top 5 catchers

Top 5 Catchers in the 2024 MLB Draft

Perhaps the most important position on a baseball field is the catcher position. While the center fielder and shortstop are often regarded as the captains of the outfield and infield, the catcher is the quarterback of the defense. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a solid catcher behind the plate in order to find success for your ball club. Despite the importance of the position, catchers see some of the highest turnover among position players. That’s why it’s so difficult to find a franchise catcher in today’s game. There are only a few in 2024 – J.T. Realmuto, Adley Rutschman, and William Contreras are the only three players I would give that title to right now. You never know if a catcher is going to be able to hit, and there are multiple aspects to the defensive game, making it hard to find a well-rounded catcher. That’s why it’s so important to develop the right players for the job, and it starts with drafting the right guys. These five players are the consensus top five catchers in this year’s draft, and while I have them ranked by personal preference, they’re all interchangeable depending on what you value in a catcher.

Top 5 Catchers in the 2024 MLB Draft


1. Caleb Lomavita, California

Caleb Lomavita is currently ranked as MLB Pipeline’s #33 overall draft prospect and is the third-highest-ranked catcher. However, he is my favorite catcher in the draft as he is the most dynamic catcher in the group. Lomavita is from Hawaii where he didn’t get much attention at the high school level. He ended up at the University of California where he has only gotten better year to year. He’s now 21 years old and just finished his junior year. He put up an impressive 2024 campaign in which he posted a .981 OPS and hit 15 home runs. That followed his sophomore season where he hit 16 home runs and put up a .979 OPS, so consistency is not an issue. Along with a plus hit and power tool, Lomavita managed 12 stolen bases with his 50-grade run tool. He could potentially be a 20 HR/20 SB guy at the next level which is rare for catchers. Because of his athleticism, his skills behind the plate are very projectable. He moves very well, giving him a better chance at blocking pitches and throwing out baserunners. He threw out 33% of would-be base stealers in 2024 and also appears to be improving in the framing department as well. Lomavita is definitely one of the more complete catchers in this year’s class, and even if he doesn’t stick at catcher at the next level, he has the tools and baseball instinct to be able to move around the diamond. In my mock draft, I have him going 18th overall to the Tampa Bay Rays, but we could see him drafted anywhere from the back half of the first round, to the front half of the second round.

COTUIT 07/05/23 Cotuit catcher Caleb Lomavita reacts after tagging Nate Humphreys of Falmouth as he dives into home.

2. Walker Janek, Sam Houston State

If you’re looking for a catcher who is a lockdown defender, Walker Janek is your guy. The 21-year-old out of Sam Houston State is the #23 overall draft prospect and the highest-ranked catcher. Janek won Conference-USA’s Defensive Player of the Year award in 2024 after casually throwing out 51.6% (16/31) of base stealers. While his athleticism isn’t on par with Lomavita’s, Janek still moves around well for a catcher which translates to his blocking skills too. Scouts like his framing skills as well, which makes Janek the best defensive catcher in the draft. Offensively, his bat really took off in 2024. Janek carries a solid 6’0″ 190-pound frame that has helped him tap into more power. He hit 17 home runs and slugged .709, good for a 1.185 OPS after two seasons in which he eclipsed the .850 mark. He has a lot of bat speed in his swing and creates a lot of loft as well, which has turned into a lot of pull-side power. Although he’s hitting most of his long balls to the pull side, Janek has shown an ability to hit the ball to all fields. On top of all of this, he also improved his plate discipline, as he drew 40 walks to 45 strikeouts. Janek is probably the safest catcher in this draft if you’re looking for a guy who is going to stick at the position in the long term. I have him going 28th overall to the Houston Astros, but it’s very likely that his name is the first off the board among catchers.

May 26, 2023; Mesa, AZ, USA; Sam Houston Bearkats’ Walker Janek (3) celebrates his 3-run home run against the GCU Lobos during their WAC Tournament game at Hohokam Stadium.

