We kick off our prospect rankings this week with a look at the catcher position. Joining me again for this year’s rankings is our very own Andy Germani. Our rankings will be consolidated to give you our final site rankings, but you can see where Andy and I ranked them in the table as well.
These are fantasy rankings, and I remind you that Andy and I are not scouts, just simply heavy followers of baseball prospects. We hope you enjoy the rankings!
|5||Zack Collins||White Sox||21||2018||6||3|
|7||Max Pentecost||Blue Jays||23||2019||8||8|
Who is your favorite prospect to break out in 2017?
Andy: I think Chase Vallot has a real chance to go from a name people have heard of to a top prospect at the position by next season. There is a lot of risk here, but if I am investing in a catcher this is the kind of guy I am going for with his 20-plus home run potential. His biggest issue is how much he strikes out. That is what could hold him back as he hasn’t shown any sign of fixing that problem. Someone with a better chance would probably be Garrett Stubbs, who is more of an all-around player with potential to produce in every category.
Paul: Injuries have prevented Max Pentecost from playing in 100 games since he was drafted in 2014. There is even considerable risk that he will never be able to stick behind the plate now because of them. If he does, though, he has tremendous upside with his solid tools across the board. Already 23 years old, if he can manage to stay healthy in 2017, it should be a coming out party for the former first-rounder.
What prospect could make a surprising contribution to fantasy teams in 2017?
Andy: Tom Murphy is the easy call here to me. At the position there just aren’t enough guys on a yearly basis that are going to come up and get quality at bats. Many of the top guys have real issues on how they will get playing time in the majors. By default, Murphy kind of becomes my guy. He would get a lot of at bats in Colorado and has already shown some nice promise in a small MLB sample.
Paul: Jorge Alfaro by all intents and purposes had a disappointing big league cameo in 2016. He hit just .125, going 2-16 with 8 strikeouts. This was coming off a season in Reading where he hit 15 home runs in 404 at bats while batting .285. Maybe Cameron Rupp is the stopgap to Alfaro for another year, or maybe Alfaro’s awesome tools start to show themselves and he gets the playing time nod. There’s risk here (and obviously a lot for 2017), but there’s enough power here to crack into the top ten fantasy catchers as soon as he becomes Philadelphia’s #1 catcher.
What lesser-known prospect should fantasy owners put on their radars now?
Andy: Yermin Mercedes. I really hadn’t heard of him until I was digging around some minor league leaderboards from last year. He had a .345/.404/.570 slash with 20 homers. Why is he under the radar? He is 23, played last year in A-ball, was previously cut and he played 2014 in the independent league. If you want people in a deep league to think you’re a genius this might be the lottery ticket to grab.
Paul: Keibert Ruiz of the Dodgers has a ton of risk at just 18 years old, and with a .354/.393/.503 line that was put up in the hitter-friendly PCL. But, this is young backstop who was signed for his defense, who may get his first taste of full-season ball next year at 19. I wouldn’t use a minor league slot yet on him, except in the very deepest of leagues. Stashing him now means you will be stuck holding on to him for the next five years. Just keep an eye on him.
What prospect would it not surprise you if he fell significantly in the next year?
Andy: I already have them pretty low, but it would be the Reds catchers Chris Okey and Tyler Stephenson. They’re both young and probably hot names to a lot of people, but what do they really project as? Little power, a decent average, and they are both really far away. It might just be my philosophy but I don’t want to wait around 4-5 years on a catcher prospect that might hit .250 with 10 homers. A big name that could fall would be Jacob Nottingham. I have seen reports that there are real concerns with him being able to stick at catcher, and at that point his value would plummet even if his stats don’t change.
Paul: With the Carlos Ruiz trade, Austin Barnes is in position for more playing time in 2017. He has great on base skills, walking as much as he struck out throughout his minor league career. His receiving is even solid enough that he should retain eligibility even if he fills a super utility role with the Dodgers. He even stole 18 bases in 85 AAA games last year. There’s a lot to like here, but Barnes may be one of those better-in-real-life type players. He just turned 27, and hasn’t played more than 106 games since 2014. He has little power and may never end up with a full-time role. Nice player who I’m rooting for, but I’m not sure he won’t be exposed by big league pitching. That will cement his role as a 200-300 at bat utility player.
Come back next Friday when we will publish our Top 25 First Base Prospects.
2017 Prospect Rankings
First Base – Second Base – Third Base – Shortstop – Outfield – Starting Pitcher – Top 100
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