Dynasty Lookout: Catcher
Each Baseball America composes a team by team breakdown of top prospects and projected lineups a few years down the road. This year they break down the projected lineups for 2016.
For fantasy purposes, it can be useful to have this broken down by position. Today we’ll look at the catcher position.
|Baltimore Orioles||Matt Wieters|
|Boston Red Sox||Blake Swihart|
|New York Yankees||Gary Sanchez|
|Tampa Bay Rays||Mark Thomas|
|Toronto Blue Jays||Travis D’Arnaud|
|Chicago White Sox||Tyler Flowers|
|Cleveland Indians||Carlos Santana|
|Detroit Tigers||Alex Avila|
|Kansas City Royals||Salvador Perez|
|Minnesota Twins||Joe Mauer|
|Houston Astros||Jason Castro|
|Los Angeles Angels||Chris Iannetta|
|Oakland Athletics||Derek Norris|
|Seattle Mariners||Mike Zunino|
|Texas Rangers||Jorge Alfaro|
|Atlanta Braves||Brian McCann|
|Miami Marlins||J.T. Realmuto|
|New York Mets||Kevin Plawecki|
|Philladelphia Phillies||Tommy Joseph|
|Washinton Nationals||Wilson Ramos|
|Chicago Cubs||Welington Castillo|
|Cincinatti Reds||Devin Mesoraco|
|Milwaukee Brewers||Jonathan Lucroy|
|Pittsburgh Pirates||Russell Martin|
|St. Louis Cardinals||Yadier Molina|
|Arizona Diamondbacks||Miguel Montero|
|Colorado Rockies||Wilin Rosario|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||Tim Federowicz|
|San Diego Padres||Yasmani Grandal|
|San Fransisco Giants||Buster Posey|
Many of the catchers of the future are also the catchers of now, though many of the names on this list have yet to obtain any major league experience. Newcomers ranking among the mlb.com top 100 prospects are Travis d’Arnaud (#6), Mike Zunino (#23), Gary Sanchez (#36), Jorge Alfaro (#88).
Not projected to claim the starting role, but still ranking in the top 100 is Austin Hedges (#73) who is currently blocked by Yasmani Grandal in San Diego.
Also notable is that this list was composed while d’Arnaud was still a member of the Blue Jays. Presumably he would now be the projected starter for the Mets, displacing Kevin Plawecki from the list.
For dynasty purposes, we tend to focus our interest on the prospect types, and less on the MLB mainstays. I think this is a fine approach as the current MLB starters are more of a known commodity, with MLB stats readily available.
Buster Posey and Carlos Santana are two young catchers with loads of talent who contribute at a star level already. Both should see more time at 1B to rest their legs, which should allow them to see more ABs than other catchers.
Matt Wieters was perhaps the top hitting prospect entering the 2010 season. While the batting average hasn’t been what many had hoped, he has delivered in the power department. While not particularly fantasy relevant, he has also won back to back Gold Glove awards, so there is no question he remains at catcher for the long haul.
Salvador Perez is young and has been outstanding in limited major league experience. His lack of prospect pedigree means he can be had at a cheaper price than Posey or Santana.
Travis D’Arnaud will likely start at AAA, but I expect him to be a solid contributor sometime this year. Likewise, Mike Zunino looks primed to move through the minors quickly, though the Mariners surely want to give Jesus Montero one more shot to prove that he can’t be a major league catcher first. Of the two, John Sickels slightly prefers Zunino, primarly due to age.
Gary Sanchez in the Yankees system is a bit farther away, but he could be ready to help the big club as soon as 2014, as the current set of Yankee backstops doesn’t look to be a long term solution.
Yasmani Grandal of the Padres will open 2013 on a 50 game suspension for testosterone use. The former Reds top prospect has put up excellent numbers thus far, including unexpected power– especially in San Diego. However, due to his suspension and questions surrounding the effects of PEDs, his price should slip.
Devin Mesoraco was a premium prospect entering last season, but the combination of Dusty Baker’s famous affinity for veterans, and Mesoraco’s poor performance in what limited playing time he saw, he has not been a valuable fantasy asset. To that end he is a particularly good upside play that you can probably nab more cheaply than most.
Dynasty leagues can take so many formats that its difficult to discuss strategy in a generic way. However, I personally value players who offer immediate impact, or an easily projectable short path to the majors. I also think catcher is a high risk position in fantasy… the day-to-day toll of playing behind the plate is higher than other positions.
With Buster Posey, you’re going to have to pay a positional scarcity premium as well as an MVP premium. He also may have had a career year… its hard to project much upside beyond what he did in 2012.
Santana’s upside is right up there with Posey, but he should come significantly cheaper, to the point where I would consider him as a target.
After Santana, however, I think catcher is deep enough that you can wait to grab a young upside play like d’Arnaud, Zunino, or Mesoraco, and an un-sexy veteran to bridge the gap until your catcher of the future arrives.