The Rays have never been great at developing catchers. To be sure, the Rays have had some good catchers, and in particular the Mike Zunino/Francisco Mejia duo were great in 2021. But neither these two, nor other successful catchers like Travis d’Arnaud or Wilson Ramos, came up through the Rays farm system.
But that may change in the next year or two, with Rene Pinto and Ford Proctor.
In this article we will take a deeper look at Ford Proctor.
Ford Proctor had a quality 2021 season slashing .244/ .381/.419 with 12 homers, 12 doubles, and 47 RBIs in 97 games played. Proctor posted a career-high 16.5 BB% (first among qualified players in double-A South), but on the other hand, he also put together a career-high 26.2 K%, while posting a 127 wRC+ in double-A with Montgomery Biscuits. The 92nd pick of the 2018 draft started the season with some troubles at the plate, posting a stat line of .154/.296/.167 in his first month. However, in the last three months of the season, he finished off stronger than ever, with an outstanding .290/.408/.514 and .922 OPS. In September he ranked 9th in Double-A South in SLG and 10th in OPS. Because of his strong last couple of months, the Rays were forced to protect Proctor from the rule 5 draft.
Ford Proctor launches a three-run HR to bring us within one! 6-5 in the 5th! pic.twitter.com/a6vGTzafRa— Montgomery Biscuits (@BiscuitBaseball) September 23, 2021
On the defensive side, you could give Proctor an A+ in versatility. Ford played a total of 772 innings in the minors, of which 63.7% of them were behind the dish, 27.1% at shortstop, 5.6% at the hot corner, and 3.6% of the time at 2B. The upside is that he can play above-average defense in any of these positions. He had 11 errors all season long with a .989 defensive effectiveness as a catcher and .967 as a SS (it’s hard to get more sophisticated defensive stats for the minors). He also had a 30.9 caught stealing%, which is slightly above-average.
Time to watch Ford Proctor hit two home runs in our opener vs. Pensacola last night for a total of 800+ feet. pic.twitter.com/DX1p7SRtRs— Montgomery Biscuits (@BiscuitBaseball) September 1, 2021
One of the main parts of Rays’ DNA is that they always have the platoon advantage. Proctor is a perfect example - he hits righties extremely well, this year he gathered amazing numbers .267/.390/.486. Proctor could perfectly complement a catcher that is normally platooned, like Zunino or Pinto. The Rays are not expecting that could turn into an everyday catcher, but he could be a valuable piece that Cash can move around the infield.
Proctor could be seen as the perfect Rays player. Under the radar prospect with not much hype to brag about, can play 3+ positions without a problem, is an above-average defender, can be platooned at any given time, and he will play a big role in a team that will compete at the highest level.