Mining dynasty catcher prospects is a very tricky job to find a fantasy difference maker. Stumbling on to the next Buster Posey or Gary Sanchez is sometimes as much luck as it is hard work because of the nature of the position.
Major League teams draft catchers often, but learning how to be a good receiver and game caller is something that takes a lot of time. Since high school and college coaches call every pitch, the catcher can only learn by being a part of the process, but never makes those calls on his own. The time to learn how to be a good catcher often comes at the detriment of their bat and experience against higher level competition.
If a MLB team drafts a catcher with an advanced bat, they usually move that player off the position to get his bat into the lineup faster. This also keeps their knees from the years of abuse they take squatting hundreds of times each day. Bryce Harper was moved to the outfield for this very reason.
Usually, the big hitters who end up behind the plate are only there for a short time before they are moved to a position where their defense is less exposed.
In most fantasy leagues, the top catchers go quickly and if you don’t get one of the Top 5, you are likely scrambling for a hot bat. I see a lot of owners grab a guy who is durable and will get some counting stats just by showing up to work every day, but is little more than roster filler. Since punting the position is not a great way to win a fantasy title, let’s look at who could help you in all of the categories.
Alfaro has been on the radar of fantasy players for years now. We have all been waiting for him to show the power bat that got him signed as a 16 year old. But that power will be tempered by his below average ability to make contact. He already has the starting gig in Philadelphia, but he will need to keep his batting average north of .260 to be quality fantasy performer. Even though he is not a base stealer, he has sneaky speed so don’t be surprised if he starts to swipe a half dozen or so bases each season.
Sisco could be in the “Stay Away” grouping, except that he is already getting MLB at bats. In his favor, he is on the good side of the Baltimore catching platoon. Even though he is a switch hitter, his right-handed hitting is greatly lacking and he might be better off hitting from the left side no matter the pitcher. To boot, his catching skills are below average, so he might not get a lot of leash.
Mejia is the stud of this group and is a very good hitter with solid power and no speed. This switch hitter is the kind of guy usually moved to another position so his bat can flourish, but he’s staying put behind the dish. His hitting is certainly no fluke as demonstrated by a 50 game hitting streak in A-ball. I see his comp as Joe Mauer in his catching days. ETA: late 2018
Ruiz is Mejia-lite. He will display good average with a little less power and the same lack of speed. He also has very good catching skills, similar to Mejia. Ruiz will hit for a high average that will show as more of a doubles hitter than a home run crusher. The Dodgers will likely put Ruiz on the slow boat to The Show, so don’t look for Ruiz until 2020 at the earliest.
Roll the Dice
Jackson was drafted by Seattle and was moved away from catcher as his catching skills were lacking and to push his bat. When the bat slowed its progression, Seattle traded him for a bunch of nothing and Atlanta grabbed him and moved him back to catcher.
He is a serious power threat with average contact skills. If he can put it together, he could be a 25-homer guy. If not, he could become a high school baseball coach before his 30th birthday. ETA: late 2019 or, after he completes his teaching certification, in a classroom near you.
Collins is the ultimate three-outcome hitter (homer, walk or strikeout). If you think that two of the three results are pretty good, consider that he has a career minor league batting average of .195. One has to hope that he will work on his bat skills, but I just don’t see him becoming a good enough hitting catcher to make it all worth the roster spot. ETA: 2019
Tip of the Week
If you are willing to keep scrambling, you can often find a hot hitting free agent catcher. It seems that at any given time, there are a few catchers with scorching bats just waiting to get snapped up. Unfortunately, that means you will likely get a platoon hitter or a guy who could cool off without warning. To do this, you need to continually scour the waiver wire, but the results could really pay off without having to make a great investment other than your time.