Dynasty Catchers: Top MLB Prospects for Fantasy Baseball

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Welcome back, RotoBallers. I've already looked at the top 10 prospects for each MLB team, and now I'll be breaking down impact prospects by position. Today I'm bringing you my top 10 catchers - dynasty prospect rankings for 2017 dynasty baseball leagues.

The catching position has gone from one of the strongest offensive positions in baseball to one of the weakest. Former stars like Brian McCann and Yadier Molina are starting to lose their fantasy appeal while guys like Joe Mauer and Victor Martinez have since shifted away from the position.

With that said, there are some potential rising stars at the position. In addition to Gary Sanchez (does not qualify for this list), guys like Jorge Alfaro, Tom Murphy, Francisco Mejia and Zack Collins could all be up in just a few seasons and start to make catchers hit again. If fantasy owners can get a hold of some of these guys, they could get a real leg up on the competition and gain a franchise catcher before the opposition does.

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Top 10 Catcher Prospects for 2017 Dynasty Baseball Leagues

1. Jorge Alfaro (PHI, MLB)
Stats: (from AA) 435 PA, .285/.325/.458, 15 HR, 3 SB, 5.1% BB rate, 24.1% K rate
ETA: Mid-2017
There is no bat poised to be the next Gary Sanchez-level breakout, but if anyone could do it, it would probably be Alfaro. The Phillies backstop has labored in the minors for a long time, and now is starting to flash all of the tools in games that scouts have seen coming in him for years. He has a ton of power and has now brought his defense to become “passable” where he might be able to stay behind the dish in Philadelphia. Alfaro is the franchise catcher for the Phillies and could be a valuable asset to dynasty owners in need of a potent bat at the offensively-challenged position.

2. Tom Murphy (COL, MLB)
Stats: (from AAA) 321 PA, .327/.361/.647, 19 HR, 1 SB, 5.0% BB rate, 24.3% K rate
ETA: Opening Day
It was surprisingly tempting to put Murphy in the top spot for catcher. Ultimately, I have more questions about Murphy’s plate discipline as a soon-to-be 26-year-old than I do about Alfaro as a 23-year-old. With that said, Murphy is a slugging catcher playing in Coors Field with the chance to become an offensive-minded regular. Strikeouts could sink his batting average and Dom Nunez could come back to relevancy and challenge Murphy down the road, but right now Murphy just has to beat out Tony Wolters in the battle for PT to be a 25-30-home run threat behind the dish.

3. Zack Collins (CWS, A+)
Stats: 153 PA, .258/.418/.467, 6 HR, 0 SB, 21.6% BB rate, 25.5% K rate
ETA: Mid-2018
Collins has the chance to be the best overall hitter in this group of catchers, but the question will always surround his defensive ability which has been graded questionable at best. A move to first base tanks his fantasy value, but staying behind the plate would be a huge boost for dynasty owners making the investment in him. He has the best chance among the top three to hit over .300 at some point in his career and will almost certainly prove to be a 20-homer threat, but none of this matters if he can’t stick behind the dish.

4. Francisco Mejia (CLE, A+)
Stats: 184 PA, .333/.380/.488, 4 HR, 1 SB, 7.1% BB rate, 13.0% K rate
ETA: Mid-2018
Collins has the best chance to hit over .300 in the top three, but Mejia has probably the best chance to accomplish that milestone out of all the catching prospects available. He is a remarkably consistent bat, as evidenced by that 50-game hit streak and is capable of handling the defensive aspect of the catching position. The only concern with Mejia is that 2016 was a fluke and that he is really the .243/.324/.345 hitter of 2015. But my money is on him developing into a consistent producer of batting average with 10-15 home runs per season.

5. Carson Kelly (STL, MLB)
Stats: (from AAA) 126 PA, .292/.352/.381, 0 HR, 0 SB, 8.7% BB rate, 13.5% K rate
ETA: Late 2017
Kelly’s fantasy stock no doubt skyrocketed when he was named the top catching prospect MLB Prospect Pipeline, but the wily fantasy owners will probably already understand this had more to do with his defense than his bat. With that said, there is still plenty to love in his bat. He combines a disciplined approach just enough thump to be a future .270+ hitter with 10-15 home runs at the highest level. He should not be a franchise catcher for any dynasty owner out there, but he should certainly be a middle-tier catcher moving forward.

6. Chance Sisco (BAL, AAA)
Stats: (from AA) 479 PA, .320/.406/.422, 4 HR, 2 SB, 12.3% BB rate, 17.3% K rate
ETA: Late 2017/Early 2018
The only other consistent batting average guy on this list besides Mejia is Sisco. The Orioles’ next franchise catcher after Matt Wieters has made a living out of making consistent contact and producing more gap-to-gap liners than home runs. He is strictly a one-tool player from an offensive standpoint as he lacks power and speed, but he should have no issues posting a .280+ average over a full body of work at the big-league level. He just needs to get past Welington Castillo and he will be ready to become Baltimore’s full-time catcher.

7. Jacob Nottingham (MIL, AA)
Stats: 456 PA, .234/.295/.347, 11 HR, 9 SB, 6.4% BB rate, 30.3% K rate
ETA: Mid-2018
Nottingham faces the difficult challenge that many others before him have faced: will his defense at catcher come back to bite his bat. There is no doubt he can hit. He has power and though he struggled a bit to make consistent contact in 2016, Nottingham still has the faith of scouts that he will eventually develop a more refined approach at the plate. His defense, however, could eventually force him out from behind the dish. If he moves to first, his bat will play poorly and sap all of his fantasy value away.

8. Garrett Stubbs (HOU, AA)
Stats: 137 PA, .325/.401/.517, 4 HR, 5 SB, 10.2% BB rate, 8.0% K rate
ETA: Late 2017
Stubbs impressed everyone with an absolutely stellar 2016 campaign. In 31 games at Double-A, he walked more than he struck out and posted the highest average of his career. Scouts at this point are convinced he has what it takes to hit at the big-league level. And overall, he is an excellent defender. The big concern is that he is smaller than any current catcher in the majors, standing at only 5-foot-10, 175 pounds. But if he can hit and play solid defense, his size should not matter and he should go on to be a productive catcher for dynasty owners.

9. Tyler Stephenson (CIN, A)
Stats: 153 PA, .216/.278/.324, 3 HR, 0 SB, 7.8% BB rate, 29.4% K rate
ETA: 2020
We now go from a guy who was criticized for being too small to someone criticized for being too big. Stephenson stands in at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds and is an absolute force at the plate. Impressively, he has shown in his limited minor-league time that he can handle himself well. The question at this point is just whether or not he can stay healthy and develop his bat the way many see him as being capable of. When he was drafted, he was seen as an offensive-minded regular. He has immense upside and could wind up as one of the best hitters on this list, but he has a long way to go and a lot left to prove.

10. Chase Vallot (KC, A)
Stats: 330 PA, .246/.367, 13 HR, 0 SB, 11.8% BB rate, 35.8% K rate
ETA: 2019
Speaking of a lot left to prove, Vallot has for years been seen as a future offensive-first bat in the Royals’ organization. The 20-year-old catcher has shown a ton of power and scouts have no doubt he will be a major home run threat if he reaches the majors. But first, he will have to prove he can hit with some more consistency and clean up his defensive play behind the dish.

 

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