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Diamondbacks Top Prospect #19: Catcher Andy Yerzy

Another solid season of improvement has Yerzy ready for full season now.

Name: Andy Yerzy

DOB: 7/11/1998 (Age 20)

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 215

Acquired: 2nd Round, 2016 Draft

Position: Catcher

Most Notable Tool: Raw Power

Season Stats: 63 games, 276 PA, .297/.382/.452, 11 2B, 1 3B, 8 HR, 34 RBI, 30 R, 28/67 BB/K

2018 Season Summary: Yerzy’s slow trek through the minor league system took another positive turn in 2018, showing an improved batted ball profile as well as maintaining a solid walk rate. The strikeouts went up, but that’s the tradeoff for more fly ball contact. His slash line was buoyed by a .380 BABIP, which is not sustainable moving forward although the last two seasons suggest he may have a high BABIP skill (.341 in Missoula in 2017).

Tools: Hit 35/55, Power 50/65, Speed 40, Defense 40/45

Yerzy does have the best pure hitting tools of the catchers in the system while offering the least amount of defensive capability. The power numbers were down, but a strong walk rate of 10% plus a possible high BABIP skill gives him the possibility to produce above average OBP numbers while he also does damage with the bat. While he doesn’t have the mobility that both Dominic Miroglio and Daulton Varsho possess behind the plate, he’s worked hard on making it to the point where it’s passable.

Upside: Yerzy was drafted for his bat, which has the potential to be an impact hitter in the middle of the order. Despite the drop in power numbers in 2018, I still project plus power as he’s making improvements with his approach. The high walk rates in the low minors plus the ability to generate exit velocity gives him a lot of ways to impact an offense down the road although we’ll likely have to live with the strikeouts as well. I still have him as a 20 HR/30 2B threat, especially if he’s moved off the plate to 1B. I don’t think he’ll stick behind the plate for two reasons: 1) His bat is too valuable and 2) The team already has better defensive prospects ahead of him on the farm. They should still develop him as a catcher up the system before making the position change when he’s close or has already arrived.

Risk: Yerzy still has a long way to go before reaching the majors. He’s made solid progress every year, but still hasn’t started full season ball yet. The team still has two seasons before he’s Rule 5 eligible, which at that point he’s probably getting ready for AA. The biggest worry is adjusting to the more difficult competition as he moves up the ladder. Strikeouts will always be an issue, but that’s the tradeoff for a potential high BABIP, decent OBP, power guy that plays a premium position. Ultimately I think he gets moved from behind the plate more so because I believe that Miroglio and/or Varsho will cement the catcher spot for the long haul.

Likely 2019 Assignment: It’s time to unleash Yerzy to full season ball, starting with the Class A affiliate Kane County Cougars. There he will need to continue to hit the ball like he has the past two seasons. Yerzy should get plenty of reps as the DH as well as behind the plate there, as the main priority is developing his bat and not necessarily his defense. A strong first half could propel him to Visalia at the end of the year and firmly cement him as a possible red chip prospect and possibly Top 10 a year from now.

ETA: 2021 Season