Prep Baseball Report

2024 MLB Draft: Cross Checking the Top College Catchers

David Seifert
Director of College Scouting


How good is this year’s crop of college catching prospects?

The 2024 college catching draft class has two likely first-rounders in Caleb Lomavita (Cal) and Malcolm Moore (Stanford). A third, Walker Janek (Sam Houston State), could also find his way into the top 30 overall picks. In terms of high round talent and depth, college catching could be categorized as a four-star (out of five) year.

Since 2015 there has been just four times when two college catchers were selected in the first round (top 30 overall picks) of the MLB Draft.

2022: Kevin Parada (Georgia Tech), Daniel Susac (Arizona)
2020: Patrick Bailey (NC State), Austin Wells (Arizona)
2019: Adley Rutschman (Oregon State), Shea Langeliers (Baylor)
2016: Zach Collins (Miami, FL), Matt Thaiss (Virginia)

Henry Davis (Louisville) was selected No. 1 overall in 2021, but the next catcher from the collegiate ranks wasn’t until pick No. 35 Mat Nelson (Florida State). And Joey Bart (Georgia Tech) was chosen second overall in 2018, but the next college catcher was Ryan Jeffers (UNC-Wilmington) at 58th overall in the second round.

In 2017 there was not a single college catcher selected in the first round. Daulton Varsho (UW-Milwaukee) who was selected in the second round at No. 68 overall was the first. He, like so many other college catchers, put away the tools of ignorance after just three seasons in professional baseball and is now exclusively an outfielder.

2024 Top Ten:

1- Caleb Lomavita- At the top of the class, Lomavita is a well-rounded receiver who profiles to remain behind the plate over the long term. Defensively, he has plus arm strength, soft hands and natural receiving abilities. At the plate he’s an aggressive hitter with some pop in his bat that has produced 14 home runs, to go along with a .322 batting average this season.

2- Malcolm Moore
- One of the top rated prospects in the ’22 prep class to make it to campus, Moore made an instant impact for a CWS club hitting .311 with 15 home runs and 20 doubles. Now a draft-eligible sophomore, this season has been a struggle at the plate (.253/.408/.524), but he has homered 13 times and still holds top round draft value as his defense, once considered a liability, continues to make strides.

3- Walker Janek- Although a medical condition similar to Garrett Mitchell (UCLA) who was selected No. 20 overall in 2020, may hold back his draft value, Janek is a premium defender with plus POP times, good bat-to-ball skills and power in his bat that has produced 17 home runs this spring.

4- Jacob Cozart (NC State)- Despite showing a grade less arm strength this spring than last summer, Cozart is a sure-handed receiver and has still flashed sub 2.0 POP times this spring. The left handed hitter has a smooth stroke with better than average raw power which has produced career highs in both home runs (15) and batting average (.305) this season.

5- Kevin Bazzell (Texas Tech)- A prep catcher who played third base as a sophomore for the Red Raiders, Bazzell shifted back to behind the plate this spring and the results have been positive. His power production has dipped a bit this season with six home runs compared to ten last spring, but the 6-foot-2, 205-pound right handed hitter controls the zone with 22 walks vs 19 strikeouts.

6- Ethan Anderson (Virginia)- A switch-hitter, Anderson splits time behind the plate and also plays an above average first base. He lacks the desired power for either position, but makes up for it with an excellent feel to hit and controls the zone extremely well (30 walks vs 22 strikeouts).

7- Ryan Stafford
(Cal Poly)- A member of last summer's USA CNT, Stafford has taken his offense to new levels in 2024. Previously regarded more as a defensive specialist, the athletic right handed hitter has put together career highs in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage this spring with a slash of .378/.449/.584.

8- Cole Messina (South Carolina)- A vocal leader and a good pitch-framer, Messina also has a loose swing and pop in his bat. He does have a propensity to strike out a bit too much (24% K rate), but makes up for it with above average power -- 15 home runs, 18 doubles this season.

9- Derek Bender
(Coastal Carolina)- A bat-first prospect, Bender excelled last summer in the Cape. He hasn't shown the same power this spring as he has in previous seasons, but he controls the zone and is a tough out at the plate. Behind the plate for the Chants he splits time where he's shown the ability to become an adequate receiver who could continue in a part-time role at the professional level.

10- Grant Knipp (Campbell)- Another bat-first prospect, the power-hitting Knipp (18 home runs) also has plus-plus arm strength from both behind the plate and on the pitcher's mound where he's touched 98.

Additional top catching prospects
: Jackson Appel (Texas A&M), Ari Armas (San Diego), Derek Berg (Army), Ryan Campos (Arizona State), Owen Carapellotti (Georgetown), Hunter Dobbins (Ball State), Jacob Friend (Davidson), Fernando Gonzalez (Georgia), John Newman, Jr. (Long Beach State), Hudson White (Arkansas).