Boston Red Sox Prospects: Kole Cottam’s standout work behind the plate

FORT MYERS, FLORIDA - MARCH 13: Kole Cottam of the Boston Red Sox takes batting practice during a spring training team workout at JetBlue Park at Fenway South on March 13, 2022 in Fort Myers, Florida. (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
FORT MYERS, FLORIDA - MARCH 13: Kole Cottam of the Boston Red Sox takes batting practice during a spring training team workout at JetBlue Park at Fenway South on March 13, 2022 in Fort Myers, Florida. (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /
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Boston Red Sox prospect Kole Cottam needs more love for his defense

When the Boston Red Sox selected Kole Cottam out of Kentucky in the fourth-round of the 2018 MLB Draft, he was seen as an offensive-minded catcher. Someone that could hit the ball, but everything else came second.

He showed that offensive potential immediately. In 2019, the right-handed hitter slashed .255/.363/.424 with 25 doubles, one triple, and eight home runs. He drove in 44 runs and scored 47 more. The defense still needed work though.

2020 was a lost season, as the pandemic forced MiLB to cancel their season. So now it was up to the players to get some work in themselves. And when 2021 came around it was evident that Cottam did exactly that. There was a clear focus on defense. As the season went on, it seemed like no player made a bigger improvement than the Kentucky Gentleman (shoutout to Chuck Taylor) did defensively.

Everything was better. He was calling games like a veteran, framing pitches well, blocking the plate, and making throws. Not only was this an incredibly impressive step forward, but Cottam was still hitting the ball as well (.278/.371/.500).

Now it’s 2022, and the catcher has spent all year in Double-A. He’s had to endure a lot of bad luck at the plate (hitting balls extremely hard, right at people). Despite that, the numbers are still really strong as he’s slashing .268/.347/.349. The slugging is down as he’s not getting a lot of extra-base hits (nine doubles and one homer). But that doesn’t mean he’s not hitting the ball hard.

That’s not what this article is about though. Since last year I’ve talked about the improvements behind the plate. It was evident last year, and he’s seemed to take another step forward this year.

Then I went to the Sea Dogs games in-person last week.

First of all, shoutout to Cottam for his interactions with fans. I noticed this with the entire team honestly, happily signing autographs and interacting with fans. When two little kids came up to him with nothing to sign, Cottam didn’t think twice to reach into his bag and get a ball for each kid. And when he didn’t have two he told them he’d go into the locker room to get another. The kids looked absolutely jacked up. Love to see it.

Literally the first batter of the game for the Reading Phillies popped the ball up behind the plate towards the net. Cottam flipped the mask off and made a nice play at the net to get the out.

It didn’t end there. Every time Cottam was behind the plate, we saw great defense. And for catchers, that doesn’t always mean stellar plays and things that every fan is going to drool over. It’s the subtle things like the pitch framing and game calling.

Okay sure, fans do love that stuff. But let’s not pretend like the average fan is going to give you a rundown of a minor league catchers defensive capabilities. That’s the stuff you don’t hear/see as much about.

And for Cottam that’s a shame. Because the improvements there have been insanely drastic. Drastic to the point that I’m going to make a statement right here, right now. Fight me if you must.

The Boston Red Sox have a lot of catchers in their system that bring some excitement. Kole Cottam is the best defensive catcher in the system. There, I said it. It’s out there now. Is he perfect at everything? No. But he’s constantly improving back there. And it’s awesome to watch.

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