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Welcome back, RotoBallers. I'll be breaking down impact prospects in dynasty leagues by position over the next several weeks. Today I'm bringing you my top 10 catchers - dynasty prospect rankings for 2018 dynasty baseball leagues.

Catchers are often a challenging position to find star prospects. It seems the best hitters are the worst defensively and the best defenders are the worst hitters behind the dish. But sometimes dynasty owners get lucky and stumble upon the perfect catching prospect who can hit well and defend well enough to avoid the shift out to another position.

So without any further ado, here is the first dynasty positional prospect rankings.

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Top 10 Catcher Prospects for 2017 Dynasty Baseball Leagues

1. Francisco Mejia (CLE, MLB)
Stats: (from AA) 383 PA, .297/.346/.490, 14 HR, 7 SB, 6.3% BB%, 13.8% K%
ETA: 2018
Putting Mejia as the top name on the list was an easy decision. The 22-year-old backstop has one of the highest regarded bats in the nation and is considered one of the purest hitters in the minors, let alone at his position. Evaluators consistently give him a 60-plus grade with the bat, and last season his 14 homers in 92 games showed the switch-hitter could be starting to tap into some of his raw power. Defensively he still has some work left to do, and he played some third base last season. But the Cleveland Indians still view their top prospect as a catcher long-term. And with just Roberto Perez and Yan Gomes standing in his way, Mejia could be starting behind the dish early next season.

2. Carson Kelly (STL, MLB)
Stats: (from AAA) 280 PA, .283/.375/.459, 10 HR, 0 SB, 11.8% BB%, 14.3% K%
ETA: 2018
Kelly is another pure-hitter, much like Mejia, but he does not have the same path to playing time in 2018. As long as Yadier Molina is with the St. Louis Cardinals, Kelly will have to look towards more of a backup role. However, he could slowly start to force the Cardinals to make something happen with Kelly. Last season, he showed that he makes enough solid, loud contact to be a starter at the big-league level while also blasting 10 homers in just 68 games in the minors. The power has long been said to be budding in his bat and it finally started to emerge in 2017. Molina is starting to climb in age, and could benefit from some more rest days. Kelly is a potent enough hitter behind the dish that even if he starts in just 35 percent of games in 2018, he would have value in dynasty leagues.

3. Zack Collins (CWS, AA)
Stats: (from A+) 428 PA, .223/.365/.443, 17 HR, 17.8% BB%, 27.7% K%
ETA: 2018
Remember when I said the great hitting catchers can’t play defense? Collins fits that mold. Collins’ bat is incredibly potent and very highly regarded. Scouts believe in his prime he will be able to hit 20-plus home runs and could post .260-plus batting averages with even higher OBPs due to his patience at the plate. However, his defense could prevent him from sticking behind the dish. If he has to slide over to first base, there is no doubt his value will be severely damaged. His bat can still profile solid over there at least reasonably well, however. The Chicago White Sox don’t have many other catchers in the pipeline, so they have plenty of incentive to keep him back there as long as possible. But he is certainly a risk to move out from behind the plate.

4. Jorge Alfaro (PHI, MLB)
Stats: 114 PA, .318/.360/.514, 5 HR, 0 SB, 2.6% BB%, 28.9% K%
ETA: 2018
Perhaps no one’s fantasy value was damaged more than Alfaro by the 2017 season. Alfaro struggled mightily at Triple-A, demonstrating poor plate discipline and little to no power output. But when he arrived in the majors, he put together a solid 29-game stretch, batting .318 with five home runs. Alfaro’s profile is incredibly similar to Gary Sanchez in that both were power-first catchers with incredible arms and questionable receiving skills. Sanchez too was a guy who many questioned for a while if he would ever turn into a big-league catcher before he reached the majors and started lighting it up. While Alfaro is unlikely to reach the lofty ceiling Sanchez has started to climb towards, it is still too early to give up on Alfaro lest he makes another comeback like Sanchez made. He is still only 24 years old, and still has plenty of upside. But patience in Alfaro is likely starting to wear thin among owners. The 2018 campaign will probably be the most telling season for his value.

