Last year, my brother from another mother, Michael C. Halpern, predicted a new wave of offensive catchers. Players like Gary Sanchez, Tom Murphy, and Willson Contreras were here to lead the first wave in a new generation. Fast forward one year later, and Gary Sanchez and Contreras are in fact leading a new generation of good hitting catchers, while the other guy has been erased from my memory. Or at least I thought, I’m shocked I can even recall Tom Murphy’s name. But that’s neither here nor there. We have some exciting catchers to cover. That’s right, I used the words exciting and catchers in the same sentence! This sounds like Razzball sacrilege! But it’s true, because, for the first time since the Clinton administration, there’s as many as 10 crouching tigers I would own in dynasty. Here’s to this wave of talented backstops being better than the previous. And may that apply in the most double entendre of ways possible to all aspects of your life, loyal reader. I appreciate you for committing this time to something as trivial as catching prospects. Pray hands… So the least I can do is wish you good luck in your love life. Today’s post concludes my positional top 10s, we’ve already dug through Pitchers, outfielders, shortstops, third baseman, second baseman, and first baseman. Onto catchers!
1. Francisco Mejia, C Indians | Level: AA | 2017 Stats: .297/.346/.490 14 HR, 52 RBI, 7 SB
The undisputed top catching prospect in the game, Mejia is a potential elite fantasy asset. The switch hitting contact machine, has continued to hit for power as he’s progressed through the minors. It’s not huge raw power, but he’s a good enough hitter to make opposing pitchers pay for hanging a breaking ball, or leaving a fastball over the plate. He’s the rare catching prospect that offers high floor and ceiling, which is why there’s few players I like more. Made his MLB debut this year, but I’d be shocked if he doesn’t start the season in AAA.
2. Keibert Ruiz, C Dodgers | Level: A+ | 2017 Stats: .316/.361/.452 8 HR, 51 RBI, 0 SB
A switch hitting contact machine with developing power and plate approach beyond his years. Sound familiar? No, it’s not me catching a temporary stutter, Keibert isn’t all that different from Francisco Mejia a couple of seasons ago. The Dodgers are the type of organization to take it slow, so Ruiz is still a good three years from any regular playing time. But if his recent track record and production is any indicator, then we could be looking at a peak of a .300 average and mid teen to low 20s homer totals.
3. Zack Collins, C White Sox | Level: AA | 2017 Stats: .224/.370/.445 19 HR, 53 RBI, 0 SB
Collins is easy to break down, power, on base, strikeouts. He’s the penultimate three outcome hitter, walking at an elite rate, but struggling to hit above .240. There’s 25-30 homer seasons in his bat, and he should get a huge boost in leagues that use OBP in place of average. Collins has done well to hone his catching skills and looks likely to stick behind the plate for now.
4. Andy Yerzy, C Diamondbacks | Level: RK | 2017 Stats: .298/.365/.524 13 HR, 45 RBI, 0 SB
The 2016 second round pick broke out in a big way in 2017 mashing in advanced rookie ball. He eased questions about his propensity to swing and miss coming out of the Canadian prep ranks, by flashing a great deal more discipline, striking out 18.1% of the time. Instead of sapping power from Yerzy’s bat, the change in approach actually boosted his game power, as he slugged .524 while walking 9.6% of the time. With OPS upside like that, there’s a good chance Yerzy sneaks into my Top 100.
5. Danny Jansen, C Blue Jays | Level: AAA | 2017 Stats: .323/.400/.484 10 HR, 48 RBI, 1 SB
Following three and a half uninspiring seasons in the minors, Jansen noticed something off with his eye sight. When he was diagnosed with astigmatism late last season, he started wearing glasses in games, and immediately noticed a huge difference in how he saw the ball. The results followed in 2017, as he climbed three levels of the minors, and finds himself on the cusp of a big league debut. Jansen isn’t a stud in anyone one particular area, but he’s a good all around hitter with contact, plate approach, and above average power. Could be a .280/14/65 player within the next few seasons, with some room for a little more at peak.
6. Alex Jackson, C Braves | Level: AA | 2017 Stats: .267/.328/.480 19 HR, 65 RBI, 0 SB
Reborn in the Braves organization as a power hitting catcher. Jackson found his old swagger that pushed him to the top of the 2014 draft class. He set career highs in slugging, homers, and just about every other statistical category, and managed to look solid if unspectacular in a second half callup to AA. Jackson brings elite power to the table and little else. He’s never going to be a high average play, and he struggles against righthanders. So there’s obvious red flags here. Still, the 30+ homer ceiling is enough to outweigh the power hitting platoon vs lefties floor.
