Welcome to the 2017 edition of the Get to Know series: a weekly post that will give you a high-level overview of every dynasty prospect who matters at every position. We’ll laugh. We’ll cry. We’ll yell at me for glaring typos and accidentally listing players under their old teams. It will be great.
Players are broken down into two groups; those who I think will be relevant (aka see MLB time) in 2017, and those you should eye for 2018 and beyond. They’re not ranked per se, but are in a very rough order I’ll go back and look at before our Top 100 list comes out.
First up is catcher, which is actually not as depressing this season as it has been in years past. Enjoy!
Names for 2017
Jorge Alfaro, Phillies
We try to tell you all the time: even for prospects, catching prospects have remarkably non-linear development path. Such is the case with Alfaro, who rewarded those owners who pushed past their prospect fatigue with a very, very strong showing in 2016. The massive power is still present, as is the solid speed for a catcher, and Alfaro took modest (but meaningful) steps forward in terms of his approach last season, too. The average might not top .270 with any sort of frequency, but Alfaro can challenge for 20 homers and swipe five bases a year, all while playing enough to post solid R and RBI stats for a catcher. Add in his favorable home ballpark, and you’re looking at a potential top-10 fantasy backstop for several seasons to come. #TheLegend lives.
Tom Murphy, Rockies
Coors made Nick Hundley a top-10 catcher as recently as 2015. Nick. Hundley. Murphy faces some playing time questions and might not hit for a great average, but he’s got real pop. He’s a nice gamble in deeper leagues, let’s just hope he ends up with closer to 400 than 200 PA.
Chance Sisco, Orioles
I’ve been high on Sisco for a few years now, and nothing he did in 2016 convinced me that I should feel otherwise. We need to see a little more power, sure, but Sisco can really hit, and my bet is that he’ll end up decent enough behind the plate to at least stay fantasy-eligible there. It’s a bit of a non-traditional profile, but you could do a lot worse than a catcher who flirts with a .300 average, scores a bunch of runs and contributes at least nominally in R and RBI. That’s basically Yadier Molina from the past few years, and if your league has 12 or 14 teams someone still owns him.
Jacob Nottingham, Brewers
You might’ve seen that Nottingham didn’t make our Brewers Top 10 list and have lost all hope, but fret a little less; that’s a tough list to crack. Nottingham’s 2016 season was mighty disappointing, sure, but he was young his level, and I still believe in his power and, to a slightly lesser extent, his hit tool. The real worry for me is that Nottingham won’t stick behind the plate; those defensive reports aren’t getting any more promising.
Carson Kelly, Cardinals
I owe Mr. Kelly an apology. I marked him in We Hardly Knew Ye in last year’s installment of this list, but that proved premature. Kelly hit .292/.352/.381 in 126 PA at Triple-A last season after posting similar stats in Double-A. I don’t think I buy into the hit tool quite to that extent, but Kelly doesn’t strike out a lot and clearly has some bat-to-ball ability, albeit without much power. There’s probably not top-10 catcher upside here, but for those of you in TDGX-sized 20-team dynasty leagues, Kelly could be a starter in his best years.
Tyler Marlette, Mariners
Imagine if Nottingham had a decent offensive season but seemed even less likely to remain behind the plate? You’d get Marlette, who hit .273/.335/.472 with 14 homers in his third stint in High-A, but who comes with the defensive upside of a grass Pokemon.
Names for 2018 and Beyond
Zack Collins, White Sox
The good: Collins can really hit and really hit for power, as evidenced by his strong showing in High-A just months after being selected in the first round of the 2016 draft. The bad: Collins can’t really catch right now, and there’s plenty of swing-and-miss to his game. A best-case career path for Collins probably looks something like Mike Napoli’s, though hopefully he can stay behind the plate for a bit longer. You gotta love the bat.
Francisco Mejia, Indians
Craig [takes extremely big sip of scotch] … was right. Mejia is good. After crushing Low- and High-A as a 20-year-old last season, Mejia planted himself firmly in the discussion as one of the best fantasy backstops in the game. He can hit, he’s got more power than his size portends, and he’ll stay at the position. As I’ve mentioned before, Mejia’s path to the majors isn’t likely to be super smooth or linear, but once he gets there and is established, he’ll be a top-10 option.
Max Pentecost, Blue Jays
Pentecost was reasonably impressive when he took the field in 2016. The problem? 2016 was, for all intents and purposes, his first professional season, and even still he recorded just over 300 PA. There’s still top-15 fantasy catcher upside here, but there’s also a very real risk that Pentecost’s injuries force him off the position and sink him altogether. He’s very high risk for a real but somewhat underwhelming reward.
Tomas Nido, Mets
A pop-up prospect from 2016, Nido projects to have a solid hit tool, decent power, and enough defensive chops to stick behind the plate. He hit .320/.357/.459 in the FSL last season, turning plenty of heads. We need to see him do it again before we get too excited, but you could do stupider things with a roster spot if your league sees 200 or more prospects off the board.
Tyler Stephenson, Reds
Stephenson barely played in 2016, but it’s not his fault; a concussion and wrist injury conspired to keep him off the field and limit him when he managed to get on it. He’s still a power-first catching prospect with decent odds of sticking behind the plate, and as such, he’s still interesting for our purposes.
Brett Cumberland, Braves
Cumberland ranked at no. 38 on Bret Sayre’s list of the top-50 dynasty signees from 2016. That’s partially due to a weak class, but also due to the fact that Cumberland can really hit. We’re not sure if he can catch yet, though, which is why he’s all the way down here.
The guy to get in on early: Meibrys Viloria, Royals
Oh look, a new and exciting portion of this series for 2017! Viloria gets inaugural honors as an offensively gifted teenager who hit .376/.436/.616 in Rookie ball last season. The approach is good, the power is coming, and he seems a good bet to stick behind the plate. I like.
Others: Chris Betts, TB; Nick Ciuffo, TB; Jin-De Jhang, PIT; Abraham Gutierrez, ATL; Chris Okey, CIN; Reese McGuire, TOR; Dom Nunez, COL; Ben Rortvedt, MIN; Keibert Ruiz, LAD; Will Smith, LAD; Garrett Stubbs, HOU; Brett Sullivan, TB; Luis Torrens, SD; Jose Trevino, TEX; Chase Vallot, KC
We Hardly Knew Ye (Fantasy Value)
- Austin Rei, BOS
- Justin O’Conner, TB