
No. Rank Player School State HIT POW RUN FLD ARM
4 37 Dillon Dingler Ohio State OH 50 55 40 55 70
5 38 Drew Romo HS—The Woodlands TX 40 50 45 70 60
6 48 Kevin Parada HS—Los Angeles CA 55 55 40 50 55
Third- To Fifth-Round Talents
No. Rank Player School State HIT POW RUN FLD ARM
7 100 Jackson Miller HS—New Port Richey FL 50 45 40 55 50
8 101 Casey Opitz Arkansas AR 40 40 40 60 60
9 116 Daniel Susac HS—Carmichael CA 45 60 40 50 60
10 131 Carlos Perez HS—Miami FL 40 50 40 60 60


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