7. Daulton Varsho, C Diamondbacks | Level: A | 2017 Stats: .311/.368/.534 7 HR, 39 RBI, 7 SB
The son of former Phillies outfielder Gary Varsho, the 2nd round supplemental pick is named after his father’s former teammate Darren Daulton. Sort of poetic justice I guess, or some other film starring Tupac. As a player he brings 20 homer power, contact, on base ability, and great base-running for a catcher. He has a shot to stick in a multitude of defensive roles if catching doesn’t pan out, and the bat should play everywhere. Varsho could easily move up to the top 5 on this list by mid-season next year.
8. Austin Allen, C Padres | Level: A+ | 2017 Stats: .283/.353/.497 22 HR, 81 RBI, 0 SB
A bat first catcher with some questions about his ability to stick behind the plate, Austin put up one of the stronger statistical seasons in the minors from a catcher. He’s pull happy, and might see his batting average take a hit as he deals with the shift in the majors. He does however hit the ball in the air a fair amount, his batted ball profile features a nice mix of line drives and fly balls. Overall he looks like he has a chance to make it as a bat first catcher, if not he has the power to carve out a role at first.
9. Jake Rogers, C Tigers | Level: A+ | 2017 Stats: .261/.350/.467 18 HR, 70 RBI, 13 SB
The 2016 third round pick came over to the Tigers in the waiver trade that sent Justin Verlander to the the Astros. Rogers brings a mix of power, on base ability, and the type of glove that will guarantee a long term future behind the plate. There’s some swing and miss, and he may never be a superstar, but has shot to be a fantasy viable catcher.
10. Brett Cumberland, C Braves | Level: A+ | 2017 Stats: .266/.409/.445 11 HR, 69 RBI, 1 SB
A creepy porn stache, and elite on base ability, might be two of Cumberland’s strongest attributes, but they’re certainly not the only ones. A switch hitter with an extreme flyball profile, and a knack for hitting with RISP, make Cumberland a some what under discussed catching prospect. Part of it is, he gets lost in a deep system, the other is, well, he’s a catching prospect. Still a few years away and it looks like he has some work to do to stick behind the plate.
The Next Two
11. William Contreras, C Braves | Level: RK | 2017 Stats: .290/.379/.432 4 HR, 25 RBI, 1 SB
The younger brother of the Cubs Willson Contreras, William brings to the table many of the same skills. Athleticism, bat speed, and an advanced approach for a 19 year old, make Contreras a possible mover over the next year. His walk rate of 12.1% wasn’t far off from his K rate of 15.2%, and 21.9% LD rate shows a penchant for making hard contact.
12. Tyler Stephenson, C Reds | Level: A | 2017 Stats: .278/.374/.414 6 HR, 50 HR, 3 SB
Really came on post all star break, carrying a .306 average and .500 slugging in the second half. Perhaps this is the beginning of an offensive breakout for Stephenson, a highly touted former 1st round pick out of the Georgia prep ranks. Has above average raw power he’s still learning to tap into, but his plate approach took a major step forward in 2017. Unless his power manifests itself over the next two to three years, I see Stephenson as a just solid everyday major league catcher.
Ronaldo Hernandez, C Rays | Level: RK | 2017 Stats: .332/.382/.507 5 HR, 40 RBI, 2 SB
Low minors bat with plus contact, plate approach, and developing power. Hit .340 in the Dominican Summer League last year, and that same elite bat to ball skill translated in his stateside debut. Long ways away, but a bat to dream on.
Chase Vallot, C Royals | Level: A+ | 2017 Stats: .231/.380/.438 12 HR, 37 RBI, 0 SB
Big raw power, tape measure shots, walks, and lots of swing and miss is the way of the Vallot. Long one of my colleague Halp’s favorites, Vallot is guaranteed to be in his top 10 at the position. In a lot of ways he’s still a sleeper as many are scared off by that awful batting average. More than likely is moved off of the position, so he needs to really mash.
Victor Caratini, C Cubs | Level: AAA | 2017 Stats: .342/.393/.558 10 HR, 61 RBI, 1 SB
When you number scout Fangraphs minor league stats, Caratini stands out. Over the last few seasons there have been few statistically stronger in the minors. But look a little deeper and you see lots of groundball contact, and BABIP luck. That said Caratini, has showed some ability to hit, but he’s more Francisco Cervelli than Buster Posey. Though I might be underselling the switch hitters ability, as his past two seasons have been impressive offensively.
Chance Sisco, C Orioles | Level: AAA | 2017 Stats: .267/.340/.395 7 HR, 47 RBI, 2 SB
Got his call to the bigs this year, but I’m just not excited in the least. Very little power, not a ton of batting average, no speed, and questions about his defense. Sisco is a big name, but one I’d shy away from.
