The High School catcher out of Williamsville, New York will likely be a first-round pick. Now, where he gets selected is another question. Prep catchers don’t have a long history of success, but this year there could be two of them in the top 20 with Joe Mack and Harry Ford. Let’s take a look at which team will land the left-hand hitting backstop.
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Joe Mack, C, Williamsville East (NY)
Weight: 210 lbs.
2021: 5 G – .250/.550/.250 8/4 BB/K rate
As you can see from the stats above, Mack just started his High School season. That small sample is not a true indication of his power but the 8/4 BB/K rate certainly exemplifies his discerning eye at the plate. He has played some travel ball and was selected last year to the Perfect Game All-American Classic.
Mack has an excellent approach at the plate and doesn’t try to do too much. He keeps his hands high and does a good job of keeping them back in the loaded position which allows him to wait on offspeed pitches and also throw the barrel at a fastball. His strength is still developing but Mack already has above-average pop due to his bat speed. He is somewhat of a hit-first guy, but he could turn into a 20-25 HR player when it’s all said and done.
Behind the plate, Mack has an excellent arm which is made even more effective by his pop times which have consistently been timed at 1.8-1.9. His throws to second base are accurate and his footwork and transfers are clean. He actually runs fairly well for a catcher and his baseball IQ is top-notch. There could be a couple of stolen bases per year in his future and he will take the extra base when it is available.
There aren’t many but if we are going to nitpick at this point, Mack has some work to do on his receiving skills. That comes with moving up in an organization and working with pitchers on scouting reports, knowing what his man on the mound has, etc. He has the leadership and work ethic that coaches love, but the ability to manage a game as a field general will have to develop.
Pro Comparison: Joe Mauer
Peak-wise, Mack may not be the total package Mauer was in his prime, but the youngster has a chance to develop into a .300 hitter with even more pop than the long-time Twins catcher. Mauer was also an excellent defensive catcher and Mack may fall a little short of that but he will be at least an average backstop with an above-average arm.
Draft Projection: Round 1, Pick 17, Cincinnati Reds
High School catchers don’t have a great track record although it has seemingly gotten a little better over recent years. The Reds aren’t scared off from taking a High School catcher in the first round. They drafted Tyler Stephenson 11th overall in 2015. As Mack develops his defense, the Reds have the luxury of Stephenson behind the plate for the foreseeable future.
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Main Image Credit: https://www.perfectgame.org/articles/View.aspx?article=18856