The Tampa Bay Rays aren’t afraid to try something new, and that’s what they’ll be doing with their 36th round pick, Isias Alcantar. He has been a shortstop in college, but the Rays drafted him as a catcher and are hoping that they can turn him into a quality backstop.
Being a shortstop by trade, Alcantar is athletic and has a strong arm. Both will serve him well behind the plate. At 6’0”, 215 pounds he also should be fairly durable as a catcher. Being an experienced infielder, the Rays could be turning Alcantar into a “super-utility catcher”, meaning he would have the ability to play catcher on top of multiple other positions. The Rays have some precedence with this, as they had Chris Gimenez in the past who was capable of playing catcher, third base, first base, and left field, and they also may be trying something similar with Maxx Tissenbaum. Also, they have a deep system when it comes to catcher, so they don’t really need another full-time catcher. Therefore, it would make plenty of sense to try Alcantar as a super-utility catcher, and there’s little to lose with him being a 36th round pick. However, that’s speculation on my part, and we will just have to see what the Rays are planning.
With the bat, Alcantar has shown ability. As a junior, he put up a .345/.421/.495 line and followed that up with a .328/.419/.478 line as a senior. He doesn’t strike out much, which the Rays certainly like, however he could stand to draw more walks. He isn’t likely to hit for a ton of power as a pro, but he has shown good ability to put the ball in play with regularity. His biggest challenge moving forward is going to be calming down his aggressiveness a bit in order to draw more walks, as well as maintaining his contact ability against tougher competition.
The Rays have an interesting pick with Isias Alcantar, and they will see what they can get out of him by converting him to catcher. Converting a college senior who has never seen time behind the plate to a quality professional catcher is a tall task, but if anyone can do it, it’s the Rays.