2017 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 - MLB prospect rankings for the 2017 fantasy baseball season.

Catching prospects can often come in and play a huge role for fantasy baseball owners. In 2015, J.T. Realmuto and James McCann broke out for fantasy owners and their fantasy owners while in 2016, Gary Sanchez and Willson Contreras were incredibly productive for fantasy owners.

This season might be a different story. There aren’t as many catchers out there who look to be explosive prospects. Tom Murphy could be solid in Colorado, but no one else will open up with a guaranteed spot for playing time. Injuries could change anything, but rookie catchers does not figure to have as much of an impact this season as they did last year.

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Top 10 Catcher Prospects for 2017 Fantasy Baseball

1. 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
Do you want a power-hitter catching at Coors Field? You should and that’s exactly what Murphy brings to the table. Murphy has game-changing power, more than just about any other catcher in baseball and Coors Field could turn him into a 30 home run hitter at the big-league level. He has some serious plate discipline issues which will keep his batting average down in the low-mid-.200s, but the power should be well worth owning. And manager Bud Black has already said Murphy and Wolters will split starting time behind the dish. Look for Murphy to be so explosive that by mid-season, he establishes himself as the full-time starter at catcher.

2. Bruce Maxwell (OAK, MLB)
Stats: (from AAA) 219 PA, .321/.393/.539, 10 HR, 1 SB, 11.0% BB rate, 17.4% K rate
ETA: Mid-May
Maxwell had not strung together the most impressive professional career before 2016, but he was clicking on all cylinders throughout last season. He mashed Triple-A so much that he actually received quite a bit of playing time in the big leagues after his promotion. He hit quite well up there, but will probably still begin 2017 in the minors. With that said, the A’s are mired in a rebuild and he is exactly the kind of guy you want to see receive playing time. He may force Stephen Vogt to the DH spot if he tears up Nashville again at the start of the season.

3. 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: Early August
Alfaro has been considered one of the top catching prospects in baseball for a very long time. He has always shown a ton of raw power with an absolute cannon for an arm, and now everything else seems to be falling into place for him. He is becoming a much better all-around defender and he lowered his strikeout rate from last season. Alfaro is not going to be the next Gary Sanchez, but he is undoubtedly the catcher with the most upside remaining in the minors. If he impresses early at Triple-A, he could force himself past Cameron Rupp and Andrew Knapp on the Phillies’ catcher depth chart really quickly and be an extremely productive catcher for fantasy owners.

4. Mitch Garver (MIN, AAA)
Stats: (from AA) 407 PA, .257/.334/.419, 11 HR, 1 SB, 10.6% BB rate, 21.1% K rate
ETA: Mid-May
Garver is not the most noteworthy catcher out there, but he does not have an overly difficult path to playing time in Minnesota. Jason Castro was recently signed to a deal there, but if Garver can hit like he did in 2016, he may force them to promote him to the big leagues. He started to show off some of his raw power for the first time since Class-A back in 2014 and also proved that he could carry his strong plate discipline numbers into the higher levels of the minors. With the Twins in a rebuilding stage, Garver is the kind of player they will likely want to see perform at the big leagues if he does enough to impress at Triple-A. If he receives a promotion to the big leagues, he could be a sleeper catcher prospect as his name does not show up on a lot of top prospect lists.

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: Mid-June
Kelly was recently named the top catching prospect by MLB.com and it is easy to see why. He has always been a very solid defender behind the plate, but he finally started to show off the bat in 2016. Though he did not hit a single home run at Triple-A, scouts saw a lot of raw power potential in his swing and they think he could be a 15 homer threat if given the playing time. He will not start off the season with the big-league club and will only play if Yadier Molina is hurt, but Molina is getting up there in age and fantasy owners in redraft leagues need to be at least aware of who the guy is who will take over the starting catching spot if Molina is hurt.

6. Austin Barnes (LAD, MLB)
Stats: (from AAA) 385 PA, .295/.380/.443, 6 HR, 18 SB, 11.2% BB rate, 13.8% K rate
ETA: Opening Day
Barnes is considered the favorite to open the season as the backup catcher to Yasmani Grandal, which already makes him a bit valuable. Though he has not always hit for a ton of power, Barnes has consistently hit for a high average in the minors while also flashing some decent speed. If he ever gets a chance to start on a regular basis in Los Angeles, he could put up numbers resembling J.T. Realmuto.

7. 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: Early June
Sisco, like Barnes, does not possess the most exciting skillset. He does not possess much of any power and he is not particularly fast, but he combines excellent plate discipline with solid hand-to-eye coordination which should help him maintain a high average in the majors. Matt Wieters is now gone from Baltimore, and while Welington Castillo could keep Sisco in the minors for a while, the Orioles may elect to see what Sisco is capable of in the beginning of the summer. He could be a solid two-catcher or deep redraft league add if it looks like he may receive consistent, starting playing time.

8. Zack Collins (CWS, A+)
Stats: 153 PA, .258/.418/.467, 6 HR, 0 SB, 21.6% BB rate, 25.5% K rate
ETA: Mid-August
No one you did misread that stat line, Collins did walk 21.6 percent of the time. Collins is very patient and one of the most potent bats at the catching position in the minors and could be an elite contributor if he is called up. There is no one necessarily keeping Collins down in the minors, but he will need to shore up his defensive ability if he is going to get called up. If he defends well enough to build confidence in the White Sox front office, he could get a chance to start in the latter half of the season and might have a major impact on fantasy playoff races.

9. Garrett Stubbs (HOU, AA)
Stats: 137 PA, .325/.401/.517, 4 HR, 5 SB, 10.2% BB rate, 8.0% K rate
ETA: Early June
Stubbs is a lot like Maxwell and Garver in that he was not well known before the 2016 season, but a great season between Class-A Advanced and Double-A helped him gain some name recognition among prospect evaluators. He is very undersized for a catcher, but he has been able to hold his own against the higher levels. He will not unseat Brian McCann and Evan Gattis anytime soon, especially since the Astros figure to be in playoff contention, but if any of the two current sluggers get hurt, Stubbs will probably be the first name called up and he could have a real impact on redraft leagues.

10. Francisco Mejia (CLE, A+)
Stats: 184 PA, .333/.380/.488, 4 HR, 1 SB, 7.1% BB rate, 13.0% K rate
ETA: Mid-August
Mejia gained a ton of recognition in 2016 for his 50-game hit streak between Class-A and High-A. During that time, it just seemed to be impossible to get him out. But even after that hit streak came to an end, he still continued to be a consistently great hitter. He not only reached base at a high clip, but he also made real strides in keeping his strikeout rate low. He does not have a ton of power nor is he all that fast, but he could still be a valuable fantasy asset if given playing time. If Yan Gomes gets hurt and Roberto Perez loses some of his 2016 magic, Mejia could start for Cleveland towards the end of the summer.



2017 Fantasy Baseball Rankings