Mariners Top 20 Prospects – #17 – Steven Baron
This is a series in which I’ll be going over my personal top 20 Seattle Mariners 2010 Prospects. As you can see, I’ll be counting them down, starting at 20, and I’ll try to do them, well, whenever I get the chance. Keep in mind that almost all of these are completely debatable, and reflect only my personal opinions.
Steven Baron is a 19 year old catcher out Miami, Florida, and was the third of three Mariners first round draft picks in the 2009 amateur draft. He was looked at by most fans as the safe, cheap pick at the time, but that idea kind of went out the window when he eventually signed for almost $1 million. However, the Mariners farm system is pretty weak when it comes to catchers, and inking Steven Baron certainly improved that situation.
The word on Baron, even before the draft, was that he was absolutely a defensive specialist, and that his offense needed a whole lot of work. Based on his first 30 games of pro ball, I’d say those reports were probably pretty accurate. Now, 30 games is 30 games, and 30 games generally isn’t enough to form an opinion with, but there’s really no reason to think that Steven Baron is all that much better, for now anyway, than the .179/.241/.292 he posted in Pulaski. From what I’ve read, he has a lot of holes in his swing, which would certainly explain why his contact rates look so awful . Not only that, but he also has a really bad approach at the plate, leading to a lot of strikeouts, and very few walks. It should be noted that he does have good bat speed and the potential for some decent power, although those are really the only two things he has going for him offensively, as of now.
Long story short, he just isn’t a good hitter, and even if he does improve, offense is probably always going to be his weakness. However, it’s important to remember that he’s just 19, and I certainly wouldn’t be putting him on this list if I didn’t think that he had a legitimate chance of at least getting his offense to a level at which his defensive value won’t be completely wasted.
Defense is what pays the bills for Steven Baron, and it probably will be for his entire career. He has a strong, accurate arm with a quick release, he moves well behind the plate, and he blocks balls extremely well. He’s really the full package defensively. I don’t think there’s much else to say – he’s just a really, really good defensive catcher, and that’s where the majority of his value as a prospect comes from. In fact, and I know this is going to sound crazy to Mariners fans, but I’m almost positive that he can catch fastballs. I can’t even imagine what that much be like to watch.
Tough to say at this point. His defense is so good that he really doesn’t have to be that good offensively to be a fairly valuable player in the big leagues. However, his offense is so bad right now that he’ll have to significantly improve his contact rates just to approach the far away realm of “average”. He’s still extremely young though, and while he’s got a long way to go, he does have a legitimate chance of eventually being a starting catcher in a big league uniform.