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Top 10 Catcher Prospects - 2019 Redraft Rankings

Catching as a position has gotten the brunt of fantasy angst over the past few seasons, with wRC+ rates well below league average. And yet, this is precisely the reason that owners should be looking to add the young talent that will be taking these spots in the Majors sooner rather than later. Owning talent at the spot will save owners from being forced to reach in drafts for catchers, or, on the other hand, stop them from having to scan the waiver wire to get anything out of the position.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to catching prospects in the fantasy world. The first is to ignore, or at least target other spots first. The main piece here is that catching prospects take a while to get to the Show, are more likely to move off the spot if they have a bat, and even with a bat, might not show the glove to stay in a starting role. The second option is to push these to the top of lists and own risky prospects with upside for the long haul. This writer tends to opt for the latter, with the observation that there are no “safe” prospects, meaning that value should be the primary target.

Owners can make their own decisions, but the Rotoballer team will offer the best chance to know who is out there before other owners can snipe them. This article identifies the top ten prospects ready to make an impact in 2019 at the position, and with a bit of research in league rules, there is someone on this list to fit every team’s need.

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Top Catcher Prospects for 2019

This list below is geared towards 2019 redraft leagues, and looks at the top MLB prospects and rookies who have the best chance to rise to the major leagues at some point in 2019 and provide fantasy baseball value this season.

To be clear, this is not our list of the top overall prospects in baseball. You can find those longer-term rankings in our dynasty prospects rankings and articles section, which take a look at the top prospects at each position regardless of their age or expected ETA in the majors.

 

1. Andrew Knizner (C, STL)

ETA: Mid-season 2019

It seems like this writer is the highest on Knizner at Rotoballer, and perhaps, at other fantasy sites as well. There is so much to love about the hit tool, and with the improving defense, little to no risk that he moves out from behind the plate. That alone makes him a plus when looking at the other offensive options on the list. Knizner has the highest floor on the list, but might not have much upside with what seems to be a solid, but not elite hit tool.

And yet, he has never hit below .300 in the minors, with a sub-14% K rate as well. The power is the other question, but when it seems that most prospects add a few homers when they get the call, the bat looks to have 12-plus in there over a full season. This sounds a lot like Jansen’s projections, and issues (see write-up below), but just looking to the hit tool, take Knizner’s all day. St. Louis is a solid landing spot for a catcher, as he has time to adjust behind a team legend for at least two seasons. If fantasy owners limit their expectations at first, Knizner will be the safe catching option in a few seasons. Despite all that, Knizner will end the year as the top fantasy catcher debuting this year, even with bigger names behind him on the list.

 

2. Francisco Mejia (C, SD)

ETA: Already Debuted

As mentioned in our rising catching piece, Mejia has seen his stock drop more than others on this list. Part of this is due to others passing him as opposed to a decline in the skills. Still rated by most as one of the top offensive catching prospects, Mejia's defense is the red flag. This keeps him from the top of the list even if the batting tool meets the projected grades. In a small sample size of only 32 games in the majors, with both the Padres and Indians, Mejia managed only a .168 batting average and struck out 26% of the time.

Even with better batting lines in the minors, he does not walk, with a career-high 8.5% walk rate at A-Ball. This is one of those times when the 60-grade hit tool does not seem to correlate with his approach at the plate. The aggressive swing will need to adjust in order to have an extended run at the majors.This will likely come at the expense of the approach that brought him success in the minors. Mejia might prove me wrong, but right now, that is a risk that fantasy owners should be willing to take.

 

3. Keibert Ruiz (C, LAD)

ETA: Late 2019

If this was a dynasty or non-2019 list, Ruiz would be at the top of this list by a country mile due to his age and overall skill profile. At 19, he is still very young for a catching prospect. The fact that he might be wearing Dodger blue sometime in 2019 demonstrates how advanced his advanced skills. With a 60 FV grade on the glove from Fangraphs, the defensive profile is top of the line as well, meaning that when he is ready, Ruiz should be the starting backstop on one of the best teams in the league.

On his own, the production still puts him at the top of the list, with a .268/.368/.401 slash in 101 games at Double-A with 12 homers and 44 runs. Again, the stats are even more impressive considering he is doing this at 19 years of age. There are some concerns about the power projection, but when he cut his K rate in half and doubled the power output, this writer is willing to get on all of that coming around — no reason, at this point, to look anywhere else to top the list. One final note, even though Ruiz is a longshot to make an extended run with the Dodgers this year, if he does get the call, there is no catcher on this list who can match his impact potential.

