MLB Prospect Report: Talkin' Catchers
Published: Aug 11, 2021
The catcher position has long been considered one of the shallowest in the realm of fantasy baseball to the point where most people don’t even pay attention to drafting them. It’s worse than tight ends in fantasy football for most people. However, I’m here to tell you that the position is quickly going to get better and now is the time to start stashing those fantasy impact backstops before it’s too late. Now clearly, we all know the Adley Rutschmans and Joey Barts of the world and so we won’t be focused on them but there are plenty more bats like theirs at the position.
Francisco Alvarez, NYM - At 5’10” and 233 pounds, the 19-year-old backstop is the prototypical size for a catcher. He’s already in possession of three above-average tools and a fourth one that’s plus but that is rapidly changing to four plus tools with the only exception being his run tool, which shouldn’t be surprising. He has the makings of a middle-of-the-order bat with a long-term future behind the plate and he should be up with the Mets mid-2023 at this pace.
Tyler Soderstrom, OAK - Soderstrom is the A’s top prospect and fourth-best catching prospect in the minors, based on my rankings. The 19-year-old backstop is in his first season of pro ball but already has shown well at Class-A with a .306/.390/.568 slash line, 12 homers, 49 RBI, 39 runs, and two steals in 57 games. The only questions about his game are the receiving and blocking, but that’s to be expected as a high school draftee. There is plenty of time for him to hone his craft and stick behind the plate and if that happens he has perhaps as much offensive upside as any other elite bat behind the plate.
Gabriel Moreno, TOR - Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the Blue Jays have a good prospect behind the plate in the 21-year-old Moreno. The last few years have been a stream of good young catchers in Toronto from Danny Jansen, Alejandro Kirk, and Reese McGuire coming up but Moreno might be the second-best bat of that group behind Kirk. Moreno has above-average hit and power tools posting a .308 average and 24 homers in 186 games in the minors, including a .373 mark and eight dingers in 32 Double-A games. He’s also patient at the plate with less than 90 strikeouts in those 186 games.
Austin Wells, NYY - The first round pick for the Yankees in the 2020 draft, Wells has already made it to high-A which fits with a player that won the Freshman of the year at Arizona and did well in the Cape Cod League as well. The hit and power tools are the two best skills the left-handed hitting backstop possesses with both being between above-average and plus at times. The issues for him are that the catching-specific skills like blocking, receiving, and throwing are all fringy and that could lead him to a role at first base as the hit and power tools profile well there.
Diego Cartaya, LAD - One of the key reasons the Dodgers felt comfortable with offloading Keibert Ruiz in the Scherzer-Turner trade was because Cartaya is waiting in the wings to take over the mantle of best catching prospect in the system, and another top-100 prospect for L.A. The Venezuelan backstop is, like a few guys on this list, 19 years old, and has three plus tools with a fourth additional above-average tool. The hit, arm, and field tools are all plus and the power tool is above-average and still improving. While he’s bigger than your typical catcher at 6’3” and 219 pounds, comps to Buster Posey and Salvador Perez can be made for his skills and size. Cartaya is going to be one of the fastest movers in the prospect ranks over the next year or so, so roster him now.
Ivan Herrera, STL - If there’s one thing the Cardinals have become known for its developing prospects that might be a bit under the radar and turning them into quality baseball players. Herrera is the next one in that pipeline. The 21-year-old catcher, now at Double-A has improved nearly every year he’s been in pro ball and now has four above-average tools with the pop really showing up recently. Over the last 160 games in the minors, Herrera has posted 19 homers and an average in the .250 range. With Yadier Molina’s time in the game likely coming to end much sooner rather than later, Herrera looks like his heir coming in 2022 despite Andrew Knizner being with the Cardinals.
Dillon Dingler, DET - The 2020 second-rounder for the Tigers is a converted center fielder as he made the transition after his freshman year at Ohio State. The center fielder tools in speed and arm are still present and in fact, his double-plus arm is the best skill he possesses. Dingler, 6’3” and 210 pounds, is still learning the position but the athleticism certainly helps him learn the defensive nuances of the role. The righty has very intriguing upside in both real and fantasy baseball realms as he’s one of the few catching prospects that has impact speed and can steal double-digit bags while hitting 20 homers and a decent average.
Others like Henry Davis, Keibert Ruiz, and Harry Ford and Shea Langeliers are all also in my top-200 but have been mentioned and broken down in previous Prospect Reports.