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The Dynasty Guru’s Top 50 Dynasty Catchers, #21-50

WELCOME BACK!!! Despite a scorching hot stove (I can’t believe the player you’re thinking of did or did not sign with the team you thought they would!), January and February can be some of the darkest months of the year (figuratively and literally). But fear not, restless readers. The Dynasty Guru is here to the rescue.

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Without further ado, it’s time to continue our 2019 consensus rankings by looking our 21-50 backstops. Despite catching prospects being a terrible investment, sometimes we just can’t help ourselves, and it shows.


21) Will Smith, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age 24, Previous Rank: NR )

Smith entered 2018 with an impressive, if not underwhelming, offensive track record. The 22-year-old  then posted a 141 wRC+ across 307 Double-A plate appearances and hit 19 home runs, more than he hit in 2016 and 2017 combined. Smith struggled mightily in Triple-A, however, and he will need to rediscover the power and plate discipline he showed in Double-A if he hopes to become fantasy relevant in the near future. Austin Barnes is still around, but Yasmani Grandal’s departure to free agency at least makes the path to playing time a little more manageable. (Matt Meiselman)

22) Yan Gomes, Washington Nationals (Age 31, Previous Rank: 41 )

Gomes is coming off his most productive offensive season since 2014, and at first glance, it looks as though he simply lucked into an uncharacteristically high BABIP. It may not be a fluke though, as Gomes dramatically increased his hard contact %, and his xStats shot up across the board. Even with some regression expected, Gomes will continue to receive contextual benefits (Indians lineup, now Nationals lineup). The only concern here is playing time, as Kurt Suzuki’s presence and productivity should result in a straight platoon. It’s possible Gomes could simply play himself into more playing time, and a Suzuki injury would help that along as well. There’s definitely some upside here for this seemingly forgettable vet. (Matt Meiselman)

23) Zack Collins, Chicago White Sox (Age 24, Previous Rank: 19 )

Collins was very good for the White Sox in Double-A last year, although not good enough to earn himself a promotion. His numbers have been excellent throughout his entire minor league career, as he’s flashed plenty of power at every level. Collins should excel in OBP leagues, as he’s walked over 20% of the time across his three seasons, but strikeouts are probably always going to be a problem for his average. It’ll probably be another year at least before Collins gets Major League at-bats, with Wellington Castillo and James McCann ahead of him, but the future definitely looks bright. (Matt Meiselman)

24) Austin Barnes, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age 29, Previous Rank: 8 [Woof- Ed.])

Austin Barnes began 2018 as a well-established sleeper, but it took him until the MLB playoffs– after all but the weirdest of leagues wrapped up–to start stealing substantial amounts of playing time from Yasmani Grandal. Barnes had finished 2017 with a ridiculous 142 wRC+, but his numbers fell off a cliff in 2018 (77 wRC+). It’s unclear why his strikeout rate ballooned (16.4% in 2017 to 28.2% in 2018), and it’s a major cause for concern going forward. Barnes continued to strike out through the playoffs, so it’s also unclear why the Dodgers stuck with him. Nonetheless, Barnes will see plenty of playing time in 2019 and although 2017 might have been a mirage, he should still be better than he was last year. (Matt Meiselman)

25) Carson Kelly, Arizona Diamondbacks (Age 24, Previous Rank: 24)

Kelly is yet another catcher that was moved this offseason, and his path to at-bats is much clearer in his new home in Arizona. Kelly has had modest offensive success throughout the minors, but his MLB track record to-date is extremely underwhelming (15 wRC+ in 131 plate appearances since 2016). He’ll likely begin in a platoon with Alex Avila, but his production will dictate whether he takes on more of a full-time role. A bet on Kelly is a bet on raw talent, but any sort of ceiling here comes with an extremely low floor. (Matt Meiselman)

26) Austin Hedges, San Diego Padres (Age 26, Previous Rank: 16 )

2018 Austin Hedges was very much like 2017 Austin Hedges: hitting for reasonable power while contributing almost nothing else. Aside from benefiting from a little luck, Hedges actually did slightly improve his K/BB numbers and netted himself average-ish offense overall. There’s a chance Hedges could continue to develop into a serviceable starting catcher, but we may never get the chance to find out with Francisco Mejia showing up in San Diego at least year’s trade deadline. Mejia figures to be the starter going forward, but it’s still possible Hedges could outplay him and hold onto the job for a while longer. (Matt Meiselman)

