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January 15, 2014

Get to Know

Catcher Prospects

by Ben Carsley


Ah, catching prospects. The sirens of the fantasy prospecting world. One look at those among the current crop of backstops who qualify as “fantasy relevant” will make any owner yearn for more talent and a deeper pool of names, which makes these minor leaguers even more attractive. After all, the average triple-slash line for all catchers in the majors was .245/.310/.344. How hard can it be for the next wave of catchers to top that?

The answer, of course, is very hard. The path to MLB catching stardom is fraught with more perils than the trek to any other position, and patience, above all else, is a virtue when courting young catching talent. Fast movers like Buster Posey are extreme outliers. Good overall players like Mike Zunino get overrated in fantasy circles. And offense-first names like Jesus Montero see their deficiencies ignored as we instead focus on the potential for future excellence.

When viewed as a whole, the current crop of catching prospects is short on upside but long on floor, with only a few names below qualifying as potential future stars but many qualifying as potential future starters. Keep in mind the difference between MLB and fantasy value when judging these players, and remember, too, that catchers are rarely finished projects offensively when they reach the major leagues.

With the most over-written disclaimer in history out of the way, let’s look at the names you know and a few you might not in the world of fantasy catching prospects.

NAMES FOR 2014

Travis d’Arnaud, Mets: The best fantasy catcher headed into 2014, d’Arnaud has all the tools needed to be a top-10 fantasy backstop some day but health is a serious concern at this point. “TdA” has played in just 130 games over the past two seasons combined, and while you could make the argument that his torn PCL, broken foot, and concussion were all freak injuries, such are the perils of playing behind the plate. He should be the Mets’ starter in 2014 and he has top-15 fantasy catcher upside, but he’s far from a safe pick and shouldn’t be viewed as a future stalwart. That’s the state of minor-league catcher talent right now.

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Premium Article Analyzing A-Rod's Arbi... (01/14)
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