Catchers have historically been a weak position throughout baseball and particularly in fantasy baseball. Based on what is coming through the minor leagues, that could be changing. Most notably, there are catchers moving through the system with advanced hit tools. At the top of the list is Francisco Mejia. While in the end, Mejia might be an average at best defensive catcher, he can really hit with 15 to 20 future home run pop. It moves on from there with Keiburt Ruiz, Joey Bart, and Carson Kelly.
Daulton Varsho is the most intriguing of all the players on this list, particularly from a fantasy standpoint as he not only can hit but is a good runner. Imagine a catcher with 20 plus stolen bases that will get additional at-bats playing other positions.
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1. Francisco Mejia (SD)
Great natural bat-to-ball skills have always led to a high BABIP led batting average for Francisco Mejia. He does need to learn more plate patience, but a .270/.330 average with 18 to 20 home runs should be where he lands. If that happens, he’s a Top 5 catcher in the game.
2. Keibert Ruiz (LAD)
19-year-old catchers are not supposed to be that good in Double-A. Yet, Keibert Ruiz walked nearly as much as struck out and hit 14 home runs along the way. He’s not a great defender but should fill the void left by Yasmani Grandal, possible in the second half.
3. Joey Bart (SF)
As much as San Francisco fans want Joey Bart to be Buster Posey 2.0, he’s not. He’s a plus defender with power but his hit-tool is average-at-best. For the record, in his prime, Posey had a plus, if not plus-plus hit tool with power and good defense.
4. Carson Kelly (Ari)
Finally traded, Carson Kelly should have a chance to get playing time in the desert. While he’s not a plus defender, he has enough offensive weapons to project as a solid Top 15 catcher in the game.
5. Sean Murphy (Oak)
Sean Murphy’s defensive game has always been ahead of his offensive game. However, in 2018, the bat started to emerge. If it all comes together, he has Top 10 catcher potential. He’ll start the year in Triple-A with a chance to see Oakland in the second half.
6. Danny Jansen (Tor)
With the trade of Russell Martin, Danny Jansen is climbing the draft boards. While he has an advanced approach at the plate, he’s never shown a ton of power. Defensively, he lacks the arm strength to ever be a plus defender. Translation – an everyday catcher but not a star.
7. Daulton Varsho (Ari)
Daulton Varsho is in line to be the modern-day positional player – a super utility performer that just so happens to get position eligibility at catcher. That has me intrigued.
8. Ronaldo Hernandez (TB)
Ronaldo Hernandez might be a new name to many, but after a year where he showed some real pop and the ability to control the strike zone, he’s a kid that you should get to know.
9. Bo Naylor (CLE)
Bo Naylor is the younger brother Josh Naylor and while he doesn’t have the double-plus power of his brother, he’s a better athlete with a better hit tool.
10. MJ Melendez (KC)
MJ Melendez was the 2019 second-round pick of the Royals and got off to a fast start showing excellent defensive chops with some pop. He’ll need to work on his contact as he struck out over 30% of the time, but there’s a lot to like.
11. Miguel Amaya (CHC)
Miguel Amaya is not a sexy name in prospect circles, but projects to be a solid backstop with some offensive upside.
12. Will Smith (LAD)
Will Smith is a plus defender who can also play in the field. If it all comes together, he could be the Austin Barnes to Keiburt Ruiz.
13. Tyler Stephenson (Cin)
Tyler Stephenson has been making slow and steady progress through the Reds organization but his 11 home runs in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League was encouraging.
14. Andrew Knizner (Stl)
The Cardinals liked Andrew Knizner so much that they felt comfortable moving Carson Kelly in the offseason. Of course, he’s blocked by Yadier, but Yadier won’t play forever.
15. Cal Raleigh (Sea)
Cal Raleigh has improved his defense enough to stay at catcher long-term and with above-average power and a chance to hit, he’s becoming an interesting player for the Mariners. Which means, of course, they will trade him or are they acquiring players now…I forget…
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