5. Chance Sisco (BAL, AAA)
Stats: (from AAA) 388 PA, .267/.340/.395, 7 HR, 2 SB, 8.2% BB%, 25.5% K%
ETA: 2018
Sisco is like a poor man’s Mejia. The left-handed swinging backstop has questionable receiving skills behind the dish, but his 60-grade hit tool and potential raw power upside makes him an intriguing bat in dynasty leagues. He started most of last season at Triple-A before briefly shining in the majors, and there’s a chance he opens 2018 as the starting catcher for Baltimore. The defense behind the plate is the only concern in his game, but scouts believe he has what it takes to at least become average back there. He is far from the most exciting catching prospect in the game, but he will stick behind the plate and post a respectable batting average with slightly below-average power numbers. That has value in dynasty leagues.

6. Keibert Ruiz (LAD, A+)
Stats: 160 PA, .315/.344/.497, 6 HR, 0 SB, 4.4% BB%, 14.4% K%
ETA: 2020
Catchers generally take the longest to develop, but that has not been the case for Ruiz. The 19-year-old catcher flew began the season as an 18-year-old at Class-A and finished the season at Advanced Class-A. Ruiz is a switch-hitter with plenty of raw power from both sides and the ability to make consistent, solid contact. Scouts have praised his bat overall and think he has a chance to be a well above-average batter in the majors. His defense stands out as above-average already, although his arm leaves a little bit left to be desired. Ruiz has some of the most upside of any catcher on this list and could start to rise fast in the next year-and-a-half.

7. Victor Caratini (CHC, MLB)
Stats: (from AAA) 326 PA, .342/.393/.558, 10 HR, 1 SB, 8.3% BB%, 14.7% K%
ETA: 2018
If a player hits enough, he will eventually get noticed. Such was the case for Caratini who hit well in Double-A in 2016, but really turned it up to a new level in 2017 at Triple-A. The numbers he posted put him into the conversation of best hitting catchers in the minors and prompted a promotion to the majors. His power is slightly below-average, but he makes plenty of contact and does not swing and miss much. Caratini’s defense leaves a lot to be desired, but the biggest concern is playing time where he is unlikely to steal the starting gig from Willson Contreras any time soon. He could enter 2018 as Contreras’ backup though, and could eventually be a starter if traded by the Chicago Cubs at any point.

8. Sean Murphy (OAK, AA)
Stats: 217 PA, .209/.288/.309, 4 HR, 0 SB, 9.7% BB%, 15.7% K%
ETA: 2019
Murphy was a defense-first catcher who started to hit in 2017. He has an absolute cannon of an arm and receives behind the dish well, leaving no room for concerns about his ability to stick behind the plate. But what stood out most about his 2017 season was the increased power where he blasted 13 home runs between High- and Double-A. He kept the walk rates moderately high and made enough contact to post very low strikeout rates at both levels. The batting average at Double-A took a bit of a dip from the .297 number he posted in High-A, but he has the tools to get that up moving forward. Murphy still has offensive progress left to be made before he is ready to be a true budding fantasy impact player, but his stock is progressively on the rise. It could be a good time to buy-low.

9. Tyler Stephenson (CIN, A)
Stats: 348 PA, .278/.374/.414, 6 HR, 2 SB, 12.6% BB%, 16.7% K%
ETA: 2020
The biggest catcher to crack this list, Stephenson’s only questions stem from his ability to stick behind the plate. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound backstop is large for a catcher and thus has a lot to work on in terms of his receiving skills, but the other raw tools all jump out. He has a potentially explosive bat that could make him a 15-20 homer bat with the ability to post high on-base percentages. He also has a strong arm that could help him stick behind the plate. Stephenson is filled with upside, and if he can stay healthy for a whole season and continue to make some progressive improvements, his bat should give him plenty of fantasy value.

10. Jake Rogers (DET, A+)
Stats: 367 PA, .265/.357/.457, 12 HR, 13 SB, 12.0% BB%, 19.6% K%
ETA: 2020
Rogers is another prospect who made a name for himself with a strong 2017 campaign. He shined in the Houston Astros’ High-A Buies Creek before being traded to the Detroit Tigers in the Justin Verlander trade as he had hit 12 homers with a .814 OPS in 83 games. He is a strong defender behind the plate, one of the best to make this list, and the only question is really just how much he will hit. His bat and power did not receive favorable grades from evaluators, but the raw potential is there for him to become a better hitter as he demonstrated at Buies Creek. He will stick at the position and has the potential to become a starter. His bat will determine if he is a must-own starter in fantasy leagues or just another glove-first player with limited value.

 

More 2018 Dynasty Baseball Strategy





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