(Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)
The first in our new series of dynasty content will be to rank everyone’s least favorite fantasy baseball position: the catcher. You’ve either got one or you don’t (at least, that’s my guiding principle) — it’s my goal that if you don’t have a top catcher after your draft — you’ll be able to draft a great prospect and figure out what to do with your major league roster later.
Tier One: Well … Yea.
1. Gary Sanchez (NYY, 25)
2. Willson Contreras (CHC, 25)
Tier Two: Hurry It Up
3. Francisco Mejia (P) (CLE, 21)
4. JT Realmuto (MIA, 27)
5. Buster Posey (SF, 31)
6. Salvador Perez (KC, 27)
7. Wilson Ramos (TB, 30)
Tier Three: Light at the End of the Darkness
8. Keibert Ruiz (P) (LAD, 19)
9. Danny Jansen (P) (TOR, 23)
10. Austin Barnes (LAD, 28)
11. Jorge Alfaro (P) (PHI, 24)
Tier Four: Filling Out your Roster — If that’s your Thing
12. Mike Zunino (SEA, 27)
13. Evan Gattis (HOU, 31)
14. Tom Murphy (COL, 23)
15. Carson Kelly (STL, 23)
16. Yadier Molina (STL, 35)
17. Tyler Flowers (ATL, 32)
18. Jonathan Lucroy (FA, 31)
19. Welington Castillo (CWS, 30)
Tier Five: Ok, Back to Prospects
20. Daulton Varhso (P) (ARI, 21)
21. Chance Sisco (P) (BAL, 23)
22. Jake Rogers (P) (DET, 22)
23. Victor Caratini (P) (CHC, 24)
24. Austin Allen (P) (SD, 24)
25. Andrew Knizner (P) (STL, 23)
- The Indians will be sending Mejia down to AAA to start the year in an attempt to “season” him up before making the call. Make no mistake, Mejia will be up quickly and once established will be in the Tier 1 ownership. He is at top of Tier 2 only because he has yet to have a substantive look above AA, but his ’16 an ’17 seasons give every indication he is offensively advanced at the plate (and defensively with a 30% thrown out rate) — making him a virtual lock at the position.
- Poor JT Realmuto … I would probably have had him in Tier One as well had his value not been decimated by the Marlins’ fire sale. If he’s traded to a contender at any point this year, I would bump him up — until then he’ll hit for above average, hit a few home runs, and swipe a few bases, but won’t do much else.
- I don’t think there is another catcher prospect I’d rather have in my farm system (sans Mejia) than Ruiz. If Mejia may be the next Posey — Ruiz will be the next Mejia. He’s only 19 and is rapidly ascending the Dodgers’ system — hitting .316/.361/.452 in ’17. He doesn’t strike out a lot though he doesn’t walk a lot either — but at 19 still has room to grow. If you don’t have a top catcher – Ruiz should be your first catcher off the board. If I’m being honest I’m being bearish in my ranking — I think he should be going above Ramos.
- As far as other catching prospects to immediately consider, consider Danny Jansen. Though older than Ruiz (but younger than a similarly situated Alfaro), Jansen swiftly climbed the ladder last year hitting .323/.400/.484 between A+/AA/AAA and is on the cusp of breaking into the MLB in a big way. Jansen will be competing against the aging and fading Russel Martin. I expect him to start the year in AAA to get more reps, but if Martin hits the DL or continues to fade as Jansen’s star rises — expect to see Jansen take the reigns and not look back.
- I put Carson Kelly/Yadier Molina back-to-back because Kelly will be in the majors this year and has the talent to start, but is blocked by Molina for the next two years. Molina is 35 and while age hasn’t broken him yet, Kelly is the heir apparent waiting in the wings. Although don’t get me started on the poor Andre Knizner — poor guy is really buried.
- Honestly, Lucroy could still go up or down — it just depends where he lands (although I have an inkling I’ll have him higher by the start of the season). While Coors wasn’t enough to bring back his power, I can still see Lucroy’s average returning to norm — a trait I find invaluable in a catcher, even if they have little else going for them (cough Realmuto).
- If you missed out on the top catching prospects, let me introduce you to Daulton Varsho. The 68th overall pick in 2017, Varsho is a rare breed of catcher (a la JT Realmuto) that has the potential to swipe 15-20 bags a year. Going .311/.368/.534 in his first taste of low-A Varsho demonstrated an advanced approach at the plate and is likely to move quickly through the Diamondbacks system.
Way Too Deep Catching Prospects
Ivan Herrera, Eliezer Alfonzo, Wilmer Perez. All three started and ended their years in the DSL — but all three had impressive offensive seasons in their own right. I’ll be keeping tabs on them as they rise up next year. They represent low strikeout – offensively minded catchers that merit consideration in the deepest of dynasty leagues.
The notion of putting prospects ahead of uninspiring players will be consistent position to position — so buckle up for some fun rankings!
I’ll be making notes in each of my rankings for players/situations/choices worth noting — if there is something specific you wish to discuss regarding the ranks — drop a comment.