There was plenty of buzz around Anthony Seigler when the Yankees selected him 23rd overall in the 2018 MLB Draft. An athletic, switch-hitting catcher (who was also a switch-pitcher in high school), he fit in perfectly with what the Yankees were looking for in their system. Drafted out of high school, expectations were high for Seigler.
However, he hasn’t done much to back that up so far. Seigler was once ranked as the team’s second-best position player prospect, but has now fallen outside the top 20. He’s only played 54 games since being drafted, which is also part of the problem. Injuries, a lost season to the pandemic, and nondescript performance in that handful of games have caused Seigler to lose some of his luster heading into his age-22 season.
2019 Stats (Single-A Charleston): 120 PA, .175/.328/.206, 3 2B, 6 RBI, 23.3 K%, 16.7 BB%, 74 wRC+
Prospect Ranking (Yankees System/MLB Overall): 22 (MLB.com), 21 (FanGraphs)
Seigler still has some interesting tools. He’s a switch-hitter with good mechanics and an excellent batter’s eye, is extremely agile behind the plate, and has a strong arm. But his lack of power limits his offensive potential, and he has struck out in more than 20% of his professional at-bats. He’s also dealt with hamstring, concussion, quadriceps and knee injuries in his brief pro career. After not playing last season, he should be fully healthy.
The Yankees are at an interesting crossroads with at catcher’s position. They still have one more year of club control over Gary Sánchez, and Kyle Higashioka is a fine MLB backup. But, there could be a serious change coming after 2022 if the Yankees decide not to pay Sánchez. The team has a host of catching prospects in the system, including Seigler, Josh Breaux, Austin Wells and Antonio Gomez. Wells is the most talented hitter but is the weakest defender, Breaux has a lot in common with Sánchez, and the 19-year-old Gomez is the farthest away from the bigs. Among his competition, Seigler is probably the best defensively and has the most athletic upside, but he also has the most to prove.
He last played at Single-A Charleston, and will probably start with the now Low-A Tampa Tarpons before (hopefully) a promotion to High-A Hudson Valley. He’s at roughly the same level as Breaux, which should make their internal competition intriguing to follow. It’s not quite as star-studded as the infamous Jesus Montero-Austin Romine competition of the early 2010s, but there are only so many innings to be had behind the dish in Tampa.
Seigler can earn those innings by hitting better. He’s got the defensive and athletic edge over Breaux, but needs to hit better than the .175 he put up in the 30 games he played at that level in 2019. Seigler’s best offensive trait is his tremendous batter’s eye. He’s drawn 34 walks in 54 games, even while only hitting .216. That results in a career .350 OBP that’s more than 130 points higher than his average. Of course, that’s undone by his poor .267 career SLG. Having plate discipline like that right out of high school is impressive, but it needs to result in more hits for the Yankees’ investment to pay off.
As a person, Seigler seems to have a good head on his shoulders. This video was made before he was drafted, and he touches on his family, faith, heritage as a Native American, and his upbringing as a ballplayer. It’s a good look at why the Yankees were so interested in him three years ago:
Now in 2021, the Yankees need some return on investment out of Seigler. He’s facing a big year to try and differentiate himself from the various other catching prospects in the system. Seigler’s got the tools, but it remains to be seen if he’ll capitalize on them this season.