 

4. Danny Jansen (C, TOR)

ETA: Opening Day

In all fairness, Jansen has been lower on all my lists than most others in the industry. The main reason for this is regarding his ceiling. Jansen is a batting average plus at the catching position, but does not offer all that much in terms of power. While he did hit 12 homers in 88 games last year at Triple-A, this is by far and away the outlier when looking to his offensive production in the minors. If Jansen cannot produce for power in the Majors, then it is hard to see him as a top fantasy asset, even with the starting gig.

And yet, the batting line is close to .300 for his career in the minors, and even the .247 in 33 games with Toronto last year is not bad for a first look. The other reason he is a bit lower here has been the batting profile with an above 50% pull mark over his professional career to date. Still, the batting approach looks like it will play, and he offers good value in OBP leagues with an above-nine-percent walk rate for his career. Jansen is a solid option, but the power is needed to make him an impact fantasy option.

 

5. Sean Murphy (C, OAK)

ETA: Mid-season 2019

Appearing near the bottom of the list, Murphy offers the type of catcher that organizations like, but that might not excite fantasy owners. After struggling to a .208 batting average at Double-A in 2017, Murphy repeated the stop last year and improved to a .288/.358/.498 slash with eight homers in 68 games. Set to start the year at Triple-A, it will be intriguing to see what type of offensive profile he can bring to the table. The glove grades out as average at best, with a cannon that rivals many top catchers.

Murphy seems to have the floor as a back-up, and with some offense, could find his way into the Athletics as a solid catcher one. If he can hit for power, he has a fantasy impact, if not then this is a bench option for most teams. The other piece limiting the projections on Murphy to date has been the injuries. He has missed time due to surgery, so while there is less wear and tear on the body, there is also less development time than expected for his age — an exciting prospect, but a lower fantasy ceiling that others ranked above.

 

6. Willians Astudillo (C/UT, MIN)

ETA: Opening Day, or Mid-season 2019

Question marks abound with Astudillo, and his 278 ADP will either be a massive reach or an extreme value in fantasy drafts this year. Not expected to play all that much with the Twins’ current catching options, there is a chance that he makes the team in a utility role, playing everywhere from third to center field. And yet, if he does get a run of games, this is the option on the list with legitimate breakout potential. In his 30-game debut with the Twins last year, Astudillo slashed .355/.371/.516 with three homers, which is aiding the hype this offseason.

The exciting piece of the stat line was the low walk and K rates, with both being under five, and this is consistent with his minor league numbers as well. With a 56.2% swing rate, Astudillo will need to keep the 91.7% contact rate intact to produce what he did last year. Even more, Astudillo made contact on 85.7% of his swings outside the zone, again boosting the elite batting line he produced. A boom or bust prospect, Astudillo could win leagues if he is real, but if not, he might still be worth the draft slot with a comfortable cut if needed.

 

7. Austin Wynns (C, BAL)

Debut: Opening Day

By all accounts, Wynns enters spring training with a legitimate shot to start the year as Baltimore’s primary backstop. A solid, but not spectacular, prospect during his time in the minors, the carrying skill was his batting average. Most seasons he ranged between .250 and .300, meaning that if he can hit a bit, Wynns should offer a productive bat in batting average leagues.

Even more, he appears to have excellent plate skills with consistent double-digit walk rates, and 0.6 BB:K rate on average. Wynns’ best year for power was in 2017 at Double-A when he hit 10 home runs in 104 games. Camden will help with this aspect, meaning that there might be a floor for eight or more bombs if he gets a starting or semi-regular role with the club. Wynns is a great target in two-catcher leagues as a player who will not hurt a team’s overall line and might walk into a productive role based on the park and match-ups.

 

8. Eric Haase (C, CLE)

ETA: July 2019

Before the addition of Kevin Plewecki, Haase looked to be the favorite to secure a reserve role to Roberto Perez in Cleveland to start 2019. Now it seems that he will begin the year at Triple-A Columbus, repeating that stop for the third time. The carrying tool is the raw power, with a 70 grade from Fangraphs, and backed up by 20 homers in 120 games last year in the minors. The 30% K rate and .236 batting average show the other side of the profile as well, but, with a good team context, and some chance for game time, Haase will score runs, even with the plate approach.