Other Names: Seby Zavala, Will Smith, Daniel Flores, MJ Melendez, Wilifred Astudillo, Juan Mendez, Darrell Miller, Wilmer Perez, Andrew Knizner, Ivan Herrera, Yorman Rodriguez
Follow me on Twitter @ProspectJesus and Tune in Tuesday’s @ 9PM (EST) to my Live Baseball Show on Fantrax YouTube. (and join the Crab Army in the chat)
Making my final cuts in dynasty league. I can only keep one of Tim Beckham Yasmani Tomas and Jose Martinez. Thoughts?
In a 20 team dynasty 6×6, BB’S + Holds. Doubled down on for the future approach after losing Jose Fernandez as my ace and traded Miggy & Rodon for Bellinger & Brinson + #1 overall = Senzel in the offseason last year. Next years will likely be the last I get #1 overall for awhile as much of my youth is starting to arrive. SO torn on who to take #1, leaning Robert all year, shifted to Tatis Jr. the past few months (espn league, hopefully switching to fantrax) so Tatis is unowned and can only be added during the next draft. Now Otani is throwing a serious wrinkle in my plans. This league spits on Pitching and have had nothing but bad luck with P thus far. Who do I take? If I knew Otani could play both ways for me, I’d feel much better about scooping him. If not, I’m leaning Tatis. Context/Roster:
C – W. CONTRERAS
1B – BELLINGER
2B – MONCADA
SS – J. BAEZ
3B – DEVERS
OF – SCHWARBER
OF – GALLO
OF – ROBLES
U – ALBIES
U – J.P. CRAWFORD
BE – J. MATEO
BE – VLAD JR.
BE – Y. DIAZ
BE – T. CLARK
BE – I. DIAZ
BE – BRINSON
BE – SENZEL
BE – ELOY JIMENEZ
BE – LAZARITO
BE – Z. COLLINS
BE – L. FOX
BE – MAITAN
BE – B. BRADLEY
P – J. URIAS
P – A. REYES
P – SIXTO
P – HADER
P – MOREJON
P – BUEHLER
P – A. ESPINOZA
P – ALLARD
BE – Y. ALVAREZ
BE – T. MCKENZIE
Thanks for your time and opinion! Read all your posts and love both the pods, Saturdays a bit more because I like to dig deap in to the minors!
@Prospects Galore: It’s Otani then Tatis, and then Robert. Tatis and Robert are close, Otani is the easy pick in my mind.
@Ralph Lifshitz: That’s kinda what I thought you’d say after hearing your take on Otani in the pod and post. Was hoping you’d say it’s close, fearing my tendency to find TJ’ed elbows and torn shoulders. Thanks again!
@Prospects Galore: If you have that curse don’t take him and ruin Otani for the rest of us…:)
@Ralph Lifshitz: I might very well decide to alleviate that possibility. Will have to decide how I feel next March and how his eligibility questions play out. Agree with you it would be a game changer if he could be played both ways and would make him a whole lot of fun to own.
How far down the ranks do you see Espinoza falling with the possibility of not seeing him pitch again till ’19? Should I drop him for Franklin Perez, or maybe Daz Cameron?
@Prospects Galore: I’d dump him for perez
@Ralph Lifshitz: Scooped Perez. Greatly appreciate the advice! Keep up the great work Ralph!
Ralph, love the early lists. I have a bunch of OF youngsters thanks to you., Kepler, Margot, Benintendi, Robles,Tapia, Jimenez,Alford, Acuna and O’Neill. I also have Hoskins , Calhoun and McMahon. A owner is looking for outfield help. I am a fan of Odor. Would you deal Margot for him? I am also of thinking of standing pat , and possibly have McMahon and Calhoun at second depending on postion eligibility next and draft Hiura.
What are your thoughts?
@sh: I think I’d stay pat and draft Hiura. It’s not a bad offer if you want Odor. I can’t get his stink off me though.
I was surprised to see three Braves prospects ranked and none were Abraham Gutierrez, I’ve been told he’s really good.
@Mark: You’ve been told right, but he’s years away
I’m in a 16 team dynasty h2h league that rosters around 260 prospects. i’ve made the finals 3 straight years and have mainly been using my farm system to augment my majors roster via trades. That said i’ve traded away my 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round draft picks in our 2018 dynasty draft. I’m looking to essentially take some fliers on yahoo players in the database now and send them down to my minors roster in lieu of the picks i won’t have (I picked up starling heredia for this reason). I have brett phillips and am considering making a move to pick up jhailyn ortiz and drop phillips. I know ortiz is way far away and already big, but i think he has more upside and the potential for helium than phillips. would you make the move? my OFs are currently marte, stanton, blackmon, cruz, and brantley. other guys on my roster with OF elig (depending on yahoo’s games played requirements for pre-season elig) are bryant, kipnis, and carlos santana.
