The MLB draft may be different from other professional drafts in that teams aren’t often looking to address their current needs, as most draft picks need some developmental time and are a few years away from making an impact at the top level. So when you get a chance to snare a power-hitting catcher with strong defense, that’s a no-brainer, regardless of who you have manning the position in the majors. That’s what one team will be saying about our second MLB Draft feature, Kale Emshoff out of Arkansas-Little Rock. Even in this shortened five-round draft, Emshoff should hear his name called, and he will be an excellent find for whoever secures his services. Emshoff’s draft stock may have slipped due to his injury that forced him to redshirt his junior year. He was off to a very impressive start to his redshirt junior season, but the COVID-forced cancellation deprived Emshoff of a chance to truly rise up the draft boards.
Emshoff was a starter at Little Rock from his freshman year, starting 30 games behind the dish, and then all 56 games his sophomore season. After his missed junior campaign, Emshoff was on pace for his best numbers yet in 2020, hitting .417 with a .527 on-base percentage and .800 slugging percentage. He led the league in that category as well as home runs, with seven in just seventeen games, a mark that ranked eighth in the country. Over his career, he hit .286 over 112 games. Defensively, Emshoff has excellent receiving skills and superb arm strength, gunning down nine of eighteen potential base stealers this past season. Emshoff projects as an offense-first player; his capabilities at the plate make him draftable, but his clear improvement behind the dish – make him a top-10 catcher in this class. While Emshoff could still choose to return to Little Rock, he would be an excellent value pick in the upcoming draft.
Prediction: Round 5, Pick 135, Kansas City Royals
The Royals have a decent farm system, but they lack a standout catching prospect. It may not be their biggest need, given they do have a franchise catcher in Salvador Perez, but grabbing Emshoff late in the draft would be an excellent use of a pick. The projected slot value of this pick is $415,000, so whether that projected contract is enough to lure Emshoff to the draft remains to be seen, but keep an eye on this intriguing prospect.