Double-digit walk rates and a 34.3% ground ball rate add even more context to the batting profile and supporting the thesis that he can hit for power when he hits. If he can keep the ball off the ground, he offers more power upside than any other option on this list. A target for a bench spot, and when Perez collapses at the plate eventually, be ready to balance the batting line to get full value from the C2 spot.

 

9. Grayson Greiner (C, DET)

ETA: Opening Day

Greiner is slated to start the year behind the dish for Detroit, with only John Hicks to push him for playing time. Greiner did appear in 30 games for the Tigers last year and produced a .219/.328/.281 slash line, chipping in 9 runs and 12 RBI. Before the call, at Triple-A, he looked much better with a .266 batting average and four homers in 46 games.

The Detroit offense will not be a top-15 squad, but with games versus the Royals and White Sox, they might be an average team when all is said and done, giving Greiner some context to support his skills. He did flash some power at Double-A with 14 homers in 98 games, so the small sample from last year might be hiding some of that upside as well. Greiner is in the same camp as Wynns, with a C2 appeal, but also looks to be an excellent late-round dart for a reserve in draft-and-hold formats. Not sexy, but neither is the position as a whole.

 

10. Zack Collins (C, CWS)

ETA: late 2019

Blocked right now with the White Sox, Collins is known as one the better catching prospects in a shallow system and has the glove to play right now. Fifteen homers in 122 games last year at Double-A underscore the potential source of value that he offers, but a 30% K rate diminishes the ability to translate to the Bigs right now. Five steals last year seems like an illusion, with a 20-grade speed, but this does not mean that picking spots is not also a skill that Collins offers with good baseball IQ grades from scouts.

He does walk at a 20% clip, showing some supportive skills at the plate, but at the end of the day, this looks like a solid backup when he gets a real chance with the club. Still, for fantasy purposes, there are worse options, and Collins should at least be a backup when he gets the call. If he can chip in the homers, there is value to be had here.

More Fantasy Baseball Prospects Analysis




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Welcome to Week 5 of the fantasy football season. This article series takes the recent snap and touch history of skill players into account, and now that we have three weeks in the books there is a bit more of a sample to work with. Week 4 saw a litter of players across the league... Read More


Jonathan Taylor - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News, DFS Lineup Picks

Fantasy Football Running Back Trade Targets - Buy/Sell for Week 5

In this article, we'll take a look specifically at running backs you should be buying and selling ahead of Week 5. Here at RotoBaller, we also have a recurring trade targets article for all positions that can be found here. We'll dissect the running back landscape by looking at opportunity share. That can help us... Read More


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Finding Tight End Breakouts for Fantasy Football – Cracking the Code for Week 5

Holy T.J. Hockenson! With Amon-Ra St. Brown, D.J. Chark, and D'Andre Swift all out of the lineup, Hockenson was given 12 targets from quarterback, Jared Goff. He turned those targets into 8 receptions, 179 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Opportunity and volume continue to be king for this position. It's not something most tight ends are... Read More


Mike Evans - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

Rest of Season Half-PPR Rankings: Fantasy Football Top 200 for Week 5

Four weeks of the 2022 NFL season are down, the fantasy baseball has wrapped up, and autumn is in the air as we proceed with some Rest-of-Season ranks! We aim to assess players moving forward as if we drafted today to help orient you to build winners through waivers or trades, so today we present... Read More


Tee Higgins - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

Wide Receiver Snap Counts and Target Trends - Risers and Fallers for Week 5 (2022)

You are already aware that wide receivers will play a critical role in the success of your teams. The undeniable volatility that exists with the running back position has also presented an increasing rationale for prioritizing wide receivers when you build your rosters - both at the onset of your drafts and as you manage... Read More


Melvin Gordon - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

Timeshare or Position Battle? Breaking Down Running Back Committees: Fantasy Football 2022

As the season rolls along, we're starting to get a better idea of how some running back committees have gone. Some of those committees have turned out to not be committees. James Robinson has dominated the Jaguars backfield and left Travis Etienne with a minimal role, for example. And some have been even more committee... Read More


Stefon Diggs - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News, DFS Lineup Picks

