6'3" 215 lbs DOB: 11/1/1984
Bats: Left | Throws: Right
Acquired: 2007 Draft, 12th Round, 365th Overall
Under normal circumstances, no matter how much they raked, guys who played the season as 25-year-olds in High-A don't make top prospect lists. Especially not when they hadn't hit for an OPS over .800 at any previous level. Especially not when they're 12th rounders from an NAIA school.
But we're making an exception for Stephen Vogt, primarily because he's a catcher. Players at that position tend to develop more slowly, and frankly, catchers don't need plus tools across the board to make the majors. If Vogt played just about any other position (except perhaps if he were a shortstop or centerfielder with truly elite defensive skills), I don't think he'd even be in the conversation for this list, even with the 2010 season he had.
And he had quite a season. He led the Florida League in batting average (.345) and OPS (.910). He isn't a guy that draws a lot of walks, only 31 in 106 games, but he only struck out 46 times. He doesn't have plus power, only hitting for 8 home runs, but he maintained a healthy slugging percentage thanks to 31 doubles. He's by no means a burner, but he's capable of stealing a base if the situation is right. He's stolen 15 bases and been caught only 4 times in his career.
There are two obvious hold-ups with Vogt's prospect status. First, he was 25 in the Florida State League, and even considering that 2009 was essentially a wash for him with only 10 games played, he was theoretically more advanced than the pitching he faced. As I said, catchers take more time to develop, but the other hold-up is that I'm not sure if he's a catcher. He caught only 27 games in 2010, spending the rest of his time at first base, in left field, or as the designated hitter. He threw out 31% of basestealers, but that doesn't paint nearly the whole picture of a catcher's defense.
The Rays current catcher, John Jaso, isn't so dissimilar to Vogt. Jaso battled questions about his defensive ability throughout the minors, and still battles them in St. Pete, and was never really truly given credit as a top prospect (we had him at... you guessed it, #14 on this list last season, a clear miss given his success in the majors). Jaso had a much longer track record of hitting, posting OPSes over .800 for a 5-year stretch (and he was generally age-appropriate for his level), while Vogt raked with NAIA Azusa Pacific, then posted pedestrian numbers in Hudson Valley and Columbus before breaking out with Charlotte (and while it's hardly against elite competition, he absolutely crushed it in the Colombian Winter League).
Double-A is going to be a huge test for Vogt in 2011. He has to prove he can hit at the higher levels while also proving he can provide acceptable defense behind the plate day in and day out. His bat seems decent for a catcher, but would play below-average at a corner spot (in addition to his defense also being average at best there). Jaso was able to prove that, starting 98 games behind the dish while hitting enough to earn a promotion to Durham during the 2008 season. Vogt will need a similar year to stay on the radar.