We kick off our prospect rankings this week with a look at the catcher position. Joining me for this year’s rankings is our very own Andy Germani, who gave us last season’s Mid Season Top 50 Prospects. 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!
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Who is your favorite prospect to break out in 2016?
Andy: I think Chris Betts could really put up some big numbers in his first season of professional baseball. He was drafted out of high school last year and didn’t play at all after undergoing Tommy John Surgery. It is really hard to evaluate him because he hasn’t played in the minors. From the little I have seen of him he has a nice swing and has some nice power potential from the catching position. I don’t know exactly when he will be ready to start playing in 2016, but I think when he gets the chance to hit he will make the most of it.
Paul: Chance Sisco is a young 20-year-old offensive-minded catcher in the Orioles system. His defense is not great at this point, but if he can stick behind the plate he’s got the potential to be a top catcher for fantasy purposes. He reached AA last year after a .308/.387/.422 line in High A to start the year. He controls the strike zone extremely well and I suspect some power to show up this year. As a high OBP bat with 15 home run potential, Sisco could be making his mark in your fantasy leagues in the next couple of years.
What prospect could make a surprising contribution to fantasy teams in 2016?
Andy: Jorge Alfaro is one of the few catching prospects that has good hitting ability and is close to a major league debut so I think it is him by default. I don’t necessarily like banking on production from catchers in their rookie season because of how few actually produce in their rookie year. If I had to pick one Alfaro is my guy based on pedigree and proximity to the majors.
Paul: Gary Sanchez has the offensive profile to help right away and is major league ready now. The problem is Brian McCann is signed through 2018 with a 2019 option. Not surprisingly McCann’s last two years in New York saw him play in the most games he has seen since 2010. Sanchez won’t “force the issue” so to speak with the heavy-hitting McCann, but he has shown in the AFL that he’s ready to contribute. If he starts hot, I suspect the Yankees will find room for their young power-hitting catcher.
What lesser-known prospect should fantasy owners put on their radars now?
Andy: I don’t know how well he is known, but when I mentioned him to some people in my dynasty leagues they didn’t know who he was so I will go with Dom Nunez. He hit 13 homers last year and provided a solid .282 average with a nice strikeout rate. He still has a few years before he is big league ready, but if he is able to make the big leagues as a Rockie and play in Coors Field that is just an added bonus.
Paul: Andy picked my guy here, so I’ll go with Ali Sanchez of the New York Mets – a player you probably won’t find on any other prospect list. Sanchez was signed out of Venezuela in 2013 at just 16 years old, and is already a strong defender. His offense is a little behind, but he controls the strike zone well. As he grows into his frame I expect some power to develop, potentially making him an exciting catcher prospect down the road. It’s a long ways away, but he should be monitored in deep leagues.
What prospect would it not surprise you if he fell significantly in the next year?
Andy: Tom Murphy isn’t a name at the top of the list, but I think there is a chance he falls off because of his extremely high strikeout rate. Strikeouts for catchers in the minor leagues scare me off more than most positions. When catchers get to the majors they “tend to” focus on defense more than offense and it is hard to improve on that without devoting a lot of focus to it.
Paul: Peter O’Brien will enter Spring Training as a catcher, but I can’t imagine it will be a successful venture for him. The Diamondbacks invested heavily in starting pitching this off-season and likely won’t have a below average receiver win out the back up catcher position behind Welington Castillo. O’Brien’s power is very real, but between his insane strikeout rate and the lack of position, I can see the bottom falling out. I ranked him at #8 because if he managed 20 games per year behind the plate, and stole at bats in the outfield, it wouldn’t take much for him to be a solid fantasy contributor. There’s just significant risk for that scenario to play out.
Come back next Wednesday when we will publish our Top 25 First Base Prospects.
Still need more rankings? Head on over to Fantasy Rundown, where Goose has compiled Prospect Rankings from all the top sites on the web along with rankings for the 2016 season and the best baseball links available.