The Dynasty Guru’s Top 50 Dynasty League Catchers, Nos. 21-50
Congratulations on surviving another off-season. Now that the new year is upon us, it’s time to spend the next month traveling across the positional landscape, labeling players with numbers that correspond to their value. It’s the very definition of freedom. A ton of hard work was put into these rankings, and will continue to be put in as we bring you just an ungodly amount of information over the next month. We hope you enjoy the product we’ve created, and if you’d like to show appreciation for that work you can do so through this link, or via the donate button on in the upper right-hand corner of the homepage. All donations are truly appreciated.
As our catcher rankings continue, they start with an old face in a new place:
21) Miguel Montero, Chicago Cubs (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 12)
Even though 2014 didn’t mark a return to his best seasons it was a giant step forward for Montero after a disaster of a season in 2013. During 2014, Montero managed to rank 4th among all catchers with 72 RBI and 4th in OBP with a mark of .329. The batting average remained in the dumps at .243 but it wasn’t at Mike Zunino level so we can live with it. His RBI numbers may drop back to 2013 levels as a Cub since he is likely to bat sixth or later rather than his usual 4th or 5th spot with the Diamondbacks
22) Josmil Pinto, Minnesota Twins (Age: 25, Previous Rank: 17)
Pinto is likely just as surprised as all of his fantasy owners that he is not yet the starting catcher for the Twins. Kurt Suzuki’s BABIP fueled .288/.345/.383 slash line earned him a 2-year deal through 2016 thus preventing Pinto’s ascension. If you can, it’s still smart to hang onto Pinto because the impressive power and average combo behind the plate is still there and he can start stealing playing time from Suzuki immediately due to the expected regression.
23) Dioner Navarro, Toronto Blue Jays (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 33)
Right now Navarro is probably sitting in a dark room in a rocking chair murmuring, “I hope I get traded” over and over again while crying. Poor Navarro went out in 2014 and had the best year of his career from a fantasy standpoint and the Blue Jays turn around and sign Russell Martin. If Navarro can manage a full slate of at bats either at DH or with another team he will be great source of batting average and counting stats amongst players with catcher eligibility. Over the past three-seasons and he has a .284/.331/.429 slash line—that deserves to be noticed.
24) Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Miami Marlins (Age: 29, Previous Rank: 20)
One good year is all Saltalamacchia needed to leverage a three-year deal that the Marlins are sure to regret. After hitting 14 HR with a .273 BA in 2013 he came crashing back to earth with just 11 homers and a .220 average. Last year’s average was more indicative of what 30%+ K rates will get you but he can certainly improve his counting numbers by playing in more than the 114 games he did last season. He’s towards the bottom of the barrel when it comes to starting options at this point.
25) John Jaso, Oakland Athletics (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 34)
If Jaso can shake his concussion issues he is in great position to have the lion’s share of the starts at catcher for the A’s after Derek Norris was traded to San Diego. Jaso is very effective against RHP and has above average power for a catcher. If he can make 450 PA double-digit homers, a .265+ average and high run totals due to his career .359 OBP are very possible. If you own Jaso make sure you have insurance.
26) Gary Sanchez, New York Yankees (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 21)
Prospect analysts have been talking about Sanchez since he signed his 2.5 million dollar deal in 2009 at the age on 16. Fatigue has set in among his owners but the light at the end of the tunnel is near. After two-years in Double-A Sanchez should start off in Triple-A with a chance for a promotion in 2015. The power has not come along quite as much as was projected and Brian McCann is blocking him behind the plate so the question remains where will he play? Since the defense has been shaky I expect him to see more time at 1B and DH if he can continue to improve at the plate, he is still worth rostering in all dynasty leagues.
27) Carlos Ruiz, Philadelphia Phillies (Age: 35, Previous Rank: 25)
Affectionately known to Phillies Phans as “Chooch,” Ruiz is a past his prime player who is right at home on a roster filled with has-beens and never-weres. Aside from the .325, 16 HR campaign in 2012 Ruiz has been very average, never hitting double-digit homers or putting up impressive R/RBI numbers. Ruiz remains a good bet to hit for a solid average but with his increased age come increased risk for injury and further decline. If you have another option here go for it, in two catcher leagues you could do worse.
28) Tyler Flowers, Chicago White Sox (Age: 28, Previous Rank: NR)
Flowers season in 2014 was really a tale of two halves as he batted .218 with 5 HR in the first half and .280 with 10 HR in the second half. Unfortunately for fantasy owners the second half looks a bit fluky has it required a .386 BABIP which was inflated by his unusual success on fly balls. Flowers second half saw his FB% rise to 36.6% after sitting at 23.7% in the first half. The added power is easily explained, the average going up is not. Expect more of the same from Mr. Flowers.
