Top 10 Fantasy Catcher Prospects for 2019 Redraft Leagues
|Player||Team||Opening Day Age||Highest Level|
|Player||Team||Opening Day Age||Highest Level|
Note: If Carson Kelly still technically qualified as a prospect he would rank No. 4 on this list above and would be the third Diamondback on the Top 20. Not to be outdone, the Dodgers are represented a whopping four times on the Top 20 catching prospects. Sometimes the rich get richer.
Top 20 Long-Term Catcher Prospects
1. Francisco Mejia, San Diego Padres (23, MLB) – Playing time concerns and small sample size MLB batting average is the recipe for a buy low opportunity on the No. 1 prospect.
2. Daulton Varsho, Arizona Diamondbacks (22, Low A) – We saw the Diamondbacks produce game changing speed from anther position that produced the clear-cut number one fantasy player at that position for several years. Varsho led all minor league catchers in stolen bases.
3. Joey Bart, San Francisco Giants (22, Low A) – The No. 2 overall pick of the 2018 draft with big time power and the likelihood to stick at catcher.
4. Danny Jansen, Toronto Blue Jays (23, MLB) – A starting catcher with great plate discipline and lowest swinging strike rate in Triple-A last year among catchers.
5. Keibert Ruiz, Los Angeles Dodgers (20, Double-A) – Switch-hitting catcher with a safe floor and excellent hit tool.
6. Willians Astudillo, Minnesota Twins (27, MLB) – Does not walk or strike out and will be fun to watch.
7. Ronaldo Hernandez, Tampa Bay Rays (21, A) – 20 homer, 10 steal season with a great line drive rate.
8. William Contreras, Atlanta Braves (21, High A) – his brother, Willson, hit 11 homers in 86 games in Single-A at age 21 while batting .248. William also hit 11 homers in 82 games while hitting .293.
9. Andrew Kninzer, St. Louis Cardinals (24, Double-A) – The new heir apparent to Mr. Molina hits around .300 and does not like to strike out.
10. Bo Naylor, Cleveland Indians (19, Rookie) – The Indians replaced Mejia with someone with a similar profile in the 2018 draft.
11. Diego Cartaya, Los Angeles Dodgers (17, International Signee) – Widely regarded as one of the best pure hitters in the 2018 international class besides Victor Victor Mesa.
12. MJ Melendez, Kansas City Royals (20, Single-A) – Heir apparent to Mr. Perez had a 19-homer season but struck out 30% of the time.
13. Austin Allen, San Diego Padres (24, Double-A) – Back-to-back 22-homer seasons batting above .280 with a high line drive rate, but blocked at the MLB level.
14. Sean Murphy, Oakland Athletics (24, Triple-A) – Injury prevented a promotion last year and has little blocking him from the chance to earn a starting MLB role.
15. Connor Wong, Los Angeles Dodgers (22, High-A) – 19-homer season with an elite line drive rate, but struck out 32% of the time.
16. Will Smith, Los Angeles Dodgers (23, Triple-A) – Great power, but strikes out too frequently to fend off Ruiz.
17. Miguel Amaya, Chicago Cubs (20, Single-A) – 12-homer season with a strikeout rate of under 20 percent.
18. Andy Yerzy, Arizona Diamondbacks (20, Low-A) – Good contact and decent pop but very blocked behind Carson Kelly and Daulton Varsho at the moment.
19. Alejandro Kirk, Toronto Blue Jays (20, Rookie) – His batting average and BABIP were both .354, he had more walks than strikeouts, hit 10 HR in 58 games, and had a 5.1% swinging strike rate.
20. Eric Haase, Cleveland Indians (26, MLB) – A very poor man’s Joey Gallo at catcher with a decent chance to earn playing time.
Safest Stud - Francisco Mejia, San Diego Padres
Francisco Mejia had a poor batting average in his first taste of the show. However, he did show pop to pace to be in the top three catchers in homers. He has a plus hit tool and has not shown it yet at the MLB level. In Class A/A+ in 102 games, he hit .342 with 11 HR plus one of those 50-game hitting streaks everyone is doing these days. In Double-A, over 92 games he hit .297 with 14 HR. In Triple-A, in 110 games he hit 14 HR while batting .293 after an ice cold start. He started heating up in June, accumulating an eight-game steak in which he had multiple hits. He hit .328 with seven homers over 31 games in El Paso after he was traded for Brad Hand.
His lack of success in the MLB is a result of a limited sample size. His BABIP over the two call-ups were .200 and .206 respectively. In his 2017 taste of the Majors, he had a 30% line drive rate and only a .154 batting average to show for it. In 2018, his strikeout rate was over 30%. He had never posted a rate higher than 19% in the minor leagues. I believe Mejia will be an asset to your fantasy team with respect to batting average and could be a .285 average and 20-homer player. He’s got Top 5 catcher upside and should stick at the position in the future. The Padres have been very active in trade talks and if they opt to move Austin Hedges, Mejia will benefit from increased playing time. The Padres moved Brad Hand who was signed to a team-friendly contract in order to acquire Mejia, so they are quite invested in his development. This is likely the lowest you will see his stock heading into the 2019 season.
Boom or Bust - Willians Astudillo, Minnesota Twins
He is 27 years old and essentially a minor league journeyman. His walk rate has never been higher than 3.3% since 2015. But the guy has not posted a strikeout rate of over 5%....ever! Of his nine seasons in the minors, he hit over .300 six times while never hitting below .250. He began generating more power in 2018. However, the signing of Nelson Cruz by the Twins—who already roster two catchers and Miguel Sano—does not help his chances of earning playing time. He’s one of the more trendy names this offseason, and how could you not be trendy when you do this?
Willians Astudillo may have broken every single one of baseball's unwritten rules on one home run pic.twitter.com/LD6e73C1Eh— ESPN (@espn) January 9, 2019
Highest Ceiling – Daulton Varsho, Arizona Diamondbacks
Currently blocked by the new acquisition of Carson Kelly, Varsho will likely spend this year in Double-A and/or Triple-A. In 2018, he led all minor league catchers in stolen bases, successfully stealing 19 bases on 22 attempts. He can run, as he’s been graded as high as a 60-grade runner. And if you don’t trust the scouts, he had three triples last season. The concern is that he may not stick behind the plate. However, if he does, he has a chance to be a difference maker at the catcher position adding about 15 bags. He is not without pop as he hit 11 homers in 80 games at High A with an above average line drive rate.
Fastest Riser – Keibert Ruiz, Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers currently roster Russell Martin and Austin Barnes. Not the most exciting sentence you’ll read during Catcher Week. The Dodgers also had a 23-year-old top prospect crack 19 homers in Triple A last season – Will Smith. Keibert finished 2018 in Double-A as a 20-year-old. Keibert’s defense and and hit tool present the safest floor and he is their long term solution. He also has room for development of increased power from the right side of the plate. Given how crowded the position could get at the MLB level, many are fading Ruiz in seasonal leagues. I will give you three reasons not to:
1. The Fresh Prince strikes out an alarming rate – 37.8% in Triple-A last season
2. Both veteran catchers have positional versatility, opening up playing time behind the plate. Also, if you haven’t noticed, Russell Martin is no longer good at hitting baseballs.
3. The Jays promoted Danny Jansen last season to learn from Russell Martin. Martin is under contract for one more season. It would be a smart move for the Dodgers to promote Ruiz sometime during 2019 to learn the ropes from a catcher who had a run of making the playoffs in nine out of 11 years from 2006 through 2016.
Please let me know who I’ve missed in the comments below!