Fantasy owners lost two good catchers this week in Travis d’Arnaud and Jonathan Lucroy. Even in 12-team formats, you probably threw up in your mouth a little when you went to the wire and saw your replacement options. God help you if you play in a two-catcher format. But not to fear, for the rookies are here! I’m looking in your general direction Kevin Plawecki…don’t disappoint me! When I went over the Top 10 prospects for every team this offseason, I typically spat on catchers in my rankings due to their limited upside. But it’s times like these when we need to bite the bullet and take a closer look at some rookie backstops. Here are six rookie catchers currently in the majors that you may need to roster while your studs are hurt. Yes, this list is ranked in the order that I’d personally add them.
Prospect Rank: 6th Primary C?: Yes (Travis d’Arnaud DL)
Did orange and blue balloons fall from the ceiling of your living room when you heard the news? No, just me? Okay. Plawecki is a nice plug-in for fantasy owners who lost d’Arnaud, since he could hit double-digit homers over a full season but with a better batting average than TdA (think .270-.280 with some upside). The biggest question here is what they’ll do with him when d’Arnaud does come back, which could be in about a month or so.
Prospect Rank: NR Primary C?: Yes (Yan Gomes DL)
The B-Ref page for Perez has him exceeding his rookie limits last season, but with only 108 major league at bats to date he may still qualify as a prospect in some leagues. I think he’s a strong add in this group since he’ll play almost every day while Yan Gomes is on the shelf (6-8 weeks) and, outside of Bethancourt, he has the most MLB time already clocked among these rookies. The Tribe hasn’t hit much of anything to start the year, but Perez could chip in the occasional homer while batting in the .260-.270 range.
Prospect Rank: NR Primary C?: Split with Jarrod Saltalamacchia
I guess I look a little silly not ranking Realmuto this offseason since he’s up and hitting (.286), but I’m still hesitant to go crazy for him in anything shallower than 15-team or two-catcher formats. It’s the timeshare with Salty and the Crayola Canyon home park situation that have me non-plussed. Since he hasn’t hit double-digit homers since A-ball, I think it’s best to make a small bid but save your FAAB here.
Prospect Rank: NR Primary C?: Split with Alex Avila
Avila seems to have some trouble staying on the field, and you could insert my great-grandmother Mikayla into the Tigers’ lineup for a chance at some counting stats. That’s a combo that gives McCann some value, although he’s hitting .143, so I use the term value very loosely. He gets the edge over Susac since he actually plays, and he gets the edge over Bethancourt since he’s in a better lineup when he does play, but that’s about all there is to see here.
Susac got a lot of love on prospect lists this offseason, but he’s just not playing enough yet to warrant an add in most formats. Should Posey (10 games played at C) find himself playing first base more, Susac would still have to navigate around Hector Sanchez (8 games played at C). If you’re in a super deep league or two-catcher format, he’s worth a look. But in shallower leagues his time may not really come until 2016.
Prospect Rank: 4th Primary C?: Split with A.J. Pierzynski
If catchers are gross, then I guess Braves’ catchers are grosser than gross. Bethancourt is hitting a lusty .154 to start the season and has split time with Pierzynski. Pierzynski may actually be the better add if you’re desperate since he’s hit three homers in five games played. The high ranking in the Braves’ preseason list had more to do with their weak system than any offensive firepower Bethancourt might be offering, although he did show some signs of life with the bat last year at Triple-A.
The one catching prospect with the most fantasy upside is actually still at Triple-A Pawtucket, but that may change early this summer given Boston’s current options behind the dish. Keep an eye on Blake Swihart, who ranked 14th in our first Prospect Power Ranking but should jump up a few spots this week.