27) Tucker Barnhart, Cincinnati Reds (Age 28, Previous Rank: 23)

Barnhart has been virtually the same mediocre catcher for several years now, but a stint near the top of the Reds batting order last year netted him some temporary extra fantasy value. Barnhart is extremely context dependent, as he offers very little power (and no speed, obviously) but he has a decent fantasy floor and could be fairly productive depending where he slots into the lineup. There’s still not much reason to go out of your way to get him, but Barnhart is actually one of the safest bets for playing time and he makes for a viable option in deeper leagues. (Matt Meiselman)

28) Robinson Chirinos, Houston Astros (Age 34, Previous Rank: 20 )

Chirinos moves from Texas to a different part of Texas, and there’s some good news and some bad news about his new team. Chirinos loses some of the helpful park boost that he got from Arlington, but he’s also going to see more RBI chances in Houston hitting behind the Astros prolific top-half of the batting order. If Chirinos can keep his raw stats somewhat stable (15-18 homers in 375-400 PA) then the uptick in counting stats could put him very far ahead of this ranking. Chirinos turns 35 in June, so he’s not exactly a dynasty hold, but he could put up enough value in 2019 to be worth the investment. (Matt Meiselman)

29) Chance Sisco, Baltimore Orioles (Age 24, Previous Rank: 18 )

Sisco was a disappointment in 2018, but the prospect pedigree is still intact. He’ll be 24 to start the season, and although his current role looks somewhat murky he will have every opportunity to emerge as the Orioles starting catcher. He’ll be competing for at-bats with one or two other catchers, depending on whether Austin Wynns and Andrew Susac are actually two separate players or merely clones with two different names. Sisco’s own fantasy ceiling looks limited due to lack of power potential, but his minor league track record indicates he’ll be a productive hitter nonetheless. (Matt Meiselman)

30) Omar Narvaez, Seattle Mariners (Age 27, Previous Rank: NR)

Narvaez turned in an incredibly solid offensive season in 2018, batting .275/.366/.429 with a 122 wRC+. Narvaez is only 26, so theoretically he should be one of the best fantasy catchers on the board. The problem is that Narvaez isn’t a power hitter (especially now that he’s in Seattle) and he gets much of his offensive value from walks. Narvaez is a better suited to OBP play, but otherwise, you’re looking at a much better real-life player than fantasy player. The floor here is solid regardless of format, but the upside is limited unless you’re being disproportionately rewarded for walks. (Matt Meiselman)

31) Welington Castillo, Chicago White Sox, (Age 31, Previous Rank: 10)

There was quite a drop for Castillo, who fell 21 spots in the catcher rankings this year. An 80-game suspension for PEDs plus an inability to regain your power stroke (six homers in his first 33 games, zero upon his return) will do that. Penciled into the middle of the order, Beef will have an opportunity to bounce back. James McCann will back him up, but Zack Collins is knocking on the door. Catcher is thin, and although Castillo has fallen to 31st in our rankings, he could still provide good value for a win-now team if the power holds up. (Paul Monte)

32) M.J. Melendez, Kansas City Royals, (Age 20, Previous Rank: NR)

The knock on Melendez coming out of the 2017 draft (52nd overall) was that there was a lot of swing and miss in his game. That is still there: he struck out 30.3% of the time in the Sally League as a 19-year-old.  But one worry is out of the way: Melendez should stick at catcher. The power is good enough that even if the hit tool does not improve, he is at least a viable backup catcher. No one wants to stash a backup catcher prospect, however,  so we’ll need to keep our eyes on his 2019 season and track his progression. Melendez could see a jump similar to Keibert Ruiz, (29th in 2018 and 11th in 2019). (Paul Monte)

33) Kurt Suzuki, Washington Nationals, (Age 35, Previous Rank: 30)

Yes, he’s old. He was also a top 10 catcher in both 2017 and 2018 in standard 5×5 roto leagues. On November 19th the Nationals made Suzuki their #1 catcher, signing him to a two year, $10 million deal. On December 1st the Nationals made Suzuki their backup catcher, trading for Cleveland’s Yan Gomes (22nd on this year’s list).  Suzuki does have the better splits against right-handed pitching and put up his career high in home runs in 2017 (19 in just 81 games and 309 at-bats). The playing time situation and his age make drafting him a risk, the good news is that he will very likely be on your waiver wire. If Gomes goes down, he would be a great fill in. (Paul Monte)

