No. 38: Franklin Navarro, C
I'm not a huge fan of putting guys who have yet to play in the US on this list, but as you saw with Anthony Castro, I won't keep someone off who deserves to be on the list, regardless of if they've played in the US or not. Navarro spent 2012 in the Venezuelan Summer League (VSL), and performed very well, hitting .315 with an OPS of .812. He just turned 18 in October, so he spent the entirety of the 2012 season playing as a 17 year old, which further increases my impression of the youngster (listen to me say "youngster" as a 23 year old. Wow). Navarro also went to the Tigers Fall Instructional League, where he was among the youngest in attendance, and reportedly was quite impressive there as well. In 2012, he showed solid gap power, hitting a league-leading 19 doubles, while also managing to put 4 out of the park entirely. He did strike out 51 times, which was good for about a 21% K rate, but he also showed a willingness to walk, while still maintaining good contact skills.
Navarro stands 5'10" and weighs in at about 185, but, being a newly-turned 18 year old, I think he may have some growing left to do, and I'm sure he'll add weight as he matures and lifts weights. He is a switch hitter, which is obviously wonderful to see, but I'm not sure if he's significantly better from one side or another or not. He already has solid gap power, as evidenced by his 24 XBH in 2012, and as he matures I'm sure he'll add some additional pop to his hitting profile, albeit not enough for him to project as a plus power candidate. It's very early, but I think a 15-20 HR profile would be his ultimate ceiling. He has some pitch recognition issues along with some plate discipline issues, but at 18, that's expected, and his natural hitting ability/feel is advanced beyond his years. He's still very raw defensively, and doesn't have the strongest arm as of now, but I think he could develop into an above-average defender behind the dish.
It's still rather early, and having not seen Navarro in person, it makes it hard for me to place an ultimate projection on him. Still, doing that is kind of my job, so I think Navarro has the ceiling of an average to above-average regular at the catcher position, albeit more offensive minded than defensive minded. Regardless, he's still a very exciting prospect to have, and depending on how 2013 goes, he could climb this rankings list significantly by the time we start ranking them next year. He's a candidate to come stateside in 2013 and play with the Rookie League GCL Tigers, but the Tigers may elect to keep him in the VSL for another year. Regardless, keep an eye on him.