Catcher prospects are a difficult bunch to rank. How many of these guys will remain behind the plate, and how many will move to different positions because their offense outstrips their MLB catching ability, like Wil Myers? On the other end of the spectrum, how many catcher prospects are great at handling the plate and the pitching staff, but their bats aren’t MLB ready or won’t be fantasy worthy? A good example is Austin Hedges, who is getting a ton of hype but is a much better MLB prospect than fantasy prospect.
Take exact rankings with a grain of salt, especially because after d’Arnaud and Sanchez, most of these guys should be available unless you’re in a 20-team, super-minors league. In my competitive 14-team league with 13 minors slots, only 5 of these guys are rostered. There are players who are MLB-ready, and there are some long-term projects. Given that most teams don’t focus on catching prospects, this is more a list of names to add to your Watch List for potential breakouts.
Here is my early list of the top fantasy catcher prospects for 2014. I’ve included MLB team as of this writing, as well as the last level at which they played; I’m not counting the September cups of coffee in the majors.
1. Travis d’Arnaud, NYM (AAA) – He’s a gamble if you’re looking for full-time production in 2014, but for long-term value he’s at the top.
2. Gary Sanchez, NYY (AA) – Not going to help in BA, but developing plate discipline means he may not hurt you either, and he still has great power.
3. Jorge Alfaro, TEX (A+) – Power evident, but 24% K% at A ball not a good sign, and he could still move off of C.
4. Max Stassi, HOU (AA) – Dropping BB% only concern; otherwise he improved upon last year’s breakout. He’s ready for AAA and could help Houston out in near future, though with Castro there, odds are one of them could move to 1B or DH.
5. Christian Bethancourt, ATL (AA) – Repeat of AA resulted in strong BA and SLG, but still awful BB rate; he or Gattis could be starting in 2014, so value bump for potential short-term payoff.
6. Blake Swihart, BOS (A+) – Triple slash meets or exceeds A+ league average; HR drop not worrisome yet due to 7 triples and 29 doubles, better SLG than 2012.
7. Austin Hedges, SD (AA) – Power nonexistent in 2013, but could be decent BA help; triple slash at A+ was at league’s average; more a defensive asset, which doesn’t factor into fantasy.
8. Tom Murphy, COL (AA) – Solid A- debut in 2012 turned into strong 2013 performance at A and AA; monitor and speculate on strong bat playing in COL by 2015.
9. Andrew Susac, SF (AA) – Triple slash improved across board in 2013, very good BB/K ratio; could be Posey’s replacement behind plate by 2015.
10. Tony Sanchez, PIT (AAA) – After falling in prospect status, had a good AAA season (.288 BA, 10 HR, 9.5 BB%) and could be the starter for Pittsburgh if Martin and Buck leave.
11. Josmil Pinto, MIN (AAA) – Repeated AA success from 2012 and carried it over to AAA; with Morneau gone, would Mauer move to 1B/DH with Pinto at C in 2014?
12. Kevin Plawecki, NYM (A+) – Great K/BB ratio, good BA, did well in A and A+ in 2013; potential for power development as he matures.
13. Tyler Marlette, SEA (A) – Greatly improved plate discipline in 2013; could be Seattle’s catcher of future if Zunino doesn’t pan out.
14. Stryker Trahan, ARI (RK) – Young, repeated RK level, and triple slash down from last year; there’s talk he could be moved off of C.
15. Jake Lowery, CLE (AA) – Took steps backward in 2012, but held his own at AA in 2013 and is young for league; that youth does mean he could experience more struggles.
16. Chris Wallace, CLE (AA) – Good average but no power at higher levels; did well at AAA for CLE but they still dropped him to AA, where he did even better; could be splitting time with Gomes in near future if Santana moves to 1B/DH.
2013 Amateur Draft Entries
17. Reese McGuire, PIT (A-) – .330 in 46 G at RK ball, promoted to A-; no HR but there is still the vague “projection to his frame” to hope for.
18. Andrew Knapp, PHI (A-) – .253 in 62 G at A- ball; slightly high K% but okay BB%; failure of Valle/Joseph means he could move up depth chart if he continues to improve.
Check out all of our prospect rankings