Brian McCann is a problem to predict. Most catching prospects are, except the catch-and-throw types who aren’t really “prospects” for anything but backup roles. So many catching prospects fail, or disappoint, that talking about their upside seems kind of pointless. McCann could be a superstar, a Hall of Fame talent, a lefthanded Mike Piazza. But he almost certainly won’t be. The odds are that either his bat will stagnate and he’ll fall into the ranks of the ordinary good players, or that his defense will become problematical (or be seen as such) that he’ll be moved to another position.
Anyway, McCann has real power and his walk rate has improved as he’s moved up the system. As a hitter, his chances are probably going to depend upon how well he can make contact. Baseball Prospectus’ comparision system doesn’t work with McCann, coming up with an odd mix of a handful of late-sixties catchers and young hitters of the modern era, none of whom is really close. One player I’ve seen McCann compared to is Carlos Delgado. Sounds pretty good! McCann’s younger than Delgado was when he got his first real playing time in the majors, and three years younger than Delgado was when he finally stuck. And Delgado, of course, was moved off of catcher.
Defensively, he’s allegedly pretty problematic, but I’d like to see for myself. These good-hitting catchers generally get bad-glove reputations if they’re not absolutely stellar defenders. (Piazza, for example, doesn’t throw well but does the rest of the defensive job very well indeed, and never gets any credit for it. Javy Lopez was a pretty good defensive catcher, at least before he hurt his knee.)
McCann’s just a temp. He’ll be sent down when Estrada recovers, likely to AAA rather than AA since the R-Braves don’t have a real catcher with Pena up. My guess is that this is a really early preview and that McCann’s major league career won’t begin in earnest until sometime in 2007.