34) Austin Allen, San Diego Padres, (Age 25, Previous Rank: NR)

Allen followed up his 22-homer Cal League performance in 2017 by hitting another 22 home runs in the Texas League. 15 of the 22 home runs came pre-All-Star Break, and he also spent 19 games playing first base after appearing there just once in his previous 228 career games. There are two Padres ahead of him on this list (Mejia at 5 and Hedges at 26), so unless Hedges is moved, playing time will be very tough to come by. 25 is not old for a catcher, so there is still hope, but his playing time situation does not seem to be trending the right way. (Paul Monte)

35) William Contreras, Atlanta Braves, (Age 21, Previous Rank: NR)

Cracking the top-10 prospect list for the Atlanta Braves is not easy in 2019, and Willson’s little brother has accomplished that feat. Like Melendez, Contreras has the potential to be an asset on both offense and defense which should keep Contreras on the catcher list for many years to come. A late-season promotion to High-A after a very impressive run in Rome means he is still a couple of years away from making an impact on your fantasy roster. The pedigree and the bloodlines are there, but he will need some more time to refine his game as most young catchers do. There is plenty of potential in Contreras. (Paul Monte)

36) Bo Naylor, Cleveland Indians, (Age 18, Previous Rank: NR)

The youngest of the catcher prospects on this list, Naylor has some exciting upside. The younger brother of Padres prospect Josh Naylor, Bo has a hit-before-power bat that could guide him to blossom into a top catcher, but it will be a while. Naylor held his own in his Rookie Ball debut and will begin the slow climb up the catching ladder in short-season Mahoning Valley. If he is not able to cut it defensively at catcher, he is athletic enough to slide over to third base, but he would take a large hit to his fantasy value there. (Paul Monte)

37) Miguel Amaya, Chicago Cubs, (Age 19, Previous Rank: NR)

Signing at the age of 16 for 1.25 million dollars out of Panama, Amaya has slowly climbed the ranks of the Chicago Cubs prospect lists and begins his fourth professional season this year. 2018 saw him garner the start at catcher for the World team in the MLB Futures Game. Amaya has the defensive ability to stay at catcher, but he does have the #3 catcher on our list, Willson Contreras, blocking him. It may be some time before we see him in the majors, and even longer before he gets the opportunity to make an impact, but as far as catcher prospects go, he is less risky than most. He still has time for his bat to grow and if he continues to make strides, he could become more interesting. (Paul Monte)

38) Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Texas Rangers, (Age 23, Previous Rank: NR)

Kiner-Falefa has a few things going for him heading into the 2019 season. One, he has the starters job now that Robinson Chirinos has signed with Houston. Two, he’s eligible at Catcher, Second and Third which means you can move him around (especially valuable in leagues with daily moves). Third, he led all catchers in stolen bases with seven. Add everything together, and you have a semi-interesting catcher. Not someone that you would be targeting heading into your draft, but if you miss out on some of the top guys, he’s startable in a 16 team league. (Paul Monte)

39) Tom Murphy, Colorado Rockies, (Age 27, Previous Rank: 38)

Chris Iannetta, Tony Wolters, Jonathan Lucroy, Ryan Hanigan, Dustin Garneau, and Nick Hundley. Those are the names of the players that have earned more playing time in a Rockies uniform the last three years at catcher. Iannetta and Wolters remain on the roster, and it looks like Murphy will spend his fifth straight year in Triple-A.  It’s clear we are reaching the bottom of the list: you can grasp for some hope that he would play half his games in Colorado, he has shown some power in the minors, but beyond that, there’s not much. You may need to be related to Murphy or have an incredibly deep roster to own Murphy at this point. (Paul Monte)

40) Mitch Garver, Minnesota Twins (Age 28, Previous Rank: NR)

Garver broke camp with the Twins for the first time in his career in 2018 and appeared in 102 games. As long as Jason Castro and his 8-million-dollar salary are in Minnesota, however, Garver will remain the backup. The late-season emergence of Willians Astudillo further complicates things as the Twins have signed a couple of players (CJ Cron and Nelson Cruz) who will soak up first base and DH at-bats.  When given a chance, he performed as an average catcher, finishing 17th in ESPN’s Player Rater for catchers. Not someone you would want to start in single-catcher leagues, he still has a place in two-catcher or AL-only leagues. (Paul Monte)

