Jorge Alfaro received the most votes in the Best Catchers Poll as selected by Phuture Phillies readers. Deivi Grullon finished a distant second. Austin Bossart finished third.
Alfaro began the 2017 season in Lehigh Valley. He started off pretty well and did a slow descent to .300 during the first 6 weeks of the season. He hovered around .290 for a couple weeks, then began another descent to .240. Along the way, we watched Alfaro strike out 113 times and draw 16 walks in 350 plate appearances. When Andrew Knapp went on the DL, Alfaro was called up in August and hit .318/.360/.514/.874 with 5 HR and 14 RBI in 114 plate appearances. He struck out 33 times and walked just 3 times. Alfaro is out of options and will be on the major league roster next season.
Deivi Grullon played at two levels in 2017 and finished at Reading. He began the season in Clearwater and hit hit surprisingly well for the first nine weeks, and was still over .280 as late as June 8th. He began a regression to his norm and was hitting .255/.287/.395/.682 when he was promoted to Reading on July 27th when Chace Numata went on the DL after a collision. His numbers continued to slide in Reading, but he hit a career high 12 home runs across both levels. Behind the plate, Grullon committed 10 passed balls and threw out 40 base runners in 119 attempts (37.3%).
Austin Bossart spent the entire 2017 season with Clearwater except for a one-game cameo with Reading. He labored as Grullon’s backup, then got the short end of playing time when Edgar Cabral was promoted from Lakewood. Bossart posted a .245/.284/.332/.616 with 2 home runs in 55 games and 199 plate appearances. He had 7 passed balls and threw out 33 base runners in 72 attempts (46%). He was arguably the most effective catcher in Clearwater when it came to handling the pitching staff and had a team low catcher’s ERA of 2.83 and record of 25-21 when he caught (going into the final series of the season). He also struck out one in one scoreless inning pitched in relief.
Notes: Among the GCL catchers, Rafael Marchan is a young, up-and-coming catcher. He took a spike to the wrist in their first game but still managed to throw out 16 base runners in 37 attempts (43%). Only 18 years old, he’s a bit light offensively. Lenin Rodriguez has a better bat, but is not as good defensively. Kipp Moore was signed as an non-drafted free agent in 2017, and was a little old for the league. He was good defensively, but probably should have hit better at this level.