29) Kevin Plawecki, New York Mets (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 45)
Over 287 games in the minors, Plawecki has compiled a slash line of .295/.372/.439 over five levels and looks very ready for the Show. He plays for the Mets so unfortunately he is blocked by the talented Travis d’Arnaud. With his great on-base skills and low K rate Plawecki is a great bet to be a high average hitter in the big leagues for a long time. He is a fantastic chip should the Mets decide to shop him.
30) Andrew Susac, San Francisco Giants (Age: 24, Previous Rank: NR)
Susac made his Giants debut last year and has the look of a player that could approach 20 home runs with a .250 average given a full slate of at bats. The situation is murky since Brandon Belt is not a free agent until 2018 and Buster Posey is the face of the franchise—perhaps the Giants make a trade. Until then he is a great backup for the Giants and an excellent dynasty stash.
31) Welington Castillo, Chicago Cubs (Age: 27, Previous Rank: 24)
It seems that Castillo has caught himself out of a job with his poor pitch framing skills which, according to statcorner.com, rank second to last amongst all catchers. Castillo’s replacements Miguel Montero and David Ross rank first and 13th overall. Castillo still possesses some power but playing time is going to be hard to come by.
32) Chris Iannetta, Los Angeles Angels (Age: 31, Previous Rank: NR)
Iannetta’s 2014 season was a useful little chestnut for anyone who owned him in deep leagues. Iannetta slashed .252/.373/.392 with decent counting stats. Not a world-beater by any stretch of the imagination but he gets a big boost in OBP formats and should have no trouble finding playing time in 2015.
33) Reese McGuire, Pittsburgh Pirates (Age: 19, Previous Rank: NR)
This guy is making it to the big leagues regardless of how he hits the ball and that’s a good thing, because so far he has not looked the part of a fantasy stud. He’s been very difficult to strikeout in the minors but that has not translated into consistently high batting average or any semblance of power.
34) Max Pentecost, Toronto Blue Jays (Age: 21, Previous Rank: NR)
The 2014 first-round pick of the Blue Jays has plenty of time to recover from his labrum surgery thanks to the recent addition of Russell Martin. Pentecost has the chance plus power, good speed for a catcher, and a fantastic arm but needs to continue to work on his defense. In limited time last season, Pentecost batted over .300 so 2015 should be a great barometer to see where he is developmentally, once he’s back on the field.
35) Kurt Suzuki, Minnesota Twins (Age: 31, Previous Rank: 34)
While Suzuki has always been difficult to strikeout his .310 BABIP will regress back to closer to his career mark of .274. Over the past three seasons combined Suzuki has only managed 14 home runs so don’t expect anything big on offense. Be smart and do not bank on a repeat from of last year.
36) Chance Sisco, Baltimore Orioles (Age: 20, Previous Rank: NR)
Sisco, a 2nd round pick (61st overall) from a CA high school in 2013, has flat out raked since joining the O’s system, putting up a .340/.406/.448 (.854 OPS) line with 5 HR in 114 games at Low A in 2014. With an athletic profile, scouts like his ability to stay at catcher and feel the power will develop. If it does, he’ll be blowing cocoa butter kisses as he rounds the bases 10-15 times per year. One of the best pure hitting catchers in the lower minors.
37) Austin Hedges, San Diego Padres (Age: 22, Previous Rank: 38)
Hedges might rank 37th overall on some prospect lists, so that tells you what you need to know about how good he is defensively. However, he did little to silence the critics about his bat in 2014, compiling a lifeless .589 OPS in 113 games in Double-A. After hitting 10 HR at Low-A in 2012, Hedges hit a combined 10 HR in his next two trips up the ladder. His glove is good enough to get him to Petco in the next couple of years, but until pitch framing becomes a category in your league, Hedges doesn’t require heavy investment.
38) Christian Bethancourt, Atlanta Braves (Age: 23, Previous Rank: 41)
The Braves plan to move Evan ‘El Oso Blanco’ Gattis to LF in 2015 and hand the starting job for the foreseeable future to ‘El O Por Cuatro.’ Bethancourt’s .741 OPS with 12 HR/11 SB in 90 games at AA in 2013 and .716 OPS with 8 HR/7 SB in 91 games at AAA in 2014 actually represented steps forward with the bat, before struggling (.248/.274/.274) in 117 PA with Atlanta. Bethancourt will have difficultly hitting for a decent average, but he may be able to reach 10-15 HR and add a few rare steals from the position, but even that is a best case scenario.