41) Elias Diaz, Pittsburgh Pirates, (Age: 28, Previous Rank: NR)
Welcome to the backend of the catcher rankings, where fantasy leagues are neither won nor lost. Elias Diaz, backup for Pittsburgh, headlines this melancholy-inducing group. Diaz doubled his wRC+ from 2017 (52) to 2018 (114). At this pace, he will have the best season of all time in 2019, with a 228 wRC+. Steamer projects him for a 94 wRC+, however, and a .268/.318/.396 triple slash. This would make for a useful backend catcher when Cervelli misses time. Diaz was surprisingly effective in 2018, slashing .286/.339/.452 with 10 homers in 277 plate appearances. He averaged a solid 91.6 miles per hour exit velocity on fly balls and line drives. His expected triple slash based on batted ball data supported his performance: .307/.359/.464. Nothing about his minor league track record suggests he will keep this up, but baseball sometimes surprises. (Jordan Rosenblum)

42) Blake Swihart, Boston Red Sox, (Age: 26, Previous Rank: 37)
Blake Swihart has done nothing but not hit since he was a top prospect in 2015. He now finds himself the third-string catcher in Boston, heavily featured in trade rumors. He’ll likely wear a different uniform for 2019. In 2014, Swihart crushed Double-A, and in 2015 he was above average in Triple-A. Since then, he has hit 30-40% percent below league averages in both Triple-A and the majors. The only reason he is ranked at all is because of his previous prospect pedigree. Catcher is a thin position, and one can dream on Swihart rediscovering some of his past magic—at least as much as one can dream on their high school sweetheart rediscovering his past magic. It’s been three years of consistent disappointment though. It’s looking more and more likely your Swihart peaked in high school. (Jordan Rosenblum)

43) Diego Cartaya, Los Angeles Dodgers, (Age: 16, Previous Ranks: NR)
Diego Cartaya is easily the most exciting of the catchers remaining on this list. MLB.com rated him the second-best international prospect signed in 2018; Fangraphs rated him third best. Resident prospect expert Jesse Roche ranked him the 24th best catching prospect overall, praising the 16-year-old’s defensive ability, plate discipline, and projectable power. MLB.com also highlights his plus contact skills, and Fangraphs gives a 50 future hit scouting value (20-80 scale) and a 55 future raw power scouting value. Cartaya ranks this low because he’s extremely young and without any professional track record. International amateur signings are hit-or-miss with extreme variance in outcomes. Cartaya could skyrocket up this list into the top 10 in a couple years, or he could even more easily disappear from it entirely. (Jordan Rosenblum)

44) Tyler Flowers, Atlanta Braves, (Age: 32, Previous Rank: 22)
With Kurt Suzuki off to Washington, Tyler Flowers has a clear path to major playing time, despite the Braves signing Brian McCann and his terrible 2018. Flowers brings solid plate discipline, decent power, and excellent framing skills. He slashed .227/.341/.359 in 2018, but a much stronger .281/.378/.445 in 2017. Despite the 2018 decline, his expected wOBA, based on exit velocities and launch angles, remained strong at .344 (.320 is league average). In 2017, his expected wOBA was .370; in 2016 it was .334. Flowers would rank higher if he wasn’t already 32. His skills have already begun to diminish: his average exit velocity on fly balls and line drives has decreased over three miles per hour since 2016. Nonetheless, he should make for a fine starter in two-catcher leagues for another year or two. (Jordan Rosenblum)

45) Jonathan Lucroy, Los Angeles Angels, (Age: 32, Previous Rank: 13)
Stoics tend to remind themselves every day of their impending doom. Stoics who owned Jonathan Lucroy in 2018 required no such reminder. In 2016, Lucroy was a top catcher, slashing .292/.355/.500 with 24 home runs over a full season. In 2018, he was among the worst hitters in baseball, with a Hamilton-ian 70 wRC+ and .084 isolated power. Lucroy reminds us decline sometimes comes swiftly and without warning. Humans are biased to try and find a narrative in everything, however. Lucroy is only 32 and two years removed from peak performance. His average exit velocity on fly balls and liners has only declined 1.5 miles per hour since then. He’s also got a clear path to major plate appearances on the Angels, and has maintained excellent plate discipline. He might have a few more years in him as a solid catcher two. (Jordan Rosenblum)

