Prospect Positional Values: Catcher

So many times top prospects fail, about 70 percent of the time according to the research I did last year. So we’re already playing with our backs against the wall here.

There are so many things going against these players. Multiple levels of minor leagues before even getting the chance to produce in the majors. The position to start this series has even more roadblocks ahead of them.

Catchers have to deal with the daily beating of playing behind the plate, multiple things to focus on (must know opposing hitters, not just pitchers), not being an everyday player for the sake of their health, and sometimes if the bat is really good enough they move them somewhere else to keep them healthy and in the lineup everyday.

This is really the only position where I have a pretty obvious strategy when it comes to prospects. Format doesn’t really change how I handle the position. Twelve catchers started or 30; I still don’t want to invest much in the position. If you have to start a lot, I’ll just take someone who is getting at bats. Sure the difference between Buster Posey and say Austin Hedges is huge, but only one person can have Posey.

Odds are the difference between your lowly catcher and someone else on average is the difference from Stephen Vogt to Hedges. Rankings might have them miles apart, but remember how bad the position is. Vogt had 14 homers with a .251 average last season, yet the horrible Tucker Barnhart, just by the way of at bats, was marginally worse than Vogt.

If you have a high-end catching prospect I would look to flip him somewhere else, assuming you can get value. If you can’t get value now just wait it out – either until the impending promotion or until something comes along that blows you away. Trading prospects is a lot different than trading MLB players. You should never be forcing the trade of a prospect off of your roster.

If you have any questions on any players feel free to ask about them in the comment section below or on Twitter

Note: Just because a player isn’t mentioned doesn’t mean I like or dislike them; I just feel like their current value falls in line with what it should be.

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I’m going to be honest; it is a real buzzkill for me to start with catcher because I hate the position so much for fantasy. But hey, from here on out it will be fun! 

If you are looking for the top-20 prospect catcher rankings click here. We will continue to have prospect rankings on Friday’s and my values the following week.



Overvalued

Francisco Mejia – He is easily, to me, the top fantasy catching prospect right now. So it might not make sense to have him in the overvalued. Mejia looks like one of the best hitting prospects at the position in the minors right now after last season. His 50-game hitting streak put him on the map last year after hitting just .243 in 2015.

I do think Mejia is a good enough hitter to make things work, but we can’t ignore the bad 2015 season and the fact that his breakout year came with more than half of his season repeating a level. I do care less about repeating a level at catcher than I do at other positions because of the other aspects of the position.

So why overvalued? It mainly has to do with what I said in the introduction. I just don’t value catching prospects. A lot of people are going to be really excited about Mejia here in the coming months because of how high he appears on offseason lists. He should be at or near the top of every positional rankings for catcher and appear in just about every top-100 list.

If you could move him for just about any top-100 prospect I would do it. Maybe Dylan Cease or Triston McKenzie.

Jorge Alfaro – I don’t want to beat a dead horse here, but Alfaro is in the same boat as Mejia. Alfaro has been around a lot longer so there is more to trust. But just what are you hoping for here?

His best offensive season came probably in 2013 where he primarily played in A-ball and hit 18 homers with a .265/.346/.463 triple slash line. I think there is a lot more hype here about the all around player than the fantasy player.

At least for Mejia there was one true breakout season to get people excited. Do people suddenly think Alfaro turns into a superstar at the MLB level after being just “fine” hitting in the minors?

With him probably getting a lot of time in the majors this season I think you can get a nice return for him if you deal him before he gets there. I wouldn’t want to wait until after he does.

Jacob Nottingham – I read or heard some reports that there is concern about him staying at the position long term.

The decent average with 15-20 homers per season doesn’t really play all that well at first base like it does at catcher.

Chris Okey & Tyler Stephenson – I am tying these guys together like I did with our prospect rankings. There is a link in the introduction to the original. It mainly comes down to the fact I don’t want to wait four or five years for someone who is “safe” when safe is probably a .260 hitter with little power. I would rather have just about any J2 or 2016 MLB draftee than either of these guys.

Good Values

I am going to be honest here. I am not likely to own these guys in any league I play in unless something dramatic happens with them this season. In a 30 team league with a 20 player minor league system I wouldn’t, and dont, own any of these guys. So maybe in lieu of good values they should just be “the guys to keep an eye on”, or something to that avail.

Chase Vallot – I want upside out of a catcher, and I think he has it. He has some nice power, and not surprisingly it comes with a high strikeout rate. His 36 percent strikeout rate, yes you read that right, is going to really make it hard for him to make it to the big league level.

If you want something to get excited about; he hit 15 home runs last season in just 365 at bats. So while he hit a pretty ugly .235 he did manage to slug .454. Throughout 162 games in A-ball in 2015 and 2016 he hit 26 homers.

What you need to keep an eye out for this year is a decreased strikeout rate. If Vallot can manage to keep the power at a fairly similar level but get that strikeout rate down to a more manageable 28-30 percent his value could really take off.

Yermin Mercedes – After a fantastic season that really came out of no where last season it will definitely be worth watching how he handles AA, assuming he goes there. He showed some really nice power and the ability to hit without striking out much.

My guess is that with Mercedes you will have more time to wait and see with him than you would with someone like Vallot because of name recognition/prior pedigree. However, I do have a feeling that if he is hitting .300 with a 25 homer pace in July a lot of people will be talking about him because of his interesting story.

Ryan January – An eighth round catcher taken after a freshman year of college – who cares, and normally I wouldn’t even look in his direction.

But it was kind of hard to ignore the 10 homers in 213 plate appearances in his first taste of minor league baseball. Like Vallot, it does come with some issues making contact.

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If you have any questions or players at a position I haven’t gotten to yet also leave them in the comment section below and I can do some digging and maybe they will be included when I get to that position.

Previous Prospect Values
First BaseSecond BaseThird BaseShortstopOutfield pt 1Outfield pt 2 – Starting Pitcher

 

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Andy Germani
I am a lifelong Pittsburgh sports fan and a graduate from Penn State. Baseball was my first love and I still play to this day in an adult baseball league. I always love helping people with their questions on Twitter so feel free to follow me and ask questions.
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