CBB Column: Switching to Catcher=Higher Signing Bonuses?

Diego Seastrunk looking to make an impact

The Rice Owls are experimenting during Fall ball with Diego Seastrunk behind the plate, where he is projected to play at the next level. Why are teams putting players entering their junior season behind the plate without any experience at the position?

One of the reasons could be the major success of Buster Posey and Jason Castro, both of whom were converted infielders as well as top 10 overall picks in the 2008 Amateur Draft. Posey was able to get his draft stock to skyrocket from a late first round-early second round pick up to the top five in the 2008 MLB Draft by switching positions (and hitting .463 w/26 bombs didn’t hurt either). He already has been moved up three different levels in the minors and the Giants have put him on the fast track to the Majors. Florida State was planning to move another infielder behind the plate in 2009, but Tony Delmonico took the money offered by the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he is currently playing infield for the Ogden Raptors.

While Buster Posey could have been drafted that high at any position, Jason Castro benefited more from the move behind the dish in 2008. Castro had only six starts in his career behind the dish before moving there before his junior season, playing primarily at 1B. The move paid off and he was able to skyrocket up to the 10th overall selection in the 2008 draft by the Houston Astros. He was originally pick #1303 in the 2005 draft out of high school by the Boston Red Sox.

It seems that scouts see Seastrunk as a potential catcher at the professional level. There are already pundits during the fall workouts that state that Seastrunk has some footwork issues and is having problems with his accuracy throwing down to second base. I have not had the chance to see him this fall but I saw him over the Summer in the Cape Cod League where he played for a few weeks. He was a solid third basemen then but I really didn’t see anything that showed me that he could play catcher. One of our readers believes that Seastrunk will see some time on the mound in 2009 as the closer of the Rice Owls. He does have a plus arm but is he accurate enough to be behind the plate? We will see what happens over the coming months with him.

Catchers that can field AND hit are in very high demand these days in the big leagues. Do you think that schools are making a good move by putting their best player behind the plate? Do you think we will see more of it? Please comment in the section below with your thoughts.

Thanks to Assistant Editor Mark Rafferty for helping out with the article.

  • cdog8

    Jason Castro came to Stanford as a catcher and played 1st base while waiting his turn to catch. He did not switch to catcher in attempt to improve his draft status.

  • http://thecollegebaseballblog.com Brian Foley

    If he stayed at first base, do you think he would have been drafted that high? I don’t think so. We stated in the article he only had six starts at catcher in his career before his junior year.

  • cdog8

    I guess my point is that a number of guys have been switching to catcher for that very reason, but Jason was recruited out of high school as a catcher. There is no doubt that the demand for solid defensive catvhers that can hit is high. There are many guys that play first base and can hit, but catching is definitely a position that punishes the body and not everyone is cut out to do it. I am always interested when I see someone try to make the switch because its not an easy one. If it were, more guys would do it for the very reason you’re talking about.