46) Max Stassi, Houston Astros, (Age: 27, Previous Rank: NR)
Max Stassi ranked best in 2018 in Catching Strikes Above Average, Baseball Prospectus’ rate stat for catcher framing—he sits on the framing throne. This should earn him playing time in his 2019 battle with Robinson Chirinos. Both catchers were league average-ish offensively in 2018, with Stassi slashing .226/.316/.394. Both catchers are projected in the 85-90 wRC+ range in 2019 steamer projections. Stassi’s heavenly framing ability and overall defensive ability – he ranked third in fielding runs above average – gives him an edge over Chirinos, who rates as well below average defensively based on the same metrics. Accordingly, Stassi is a sleeper for major playing time on one of the best offenses in baseball in 2019. With 400 plate appearances, he projects to hit 15 homers and bat .220, with solid counting stats—a useful contribution at the catcher position. (Jordan Rosenblum)

47) Connor Wong, Los Angeles Dodgers (Age: 22, Previous Rank: NR)
Prospecter Jesse Roche ranks Connor Wong the 15th best catching prospect, highlighting his athleticism, power, and contact issues. Wong hit 19 homers in 432 High-A plate appearances, striking out 32 percent of the time. He offers rare speed for a catcher, with six stolen bases in 2018, and a 55-speed rating from Fangraphs (20-80 scale). At 22 in High-A, he’s less advanced than most top 100 prospects at the same age. Still, there are plenty of decent 22-year-old prospects in High-A. Wong’s peak slash projection, based on Clay Davenport’s minor league translations, is .234/.310/.412. If he can continue developing steadily and keep his contact issues in check, he projects as a solid top-20 fantasy catcher when he debuts in the majors—likely sometime in 2020 or 2021. (Jordan Rosenblum)

48) Devin Mesoraco, Free Agent, (Age: 30, Previous Rank: 39)
Devin Mesoraco was a solid contributor with the Mets in 2018, posting a .222/.306/.409 triple slash with ten homers in 229 plate appearances. He has good plate discipline and power, with 10 percent walks, 18.3 percent strikeouts, and a .187 isolated power with the Mets. He also has the unique ability to consistently post a terrible batting average on balls in play, in the .230-.260 range, Voros McCracken be damned. His expected batting average on balls in play, based on launch angles and exit velocities, is similar—positive regression shouldn’t be expected. Add everything up and he projects about league average offensively, with a useful .232/.313/.414 steamer triple slash. He could approach 20 homers if he lands a starting job somewhere and snags 450 plate appearances. He is still a free agent as of press time, though. (Jordan Rosenblum)

49) Brian McCann, Atlanta Braves, (Age: 34, Previous Rank: 17)
There was a time, around seven years ago, where Brian McCann would sit atop these rankings. Instead, the Braves recently signed him to backup Tyler Flowers. He still possesses modest offensive abilities and could hit 15 homers and bat .225 if he gets playing time. He likely won’t receive much playing time though, and his skills are on eroding. His average exit velocity on fly balls and liners declined over three miles per hour last year (down to 89 mph). Unless you’re playing in a league where either “desire to win another championship” or “policing the game” are one of the fantasy categories, try to avoid using McCann too much in 2019. McCann’s contract with the Braves is only for one year, after which retirement is a possibility. If you’re starting McCann in 2020, panic. (Jordan Rosenblum)

50) Garrett Stubbs, Houston Astros, (Age: 25, Previous Rank: NR)
Here you are, dear reader, at the end of the catcher rankings. Your hard-earned reward is some words dedicated to Astros fringe-y catching prospect Garrett Stubbs. As most readers have already left, you are one of a few to receive this hidden wisdom, all but guaranteeing your continued fantasy success. Prospecter Jesse Roche ranked Stubbs the 25th best catching prospect this offseason, highlighting defensive prowess, excellent plate discipline, solid line-drive ability, and modest power. He slashed .310/.382/.455 in the PCL in 2018, with a .145 isolated power and four home runs in 340 plate appearances. His peak slash projection, based on Clay Davenport minor league translations, is .257/.334/.363. He gets on base at a solid clip and would make for a useful starting catcher if he ever secures playing time. In OBP leagues, he’d rank a fair amount higher. (Jordan Rosenblum)

The Author

Ian Hudson

Ian Hudson

Ian is an editor for The Dynasty Guru and a bowtie enthusiast. If you guessed one of those things about him you could probably guess the other.

He's also an attorney in Tampa, Florida.

Go Rays.

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