WR/CB Matchups to Target and Downgrade - Week 5

Welcome to Week 5 of the WR/CB Matchup chart. As the year goes on, the PPGA metric will become more and more predictive. Results from a small sample usually tell more about how talented a CB's opponents have been rather than the difficulty of the matchup going forward. It is not advised to use this... Read More


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Fantasy Basketball Breakouts, Busts, And Locks - Charlotte Hornets 2022 Outlook

Welcome to a new series that we are debuting here at RotoBaller in order to start getting you ready for the 2022-2023 fantasy basketball season! If you play fantasy football, you'll probably recognize the format here as we had a series of preseason NFL articles that followed the same outline. The idea here is to... Read More


Five Teams To Target In 2022-2023 Fantasy Basketball

A lot of content focuses exclusively on which players you should draft (or not draft) and when. But what about specific teams? Should we target certain teams more heavily than others? While you don't have to stack up players from one team onto your teams (and in fact, it's probably a bad idea to put... Read More


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Fantasy Basketball Risers, Rookies and Draft Sleepers (Central Division) - Khris Middleton, Myles Turner, DeMar DeRozan, Donovan Mitchell, Jaden Ivey

The regular season is inching closer by the day, and most offseason moves have already been completed – barring a surprising Russell Westbrook trade, or the pending Jae Crowder deal when/if Phoenix finds a proper partner before tip-off day. Each team's depth chart is mostly complete, so it makes sense to start analyzing how it... Read More


Daily NBA Injury Roundup for October 6th, 2022

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily NBA injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy basketball (DFS) lineups, every day of the NBA season. Below is our updated list of injured NBA players for October 6th, 2022. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Fantasy Basketball Breakouts, Busts, And Locks - Sacramento Kings 2022 Outlook

Hey there, NBA fans, I hope you are enjoying the new series that we have been debuting here at RotoBaller in order to start getting you ready for the 2022-2023 fantasy basketball season! If you play fantasy football, you'll probably recognize the format here as we had a series of preseason NFL articles that followed... Read More


Fantasy Basketball Risers, Rookies and Draft Sleepers (Northwest Division) - Collin Sexton, Josh Giddey, Anfernee Simons, Mike Muscala

The regular season is inching closer by the day, and most offseason moves have already been completed – barring a surprising Russell Westbrook trade, or the pending Jae Crowder deal when/if Phoenix finds a proper partner before tip-off day. Each team's depth chart is mostly complete, so it makes sense to start analyzing how it... Read More


Daily NBA Injury Roundup for October 5th, 2022

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily NBA injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy basketball (DFS) lineups, every day of the NBA season. Below is our updated list of injured NBA players for October 5th, 2022. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Fantasy Basketball Risers, Rookies and Draft Sleepers (Southeast Division) - LaMelo Ball, Dejounte Murray, Paolo Banchero, Kristaps Porzingis, Bam Adebayo

The regular season is inching closer by the day, and most offseason moves have already been completed – barring a surprising Russell Westbrook trade, or the pending Jae Crowder deal when/if Phoenix finds a proper partner before tip-off day. Each team's depth chart is mostly complete, so it makes sense to start analyzing how it... Read More


Daily NBA Injury Roundup for October 4th, 2022

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily NBA injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy basketball (DFS) lineups, every day of the NBA season. Below is our updated list of injured NBA players for October 4th, 2022. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


DraftKings Daily Fantasy Basketball Picks (10/3/22): Preseason NBA DFS Lineups

NBA DFS is back! Yes, we still have two weeks until the season officially tips off, but that doesn't mean we can't get ahead of the field by playing some NBA Preseason DFS! Is it risky? Absolutely! Can it be fun and possibly lucrative? Also, yes! Preseason rotations are never easy to figure out and... Read More


Third-Year Fantasy Basketball Breakouts: The Time Is Now

Not every player can set the world on fire as a rookie. Or as a second-year player. Sometimes, young players take time to develop. A lot of star players take a leap in year three, but there are also players who aren't stars but become solid role players in that third season. Anthony Edwards is... Read More


Thunder Dan's 2022-23 Fantasy Basketball Rankings and Draft Analysis

I am quite possibly more excited for this NBA season than I have been for any previous season since I was a kid. I grew up watching the golden age of the NBA in the '80s and '90s and have been an NBA fan ever since. But this season is hopefully going to be like... Read More