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Prospect Positional: C

by Mike Rosenbaum
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

The rankings for catchers are broken into two parts: the top 10 prospects in order and the next 10 prospects in alphabetical order. As always, these rankings are done from a scouting perspective but with fantasy baseball in mind, generally focusing on standard 5x5 league categories – though other statistics (e.g., OBP) are considered – and long-term, dynasty-league value.


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The Top 10:


1. Jorge Alfaro, Philadelphia Phillies

2016 Level: Reading Fightin Phils (AA)


Alfaro was off to a fine start at Double-A Frisco in 2015, with a .746 OPS and 27 extra-base hits through 49 games, before his season was derailed by a dislocated ankle suffered on June 12. He still went to the Phillies at the trade deadline as part of the Cole Hamels deal, and he proved to be fully healthy this spring with an impressive showing in big league camp. Alfaro, 22, is an exciting hitter, with plus raw power to all fields and a natural feel for barreling the ball, and he even showed he could steal some bases prior to the ankle injury. He still has considerable gains to make with his approach and pitch selection -- as well as behind the plate -- but Alfaro has the highest fantasy (and real-life) ceiling of any player on this list.


Impact categories: HR, RBI

2. Willson Contreras, Chicago Cubs

2016 Level: Iowa Cubs (AAA)


Contreras, 23, came out of nowhere in 2015 to claim the Southern League batting title with a .333 average for Double-A Tennessee, and he was named Cubs’ Minor league Player of the Year after the season. He established new career highs in on-base percentage (.413), slugging (.478), hits (151), doubles (34) and RBI (75) while playing more than 100 games (126) for the first time as a professional. Signed by the Cubs as a third baseman in 2009, Contreras made the transition to catcher in 2012 and has made developmental strides at the position in each subsequent year. Though his offensive track record isn’t particularly strong, Contreras proved in last year’s Arizona Fall League, and then this spring in big league camp, that his bat is for real. He’s already off to a hot start this season at Triple-A Iowa and could be in line for a promotion in the event of an injury to either Miguel Montero or David Ross.


Impact categories: R, RBI, AVG


3. Gary Sanchez, New York Yankees

2016 Level: Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (AAA)


Sanchez finally hit his way out of the Eastern League last season to move up to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and, ultimately, the Major Leagues. He finished the year with a much-improved .200-plus ISO and 18 home runs, and then slugged seven more long balls in 22 Arizona Fall League games. Still only 23, Sanchez’s value lies in his power and middle-of-the-order potential, but even after his resurgent 2015 campaign, the Yankees were hesitant to break camp with him as the backup to Brian McCann. Sanchez will likely take on that role at some point this season, but there will need to be an injury ahead of him on the depth chart to get regular at-bats.


Impact categories: HR, RBI


4. Jacob Nottingham, Milwaukee Brewers

2016 Level: Biloxi Shuckers (AA)


Nottingham put himself on the map in 2015 with a breakthrough full-season debut that saw him post an .877 OPS with 17 home runs, 33 doubles and 82 RBI in 76 games between the Low- and High-A levels. The A’s acquired him from the Astros in July as part of the Scott Kazmir deal, only to trade him to the Brewers in the offseason Khris Davis deal. Nottingham, 21, has plus raw power to all fields that he can get to in games – as he showed this spring in big league camp with the Brewers -- though some doubt that he’ll be able to remain behind the plate long term. If he does move off the position, it won’t be anytime soon, and Nottingham has more than enough pop to profile at first base. 


Impact categories: HR, RBI


5. Chance Sisco, Baltimore Orioles

2016 Level: Bowie Baysox (AA)


Sisco was named Orioles Minor League Player of the Year in 2014, when, at age 19, he hit .340 to win the South Atlantic League batting title in his full-season debut for Low-A Delmarva. He continued his surge up the ladder last season by posting an .809 OPS in 75 games at High-A Frederick, which earned him a promotion to Double-A Bowie in mid-August. The 21-year-old Sisco is an offense-oriented catcher with advanced plate discipline and a short, line-drive swing that should allow him to hit for average at the highest level. Sisco may be physically strong, but he’ll never offer much in the way of over-the-fence power. That said, his discerning eye and consistent approach should lead to plenty of runs while giving him extra value in OBP leagues.