@Brian: Yeah I’d drop Phillips for Ortiz
It’s crunch week! Two questions.
1. Do I pick up AJ Cole and start him or do I take the chance Scherzer actually starts on Saturday?
2. I’m a 14 team h2h 10 cats. Should I start Adam Frazier-Austin Hays or Phillip Ervin. No really considering Ervin though, Since Hamilton is playing.
@Chris: 1. Role with Max 2. I’d go with Hays
Hey Ralph, Ima put you on the spot here. I’m in a dogfight for my league, and I can’t decide on my last waiver claim. I’m battling one guy for the top spot in the Wins category so I’m considering picking up Snell and his two starts (@NYY, BAL) – or even Bauer (CHW) – either would replace Nova in my lineup. But I also see Beltre on waivers, and he could give me a nice boost given that there are some offensive categories where I’m vulnerable. He would likely replace one of Thames, Solarte or Semien as one of my 2 DHs. Who to pickup?
@Milarky: I should have mentioned – K’s mean nothing – I locked that category up some time ago. I’m up by 0.23 in ERA, and .03 in WHIP, so it looks like the only SP category in question in Wins.
@Milarky: I would go Bauer and dump Solarte for Beltre.
NL only, better bet for W and K this week: Maeda out of the pen for a coasting LAD or Tyler Anderson with a start in Coors v MIA?
I’m tied in both cats, in one case with the person directly above me in the standings; breaking those ties would put me in a tie for 1st, which is how I find myself asking this ridiculous question. Note also that while I have no chance of gaining points in the ratios this week, I could lose a point in WHIP (I’m 0.0008 ahead of the next guy).
@steve stevenson: I think your best bet is the guy with a start if you’re looking for a W and Ks. Plus the rocks got something on the line.
I’d add a bat, probably Bour due to the schedule and which catagories you think you need. By the sounds of it your happy you have the better pitching so why waste a add on that yet.
Though you probably want Ralph or Grey and not me to comment
@Ukmets: Good answer, you’re hired!
Off topic: heading into 10×10 H2H finals, I have 2 moves left and my opponent has 1. Pickups have to be made day before. My opponent’s SP are pretty bad and his RP are even worse. We’re both scheduled for the same # of starts this week. My lineup has a couple holes, namely at CF (JBJ has been terrible, but has 6G in Fenway this week) and Util2 (Boeuf Welington, who has only 5G this week). Because of the limited moves (20/yr), plenty of talent is on the wire. I could pick up the red hot Moncada or Bour (who’s going to Coors this week) for Util, or Fowler w/ 7G is probably the best CF option available.
So, do I add a bat, add 2 bats, or hold the moves in case I need to stream or replace an injured/resting guy?
@steve stevenson: I’d add Bour, JBJ to Fowler is a wash no way he starts all those games.
The Contreras family is like “Will. We. Are.”
@Grey: Wait till you see Wilma Contreras, totally different catcher.
That’s the future liberals want!
@Grey: Agents of Soros!
I currently hold Murphy in a dynasty, where would he slot in here. I’m not thrilled about drafting another catcher.
@Ukmets: if have him about 5-6. I still think I prefer him to Alex Jackson. Yerzy and Ruiz are huge risers.
@Ralph Lifshitz: so number 3 on ESPN who hates adding prospects
@Ukmets: Hahaha yes!
You know i love me some Vallot
@Halp: I know, that you know, that I know you love some Vallot. I kept thinking he’s going to be 5th on Halp’s list.
Far more exciting group than I anticipated it being.
Is Pentecost the least bit interesting?
@Alcibiades Escobar: Depends what he does in Arizona. He was left off purposely. He’s been so unhealthy that the chances of him sticking behind the plate are slim. I think he ends up at first full time.
Any consideration to Will Smith. He had some injuries but I think deserves a mention.
@Miketron: Yeah, I totally forgot about him. He’s got some pop and on base but I don’t love him. Just added him to other names.
I know he got called up already, but where does Jorge Alfaro fit into this list (if anywhere)?
Asking for half fantasy/half real baseball purposes… trying to figure out how excited about him I should be as a Phils fan.
@Stumanji!: I’d have him 8th, but I’ve been lower on him for awhile. Doesn’t have any approach, and hits the ball on the ground a ton for a power hitter. There’s huge raw power there though.