Widgets Magazine

2013 Fantasy Prospect Rankings: Catcher

Written By on 25th March, 2013

These fantasy prospect rankings are for the typical 5×5 format. Players are eligible at a position if it’s more likely than not they will eligible at a position in the future.

Tier 1
Michael Zunino
Travis d’Arnaud

Zunino gets the slight nod over d’Arnaud because I’m more confident in his ability to hit for average. I also prefer him because in the American League he can DH. This should give Zunino more plate appearances than d’Arnaud and keep him fresher as the year goes on. Both are near Major League ready and should make their debuts in 2013 while being good sources of power from the catcher spot.

Tier 2
Gary Sanchez

I went back and forth about including Sanchez on his own tier. He has a special bat that could conceivably play elsewhere on the diamond, but I have concerns he could outgrow the position. His defense is far more advanced than the bats in Tier 3, which is why I left him on an island here. All that’s keeping him from Tier 1 is his distance from the Show. He’ll return to the Florida State League and if he mashes, I should catch him in Double-A Trenton.

Tier 3
Stryker Trahan
Clint Coulter
Jorge Alfaro

It’s conceivable these big bats could out hit their Tier 1 counterparts, but their considerable risks keep them several notches below.  As I discussed last week at FanGraphs, Trahan’s ability to play adequate Major League defense is a question he’ll need to answer. If he doesn’t become respectable behind the plate, its unlikely a team would risk starting him at the most important defensive position on the diamond. But, in fantasy, I would rather draft a player with above-average-starter upside who would be valueless if moved off the position than someone who is guaranteed to stick but with a limited ceiling. Not earth-shattering,  but Trahan fits that mold.

Coulter was selected just after Trahan in last year’s draft. At the time, he was considered raw but with intriguing tools, most notably was his power. But, in nearly 50 Rookie League games, Coulter tore the cover off the ball. Like Trahan, his defense is a big question mark, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Coulter and Trahan jumped into Tier 1 by this time next year.

Alfaro gets a lot of love, but as my other partner and crime Mike Newman has mentioned, Alfaro’s approach is holding him back.

Tier 4
Will Swanner
Austin Hedges

I’ve mentioned Swanner a lot lately because I really like his bat and expect him to have a monster California League campaign. While I would like to see the Rockies challenge his bat with a Double-A assignment late in the year, Swanner’s defense needs refinement so I expect a full year at Modesto. Hedges gets a lot of praise, but he isn’t a great fantasy asset. Yes, he’ll be a major league catcher. And yes, he’s the only one in Tiers 2, 3 and 4 you can say that definitively about. But, he doesn’t have the ceiling of more than an average fantasy catcher because of a limited offensive profile.

Tier 5
Rob Brantly
Blake Swihart

Brantly had an up and down minor league career before having a fantastic year in 2012 for the Miami Marlins. He’s probably a decent back-up catcher in deeper leagues as his power is limited compared to others at the position. We were very high on Swihart going into last year and he disappointed.  His offensive profile is still enticing, but he’s hardly an elite prospect right now.

JD Sussman
JD Sussman
About JD Sussman

JD is a co-founder of Bullpen Banter and muses about prospects, sabermetrics, and often intermingles law and baseball in his work. In addition to managing the site, JD is awaiting admission to the New York Bar. Additionally, he sporadically contributes a prospect column toFangraphs. Be wise and follow him on Twitter. He can be reached via e-mail at jdsussman@bullpenbanter.com.

Articles, Fantasy

11 Comments on "2013 Fantasy Prospect Rankings: Catcher"

  1. Profile Photo
    gary March 25, 2013 at 3:27 pm -

    Where does Evan Gattis fit in?

    • Profile Photo
      JD Sussman March 25, 2013 at 3:45 pm -

      Gary, consider me among the non-believers. There is a reasonable argument to place him (and others) above Swihart, but I don’t see the true talent level being very high nor do I see where Gattis gets the playing time from. It’s hard to roster someone in fantasy who isn’t playing in the MLB. Maybe I’m wrong and the Braves let McCann walk and Gattis becomes a starter in 2014, and maybe I’m wrong about his abilities too. 

  2. Profile Photo
    gary March 25, 2013 at 8:52 pm -

    the Braves seem excited about this guys and it looks like he’s gonna be on the roster for sure with McCann out in April…so he’s gonna get some playing time for sure…
    he’s 26 but its not like he was struggling in the minors all this time…he was away from baseball for 4 years…when he came back he’s hit 40 hrs in 2 seasons…he’s also having a good spring…
    but you’re the expert…i though you just overlooked him…glad that you at least considered him…

    • Profile Photo
      JD Sussman March 25, 2013 at 9:09 pm -

      Gary, I’m certainly don’t shy away from hearing other opinions. Personally, I root for every prospect to exceed my expectations and I hope I’m wrong about Gattis.

  3. Profile Photo
    gary March 25, 2013 at 9:47 pm -

    that’s baseball i guess…that’s why its fun whenever discussion prospects…its almost a crapshoot…
    you set the bar very low on Gattis…not even good enough for the 5th tier…
    all he needs is a pulse to exceed your expectations!!!
    i’m joking you know…just having some fun…

    • Profile Photo
      robbyrobdu March 25, 2013 at 11:52 pm -

      A pulse LoL…..it’s not like he ranked him outside the top 50, plenty of catchers not on this list will far exceed the careers of many of the catchers on this list. That’s the nature of development at the toughest position to play in baseball, Bethancourt was top 5 at worst on EVERY catching prospect list to start last year, he’s off many if not most top 10s this year.
      As always, love the differnt perspective offered here, thanks!