Impact categories: R, AVG, OBP


6. Tom Murphy: Four categories (HR, RBI)

2016 Level: Albuquerque Isotopes (AAA) – Disabled list


Murphy bounced back from an injury-shortened 2014 campaign to hit 20 home runs in 105 games between the Double- and Triple-A levels last season. The performance, along with injuries to the Rockies catchers, led to a big league callup in September, and Murphy made the most of his opportunity by hitting three home runs in 11 games. The 25-year-old backstop has posted an ISO above .200 at every full-season level in his career, and his power should carry extra valuable at Coors Field. However, his high strikeout rate – 28.6 percent in 430 Minor League plate appearances in 2015 – hurts his chances of contributing in non-power categories. Currently on the disabled list at Triple-A Albuquerque with a strained left oblique, Murphy should get another extended look with the Rockies later in the season.


Impact categories: HR, RBI


7. Tyler Stephenson, Cincinnati Reds

2016 Level: Dayton Dragons (A)


The Reds made Stephenson the first catcher to be drafted in 2015, taking the Georgia prep with the No. 8 overall pick, and he rewarded them by hitting .268/.352/.361 with 15 doubles in 54 games for Rookie-level Billings in his pro debut. A 6-foot-4, 225-pound right-hander hitter, Stephenson’s calling card is his raw power, but it may take him some time to learn to apply it to games. In general, as a recently drafted high school catcher, he’ll likely need considerable time to develop on both sides of the ball.


Impact categories: HR, RBI


8. Francisco Mejia, Cleveland Indians

2016 Level: Lake County Captains (A)


Mejia quietly put together a solid full-season debut in the Midwest League in 2015, when he hit nine home runs and reached base at a .324 clip against as a 19-year-old against advanced pitchers. Mejia, now 20, stands out for his offensive upside, with excellent bat speed and power potential from both sides of the plate. He's still raw defensively and years away from being ready for the Major Leagues, which is why he’s back at Low-A Lake County to begin 2016. But after he hit .268 in 53 games during the second half last season – after batting just .218 during the first half – Mejia appears poised to keep making strides at the plate in his second tour, with a mid-season promotion to High-A Lynchburg a strong possibility.


Impact categories: HR, OBP


9. Andrew Knapp, Philadelphia Phillies

2016 Level: Lehigh Valley IronPigs (AAA)


Knapp scuffled during the first part of 2015 at High-A Clearwater but broke out in a big way with a mid-season promotion to Double-A Reading, where he hit .360/.419/.631 with 11 home runs in 55 games and demonstrated a vastly improved approach. The 24-year-old backstop is a pure hitter, one with the ability to hit for average and some power from both sides of the plate, though he may eventually be forced into a backup role should Jorge Alfaro reach his potential.


Impact categories: R, AVG, OBP


10. Max Pentecost, Toronto Blue Jays

2016 Level: Dunedin Blue Jays (A+) – Disabled list


Pentecost led Kennesaw State to a NCAA regional title and ranking second in the nation in hitting as a junior before going to the Blue Jays with the No. 11 overall pick in the 2014 Draft. Unfortunately, he’s appeared in only 25 games since then, as he underwent surgery to repair a partially torn right labrum in October following his pro debut, and then had arthroscopic surgery the following February to clean up the same shoulder, costing him the entire 2015 season. While Pentecost’s natural hitting ability and speed make him an intriguing long-term fantasy option behind the plate, he’ll have to prove that his shoulder is healthy enough to remain at the position.


Impact categories: R, SB, AVG


The Next 10 (Alphabetical Order):


Austin Barnes, Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB)

Chris Betts, Tampa Bay Rays (Extended spring training)

Kyle Farmer, C/3B, Los Angeles Dodgers (Double-A Tulsa Drillers)

Aramis Garcia, San Francisco Giants (High-A San Jose Giants)

Reese McGuire, Pittsburgh Pirates (Double-A Altoona Curve)

Dom Nunez, Colorado Rockies (High-A Modesto Nuts)

Luis Torrens, New York Yankees (High-A Charleston RiverDogs – Disabled list)

Justin O’Conner, Tampa Bay Rays (Double-A Montgomery Biscuits – Disabled list)

Chase Vallot, Kansas City Royals (Low-A Lexington Legends)

Taylor Ward, Los Angeles Angels (High-A Inland Empire 66ers)