MLB Prospect Rankings Review: A Look at Our Preseason Consensus Catcher Rankings

Stephen Brashear

Jason Hunt revisits the Fake Teams consensus prospect rankings at the catcher position from the preseason, along with whether each prospect improved (or worsened) how they are viewed with their performance this year.

Prospect rankings remain a snapshot of a moment in time, as more information is gathered constantly and new reports can change any number of perceptions on a player's future value. With the end of the minor league season, now's a good time to take a look back at our preseason prospect rankings, and see how some of these perceptions might have changed.

The catcher position doesn't tend to be crawling with a lot of prospects that can provide above-average offensive production, and after about the first seven or eight players on this list, it can get ugly fast. That said, catching prospects that could potentially provide value in at least one category are likely to have value in deeper and single-league formats, and are at least worth tracking.

Note: These are not new rankings. These rankings were originally released in November of 2012.

Consensus Top 20 Catcher Prospects

# Player Org Highest Level Reached
1 Travis d'Arnaud NYM MLB
2 Mike Zunino SEA MLB
3 Gary Sanchez NYY AA
4 Blake Swihart BOS A+
5 Stryker Trahan ARI Rookie
6 Austin Hedges SD AA
7 Jorge Alfaro TEX A+
8 Clint Coulter MIL Rookie
9 Rob Brantly MIA MLB
10 Sebastian Valle PHI AA
11 Will Swanner COL A+
12 Jake Realmuto MIA AA
13 Kevin Plawecki NYM A+
14 Max Stassi HOU MLB
15 Tommy Joseph PHI AAA
16 James McCann DET AA
17 Gabriel Lino PHI A
18 Marcus Littlewood SEA A
19 Carlos Perez HOU AAA
20 Christian Bethancourt ATL AA

Three Up

Austin Hedges - The key with Hedges has always been whether he can provide enough offense to be a usable fantasy catcher, as his defense is absolutely his calling card. Hedges was moved quickly, reaching AA on August 1st after posting a .270/.343/.425 slash line at High-A Lake Elsinore, and seems to have raised his floor more than improved his ceiling. He's a prospect where his real-life value is higher than his fantasy value, but if he can end up hitting for a decent average and at least a little power he should still be a starter in most leagues.

Max Stassi - There were questions about whether Stassi's improved production were due at least in part to his time spent in the California League, but he showed that the power production was legit at AA. Traded to the Astros in the offseason, Stassi hit 17 home runs with Corpus Christi, and even earned a call up just before September. Unfortunately, he took a pitch to the face in his second game in the Majors, and has been on the disabled list since. It's unclear what his role will be with the Astros next year, given the emergence of Jason Castro, but he could end up at least as the backup there.

Will Swanner - Swanner split time this year with Ryan Casteel, and while he may end up being behind Casteel on some rankings this year, he still had a solid season with 13 home runs and 25 doubles in 100 games at High-A Modesto. It remains to be seen whether he can provide enough batting average to keep from hurting you in the category, but a catcher who can provide solid production in even one category can have value in a lot of leagues.

Three Down

Mike Zunino - It's really hard to judge whether Zunino was harmed by being brought up in early June despite not performing well at the plate at AAA Tacoma before that. However, the Mariners needed a catcher, and it's entirely possible that what he still needed to work on could only be accomplished in the Majors by playing every day. He could be a nice sleeper going into next year, as he could be a bit forgotten if he passes the rookie threshold (currently at 118 at bats).

Rob Brantly - Poor performance in the first couple months of the season led to him splitting time, and eventually being demoted back to AAA in mid August. While it wasn't expected that he would provide above-average production at the position, he was anticipated to at least provide a decent batting average and hold onto the starting job in general. At this point, I wonder if the Marlins end up trying to find another catcher this offseason to at least platoon with Brantly, or just replace him outright.

Sebastian Valle/Tommy Joseph - To say that the Phillies' catching prospects hurt their long term outlook with this year's performance is probably an understatement. Joseph was essentially out for the season after suffering a concussion in early May, and appeared in just 38 games in total. Valle's performance at AA while splitting time with Cameron Rupp didn't exactly set the world on fire either, as he hit .203/.245/.359 on the season with 12 home runs in just 354 at bats. However, Rupp was actually promoted to AAA when Joseph got hurt, and performed reasonably well there (.269/.309/.423, 6 HR in 182 AB). The Phillies will have an opening for a new starting catcher this offseason if they do not resign Carlos Ruiz, and I could easily see an open competition amongst these three catchers for that job.

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