3. Malcolm Moore, Stanford

Our third catcher is Malcolm Moore, the 20-year-old sophomore out of Stanford. From the left side of the plate, Moore has an advanced approach with the bat. In each of his seasons at Stanford, he posted OBPs north of .380, and SLGs over .550, good for an OPS over .950 in each year. He has a very patient approach at the dish which resulted in 44 walks to just 35 strikeouts in 2024. He rarely chases and really maximizes the pitches he sees in the zone, and has a solid two-strike approach as well. Most of his power is to his pull-side and I don’t think he’ll have a problem getting to his power at the next level due to his solid approach. Defensively, Moore lags behind Lomavita and Janek. His arm and glove both earn a 45 grade while his blocking and framing skills are average at the college level. However, he did see a lot of improvement defensively in 2024. There’s still work to be done in that department, but the bat might be good enough that teams will be willing to trade it off for average defense, or they can move him into a 1B/DH role if they don’t believe in the glove long-term. I don’t have him mocked in the first round, but I think going as the second catcher off the board is his ceiling, while the middle of the second round is likely his floor.

Jun 19, 2023; Omaha, NE, USA; Stanford Cardinal catcher Malcolm Moore (10) tags out Tennessee Volunteers shortstop Maui Ahuna (2) on a play at the plate in the first inning at Charles Schwab Field Omaha. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

4. Jacob Cozart, North Carolina State

Jacob Cozart is MLB’s #42 overall draft prospect and 4th highest-ranked catcher, and I have him at the same spot. The 21-year-old junior just got the chance to play on the big stage as his NC State Wolfpack played at the College World Series. His team would not have gotten there if not for his production from both in the box and behind the plate. The left-handed backstop put up a line of .291/.428/.571, with 16 home runs in 2024. Cozart is a solid all-around hitter, making a lot of contact, driving the ball to all fields, and getting the ball in the air consistently. He has a solid approach at the plate as well, highlighted by his 48 walks to 46 strikeouts. He has a 45-grade hit tool, but I would be willing to say it’s a 50-grade tool. Defensively, he gets the job done. His arm is graded as average, but teams like his pop times, and his framing as well. Standing at 6’3″, it is difficult to project what kind of success he will have at the next level defensively just because catchers at that height are more likely to move off of the position later in their career. He’s a well-rounded catcher, but his tools don’t quite play up to Lomavita’s or Janek’s, which keeps him ranked fourth for me. I think it’s safe to say Cozart is a solid choice in the 2nd round.

Jun 15, 2024; Omaha, NE, USA; NC State Wolfpack catcher Jacob Cozart (14) hits a single against the Kentucky Wildcats during the first inning at Charles Schwab Filed Omaha. Mandatory Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

5. Kevin Bazzell, Texas Tech

Kevin Bazzell out of Texas Tech is my final catcher listed and is MLB’s #53 overall draft prospect. Another college junior, Bazzell just finished his age-21 season for the Red Raiders. Out of the five catchers listed here, Bazzell has the best hit tool. It’s graded as a 60 large in part due to his high contact rates and ability to spray the ball to all fields. He keeps his strikeout numbers down because his contact rates reach 90% on a normal basis, but doesn’t draw too many walks either. However, he hits the ball hard enough on a consistent basis that it doesn’t seem as if he’s sacrificing power for contact. As far as power goes, he lacks a lot of lift, but there is believed to be enough power in the bat and maturity at the plate to be able to start sending balls over the fence. He hit only six home runs in 2024, and 16 in his college career. Defensively, Bazzell should at least be an average catcher at the next level. You’ll notice that’s a trend with higher-ranked catchers – the defensive tool must be at least average. He earns a 55 grade arm while the framing skills are still a work in progress. Scouts do like how he moves around behind the plate and his ability to get to blocked balls. He has enough athleticism as well to move off the catcher position fairly easily if he needed to. He was a full-time third baseman before moving to full-time catcher in 2024, so it’s obvious he has the ability to move around. I see Bazzell as a safe late second-rounder or early third-rounder.

Texas Tech’s catcher Kevin Bazzell (4) hits a home run against Stanford in game one of their non-conference baseball series, Monday, April 1, 2024, at Rip Griffin Park.

Main Image: Annie Rice/Avalanche-Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

0 0 votes
Do you agree with this article? Let's see your vote!
0 0 votes
Do you agree with this article? Let's see your vote!
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x