39) Christian Vazquez, Boston Red Sox (Age: 24, Previous Rank: NR)
Continuing our run on glove first Christians, Vazquez got an opportunity for playing time at the major league level in 2014 and his .240/.308/.309 line in 201 PA reflects that he didn’t exactly capitalize on it. Since posting 18 HR and an .863 OPS at Low A in 444 PA as a 20-year-old, Vazquez has struggled to rekindle his power stroke, hitting a combined 15 HR in 1097 MiLB PA since.
40) Hank Conger, Houston Astros (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 43)
The Astros dealt for Conger this offseason for his pitch framing, not for his bat, a confusing concept if you followed his ascent through the minors. A full season’s worth of at-bats has been elusive for the former first-round pick (25th overall in ’06) in his career thus far, but his career line of .224/.294/.353 hasn’t buoyed his cause and it’s hard to see where more at-bats are going to come from in Houston.
41) Peter O’Brien, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age: 24, Previous Rank: NR)
How is somebody who hit 34 HR in 2014, 24 of which came in Double-A, ranked this low? O’Brien has serious questions about his ability to make consistent contact and handle the position defensively. His sub-.300 OBP at Double-A Trenton, combined with only catching 19 games at the level (46 total) did nothing to quell those concerns. Arizona seems committed to letting him catch in 2015, most likely starting at Triple-A, but the results aren’t likely to be pretty.
42) Francisco Mejia, Cleveland Indians (Age: 19, Previous Rank: 40)
Mejia is a promising switch hitter who got his first taste of non-complex level ball in 2014. He held his own in the NYPL, mainly a college graduate age league, putting together a 119 wRC+ in 274 PA, with an 18:47 BB/K ratio. Scouts love Mejia’s ceiling, which could be all-star level production with the bat, but the ETA is likely four years away, if not more.
43) Alex Avila, Detroit Tigers (Age: 28, Previous Rank: 26)
Multiple concussions have put Avila’s career in question. When healthy, the production hasn’t been close to his ’11 season, with his OPS declining in each of the last four seasons, dwindling to .686 in 2014.
44) Max Stassi, Houston Astros (Age: 24, Previous Rank: 42)
The former Athletic farmhand struggled through an injury-riddled first taste of Triple-A in 2014, playing 101 games in the hitter friendly PCL and hitting for an ugly 72 wRC+. Stassi isn’t noted for his glove, and his bat is not likely good enough to warrant a starting job.
45) Clint Coulter, Milwaukee Brewers (Age: 21, Previous Rank: 46)
Coulter DH’d more than half of his games in 2014 and was moved to a corner outfield spot in fall instructs. He did have a nice year at Low-A Wisconsin, where he posted a .287/.410/.520 line, adding 22 HR, good for a 165 wRC+ in the tough hitting environment of the Midwest League. There seems little doubt a position change will take place, else Coulter would be ranked considerably higher.
46) Jakson Reetz, Washington Nationals (Age: 19, Previous Rank: NR)
It’s fitting that Reetz would be drafted by an organization who once misspelled their own team name on multiple jerseys in the same major league game. The 2014 third round pick (93rd overall) from a NE high school has 15+ HR potential but the standard caveats about a newly drafted high school catcher apply.
47) Rene Rivera, Tampa Bay Rays (Age: 31, Previous Rank: NR)
Rivera got his first chance at extended big league playing time in 2014, and hit 11 HR in 103 games (329 PA) for the Padres before heading to Tampa in one of the Padres 712 offseason trades. Rivera’s defensive skills should enable him to get a similar number of at-bats with the Rays, but the power is not likely to be replicated.
48) J.T. Realmuto, Miami Marlins (Age: 24, Previous Rank: NR)
The former third-round pick in 2010 was moved to catcher as a pro, slowing his development. Realmuto hit for a .830 OPS in his second go around at AA, and his athletic profile should enable him to continue to develop into an average big league catcher.
49) Justin O’Conner, Tampa Bay Rays (Age: 22, Previous Ranking: NR)
The Rays have taken a cautious approach with O’Conner, their first round pick in 2010, promoting him to AA for 21 games in 2014. He posted his second straight year of low double digit home run totals in non-hitter friendly environments, but he’s still far away from being fantasy relevant.
50) Luis Torrens, New York Yankees (Age: 18, Previous Ranking: NR)
Signed for $1.3 million out of Venezuela in July of 2012, Torrens is a converted infielder that is extremely raw behind the plate and with the bat, but he’s a name to watch over the next couple of years, as he’s already starting to appear in Yankees Top 10 prospect lists.
Commentary by Jake Devereaux and J.J. Jansons