Catcher Cade Hunter
The best prospect still available on FanGraphs’ list is Virginia Tech backstop Cade Hunter. VT had many top prospects in this year’s draft. Along with Hunter, outfielder Gavin Cross was taken 9th overall by the Kansas City Royals and infielder Tanner Schobel was taken with the 68th pick by the Minnesota Twins. Day two could see the third player taken from Virginia Tech be selected in this year’s MLB Draft.
Hunter brings a lot of power to the plate. He put up some impressive exit velos with VT during this year. He lifts the ball well and blasted 17 homers in 58 games/258 plate appearances. All told, he batted .330/.440/.637. He was also a sneaky runner, swiping 11 bags in 12 attempts. Although he isn’t a speed demon, he’s quite fast for a catcher.
However, there are some questions about strikeouts with Hunter. He struck out at a 22.9% rate during the season. Granted, he did walk 12.4% of the time as well, but the strikeouts are slightly concerning. On the plus side, FanGraphs loves his fielding. They describe him as “twitchy and athletic” which helps him receive well.
Hunter drew comparisons to LA Dodger backstop Will Smith. That’s a pretty good comparison given that Smith is one of baseball’s best backstops. Hunter does come with some risk, but is a potential mid-to-late Day two kind of guy to watch. He’d give the Pittsburgh Pirates yet another talented backstop in the system if they were to select him.