Zavala spent little time behind the plate in his first three years at San Diego and missed the 2013 season following Tommy John surgery. He slammed 14 homers and threw out 46 percent of basestealers as a junior in 2015, prompting the White Sox to draft him in the 12th round. He blew through four levels in 2017-18 before hitting 20 homers and making a brief big league debut last year.
Zavala's lone standout tool is his plus raw power, which produces home runs from the left-field foul pole to dead-center. His uphill right-handed swing and aggressive approach are geared for power over contact, leading to a 35 percent strikeout rate in Triple-A and nine whiffs in 12 at-bats with Chicago last year. He has done a better job of using the entire field in recent seasons, but he'll probably never hit for average.
The White Sox love Zavala's makeup, and his leadership and game-calling ability outshine his defensive tools. He has an average arm and fringy receiving skills, and he's working to improve his framing and ability to handle premium velocity. He profiles more as a slugging backup than a regular and saw action at first base in 2019 to add to his versatility.
Scouting grades: Hit: 40 | Power: 50 | Run: 30 | Arm: 50 | Field: 45 | Overall: 40
Zavala missed a year with Tommy John surgery and didn't become a full-time catcher until his 2015 redshirt junior season at San Diego State. He hit 14 homers and threw out 46 percent of basestealers that spring, propelling him into the 12th round and to the White Sox. He led the system with 21 homers in 2017 and beat more highly touted catching prospect Zack Collins to Triple-A last year.
His best tool is his plus raw power, and Zavala did a better job of tapping into it once he increased his launch angle in his right-handed swing in 2017. He did a better job of using the entire field last year, though most of his home runs still come to his pull side. He's definitely a power-over-hit guy who could stand to tighten up his plate discipline.
Zavala's leadership and game-calling ability stand out more than his physical tools behind the plate. He has an average arm and similar receiving skills, though he struggles at times to handle premium velocity. He profiles more as a slugging backup than a regular.
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 50 | Run: 30 | Arm: 45 | Field: 45 | Overall: 45
Zavala didn't show he could handle starting catching duties until his fourth year at San Diego State, spending his freshman season as a part-time DH, missing all of 2013 following Tommy John surgery and returning as a left fielder. After hitting 14 homers and throwing out 46 percent of basestealers as a redshirt junior in 2015, he signed for $100,000 as a 12th-rounder. He led White Sox farmhands with 21 homers between two Class A stops in 2017 and continued to swing a hot bat in the Arizona Fall League.
Quite similar offensively and defensively to Evan Skoug, Chicago's 2017 seventh-rounder, Zavala has a higher floor but a lower ceiling. He tripled his home run output from his first full pro season to his second after changing his load to increase his launch angle. Most of his right-handed power comes to his pull side, and he'll have to do a better job of using the whole field and managing the strike zone to hit for average at higher levels.
Zavala projects more as an offensive-minded backup than a regular. He shows strong leadership skills, but his receiving and blocking are still works in progress. He has average arm strength that plays down a tick because he doesn't have the quickest release.