Fantasy baseball prospects – Eight catcher situations to watch

Fantasy baseball prospects – Eight catcher situations to watch post thumbnail image

Catcher Sean Murphy hits third or fourth in the Oakland Athletics lineup on a daily basis and for good reason. Murphy, 27, is arguably the top run producer for the rebuilding club, leading them in home runs, doubles, RBI and runs scored. He is not having an awesome offensive season when compared to others (.714 OPS), but in this downtrodden lineup that is arguably the worst in the sport, he is really important. Murphy is the No. 3 catcher on the ESPN Player Rater, behind only J.T. Realmuto and Daulton Varsho.

Promoting prospect Shea Langeliers from the Triple-A Las Vegas Aviators would surely help the team’s offense, but he is also a catcher. Yeah, there is the designated hitter, but would Oakland really promote Langeliers when Murphy is such an indispensable player? Why not? Langeliers, who came from the Atlanta Braves organization along with OF Cristian Pache in the March trade for Matt Olson, is hitting .308 with a league-leading 11 home runs and a 1.062 OPS. He sure looks ready for the majors.

Fantasy managers sure could use another decent catcher to rely on, even in the ESPN standard leagues in which we need only one of them. Francisco Mejia and Ryan Jeffers are currently fighting it out for the No. 10 spot at the position on the Rater, each barely among the top 150 hitters on the Rater. We need more production! Langeliers, who hit 22 home runs over two Atlanta minor league stops a season ago, is also a strong defender behind the plate.

The Athletics could always trade Murphy as they have jettisoned so many other valuable players, but Murphy’s contract is rather affordable, even for them. Similarly, there seems little gain financially to keeping Langeliers in the minors. The Athletics have room at DH for both Langeliers and Murphy and may soon play them both, much like the current Kansas City Royals are doing with veteran slugger Salvador Perez and prospect MJ Melendez, so be prepared, fantasy managers. Oakland may end up last in the majors in offense, but with a pair of top-10 fantasy catchers!

While I generally avoid recommending catchers in fantasy for immediate and long-term value, mostly because the position is so demanding defensively that it costs individuals playing time and offense, here is an update on some others to watch.

  • Melendez and Perez have split time behind the plate and at DH since the former’s promotion a week ago, and this may last a while even when former backup Cam Gallagher recovers from a hamstring injury. The Royals currently employ a third catcher in Sebastian Rivero. The lefty-hitting Melendez led the minor leagues with 41 home runs last season and he played a few games in right field at Triple-A Omaha last month, so I think he’s sticking around and may certainly offer top-10 fantasy value at the position. Remember, it is not such a high bar.

  • Then there’s San Francisco Giants rookie catcher Joey Bart, hitting .167 and striking out 46.6% of the time. That is not good. Bart was never supposed to be the next Buster Posey, but he may have to go back to Triple-A soon if he continues to struggle offensively. Bart is drawing walks but is having major problems making contact. Hitting in the majors is not easy.

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Braves prospect Michael Harris offers an intriguing set of tools for fantasy managers, and we may just see the speedy center fielder debut during the 2022 season. Video by Eric Karabell

  • Everyone should know about Baltimore Orioles future star Adley Rutschman by now, for he may offer value similar to Posey’s prime by next season. After destroying lower level minor league pitching for a week, he has been at Triple-A Norfolk for a few days, with some expectation he would need at least a month at this level. The Orioles are in no hurry, but they should want to sell tickets in the majors, too, and 37-year-old starting backstop Robinson Chirinos does not do that. Rutschman is a switch-hitter with power and plate discipline and a must-add in all leagues upon promotion, which may be prior to the All-Star break.

  • The Toronto Blue Jays should be all-in for the AL East this season and if Gabriel Moreno keeps on hitting, he will force a promotion to the majors. Moreno is hitting .319 with plate discipline for Triple-A Buffalo after hitting .373 with eight home runs in 32 games at Double-A New Hampshire last year. Danny Jansen and Alejandro Kirk are fine, but Moreno should hit better.

  • Luis Campusano hit a single in 12 at-bats for the San Diego Padres, and is 5-for-49 in stints at the big league level over the past three seasons, but his numbers at Triple-A El Paso have been terrific. It is way too premature to label Campusano a Four-A player that cannot hit big league pitching. Austin Nola and Jorge Alfaro are established big-league catchers but all it takes is one injury for Campusano to get another chance.

  • Fantasy managers may not see Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Henry Davis until 2024, but it is easy to dream about his bat. Davis was the first overall pick in the 2021 amateur draft and he just played his first game at Double-A Altoona, but his two-year minor league batting average is .336, with a 1.108 OPS. Secure Davis in dynasty formats.

  • Want a catcher who steals bases? The New York Yankees have one in Austin Wells. Sure, it’s only High-A Hudson Valley, but Wells is hitting .325 with five home runs and eight stolen bases in 22 games. He has both power and an excellent plate discipline. Wells, a first-round pick in the 2020 amateur draft, stole 16 bases in as many opportunities in 103 minor league games last season! He’s perfect for his brief career! Wells may debut in the majors in 2023 but be warned, fantasy managers, he may move off catcher by then.



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