- Buster Posey (SF)
- Jonathan Lucroy (MIL)
- Evan Gattis (ATL)
- Yan Gomes (CLE)
- Yadier Molina (STL)
- Devin Mesoraco (CIN)
- Salvador Perez (KC)
- Wilin Rosario (COL)
- Brian McCann (NYY)
- Miguel Montero (CHC)
- Russell Martin (TOR)
- Mike Zunino (SEA)
- Yasmani Grandal (LAD)
- Matt Weiters (BAL)
- Wilson Ramos (WAS)
Falling off the list from last year are Carlos Santana and Joe Mauer, who are no longer C eligible. Posey and Lucroy make up a tier 1A and 1B while Gattis through Perez are solid tier twos. Perez caught a record number of games last season and we really saw the hit to this 2nd half numbers and playoff performance. Ned Yost has already said he plans to get Perez more rest in 2015 but with Ned’s history I’d take a cautious wait and see approach here. Francisco Pena really had a solid season at AAA with 27 home runs in a breakout season and his emergence could eat into Perez’s playing time some. If Ned holds true the time off could be a boon to Perez’s value and we could see him break off 20 homers and keep a respectable .260 or better average. Another option too is to see Perez catch less and DH more. This would be ideal from a fantasy angle as it could increase Perez’s production and give Pena value in deeper leagues or two catcher leagues.
I really gave the bump here to Gattis who looks to be on the move as a DH/OF somewhere and may spell enough games at C to retain 2016 eligibility. Getting more at-bats and less wear and tear from behind the plate can presumably only help his counting stats, although there is the possibility that more at-bats won’t translate and just convert to more strikeouts, however I’d be willing to risk it on more production. Atlanta appears to be shopping Gattis for a starting pitcher. Reports of late are that they have asked KC for Yordano Ventura. If that is the asking price there may be a good chance Gattis stays put in Atlanta in his current role, which probably suppresses his value a fair amount.
I might be too low on Mescoraco. He really put things together last year and for all of his production he did it in only 114 games. Imagine pairing him with Zunino. You could end up with 35 homers from your catcher position. Nothing about Mesoraco’s performance last year screams fluke to me. He had a slightly elevated BABIP, at .309, but not high enough to be concerned about regression. He walked at a 9% clip which is in range with his norm and with a 23% k rate showing 6% higher than his 2013 campaign, it’s easy to be optimistic that this number will regress or more likely not get worse. Ideally, I’d like to see him playing 125-130 games a year, but even at 114 games you’re getting solid production that you can match up with a low cost upside play for a back up C.
Once you get past the top 9 or so, I like Zunino and Grandal as upside plays. Zunino showed streaky average at times last year but ultimately fell to .199 on the season. He still has time to grow and 20 HR power from any catcher is worth taking a flier on. With a .248 BABIP look for his numbers to improve marginally and for his average to climb up into the .220s at least, which for a power-hitting C, you can probably live with. In a dynasty or long term keeper league, I like Zunino in the 3-5 range.
For Matt Weiters, a return from Tommy John Surgery is a little scary. We hardly ever see it from position players. I really want to see how he is swinging a bat in the spring. Caleb Joseph might be an interesting late round flier, even if Weiters is back by opening day we can probably count on him seeing a reduced workload so as not to overuse his arm.
Prospect Watch – As a long term play, or if you’re in a dynasty league that stocks up on minor leaguers, a guy I have on my watch list is Jorge Alfaro (TEX). He has shown good power at the lower levels and figures to split this season at AA – AAA with an outside shot at the bigs in 2015. More realistically, I’d like to think the is a 2016 guy.
Next time I’ll go over 1B rankings, so watch for that.
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