Dumpster Dives and Dynasty Finds: Catchers
Each week of draft season, I’ll be digging through the dumpster to find players for the deepest of deep league owners. I’ll also look at some prospects who have a decent acquisition cost in dynasty leagues. The projections next to the player names are an average of THE BAT, ATC, Steamer, and ZIPS projection systems found on Fangraphs. NFBC ADP data is from the date range 1/01/2019-02/03/2019. Catcher week continues below!
Tyler Flowers, ATL (ADP 418): 321 PA, 36 R, 10 HR, 38 RBI, 1 SB, .245/.335/.397/.733
Flowers was awesome for the Braves in 2016 and 2017, but saw a slip in performance in 2018. He raised his K% by 3.5%, but was able to offset that by walking 3.4% more. The biggest issue seen with Flowers has a deflated BABIP. It was nearly 50 points off his 2017 number and 74 points off 2016. He hit a few more fly balls last season which will lead to lower BABIPs, but he raised his Hard% (hard hit rate) to a career best 48.9%. This all implies that Flowers was just unlucky in 2018 which has me buying in deep leagues and two catcher leagues. He’s known as an excellent pitch framer, so he should get the lion’s share of the at bats even though he’s on the short side (right handed) of a platoon with the next man on this list.
Brian McCann, ATL (ADP 418): 267 PA, 30 R, 10 HR, 35 RBI, 1 SB, .228/.312/.390/.702
McCann is returning to where his career started in Atlanta for the 2019 season. He’s presumably Tyler Flowers’ backup but I think he’ll play more than your normal backup catcher. He really struggled to hit at the plate last season for the first time since his rookie season. This is clearly a catcher that is on the downside of his career, but I think there’s some more juice to be squeezed out of this old orange. First off, Sun Trust Park is a great park for left handed power. Additionally, he won’t have to start against a single lefty all season. He’s dreadful in that department and luckily, he has Tyler Flowers to take care of those ABs. I’d only take McCann in a very, very deep league or if you decide to use a strategy I outlined in the Undervalued/Overvalued article from yesterday.
Flowers and McCann’s combined projection:
588 PA, 66 R, 20 HR, 73 RBI, 2 SB, .237/.324/.394/.718
This duo isn’t quite as good as the Nationals duo from yesterday’s article, but it’s certainly a serviceable one. Flowers mashes lefties and struggles against righties. McCann can’t hit lefties and he’ll be able to take some of the burden off Flowers against the right handers. I think these two have a chance to finish the season as the better duo for a much lower acquisition cost.
Omar Narvaez, SEA (ADP 312): 379 PA, 38 R, 7 HR, 37 RBI, 1 SB, .254/.338/.366/.704
I’ll admit Narvaez’s current ADP is a bit steep for a player with those projections, but he does have the one thing you always need in deep leagues: playing time. Narvaez was the backup catcher for the White Sox the last two years received more-than-average-backup-catcher playing time. He was especially *nice* last year with 69 total R+HR+RBIs and a .275/.366/.429/.794 slash line. He now moves to Seattle’s Safeco Field T-Mobile Park to become the starting catcher. He’s a good buy as a second catcher in deep leagues with a safe batting average and ample playing time. Oh yeah, he’s also only 26 years old, so there may be more growth in store for Narvaez.
James McCann, CHW (ADP 568): 220 PA, 20 R, 6 HR, 22 RBI, 1 SB, .232/.289/.365/.654
Ok now we’re getting REAL deep. This is the kind of stuff I love. The players in this range are so, so bad, but I think the next three on this list have a clearer path to usefulness than the rest around this ADP. McCann was horrifying last season with a slash line of .220/.267/.314/.581 and only 8 homers. That season resulted in the Tigers cutting bait and the White Sox moving in on McCann to make him the primary backup to Beef Welington. He’s only one year removed from a .253/.318/.415/.733 slash with 13 homers and I think those skills still exist if he’s used in the right spots. He’s only one foul tip (or failed drug test) to Welington Castillo away from being a starting catcher in a great ballpark. I think he’s worth a gamble in deep leagues.
Carson Kelly, ARI (ADP 420): 249 PA, 29 R, 6 HR, 28 RBI, 1 SB, .241/.318/.367/.685
Kelly is going through some changes in his career. He has some things going for him in 2019, namely a prospect pedigree, good path to playing time, and a change of scenery in Arizona. He just wasn’t going to get the playing time he needed in St. Louis and now he’s kind of been freed with the Diamondbacks. He’s projected as a glove first catcher, but I like his upside with the bat. I’m not sure it’ll come in 2019 but I think he has a long career of being an average regular ahead of him; at worst his glove will keep him in the lineup.
Chance Sisco, BAL (ADP 612): 234 PA, 25 R, 5 HR, 24 RBI, 1 SB, .235/.313/.353/.669
Sisco has a lot of similarities to Carson Kelly, actually. He is a former top catcher prospect who should have a clear path to playing time, at least against right-handed pitching. The big difference is that Sisco was known as a bat first catching prospect, so we need to start seeing some improvement at the plate. He was bad last year in AAA and in his first taste of the big leagues, but he has pedigree, opportunity, and a great home ballpark. All of this has him on my radar for 2019 and beyond.
I’ll admit, the Dynasty Finds section of this catcher preview is a bit rough. In my opinion, catching prospects are bad investments. They typically take far too long to reach the big leagues and when they do they are usually slow to bring their bat with them. Kelly and Sisco are great examples of this, as they were touted as the top catching prospects just a few years ago. To be fantasy relevant, a catching prospect should be bat first, but able to stay behind the plate. There are a few youngsters that fit that mold and I’ll detail each below.
Joey Bart, SF: Age 22, ETA: 2021
Bart was drafted second overall by the Giants in last year’s first year player draft. He follows Matt Wieters as a high profile catching prospect out of Georgia Tech. He has big power and is known as a great defender, so he should stick behind the plate. He may struggle to hit for average, but he has the profile of a top 10 fantasy catcher.
Keibert Ruiz, LAD: Age 20, ETA: 2020
Ruiz certainly fits the mold as a bat first catcher, but in a different way than Bart. He’s got more of a contact first profile, but that can certainly be useful in a fantasy catcher. He’ll stay at catcher and I think he’s a nice find in your dynasty league if you want to invest in a catcher.
MJ Melendez, KC: Age 20, ETA: 2021
Melendez is my favorite target for catchers in dynasty leagues. Scouts rave about his intangibles and athleticism. He’s got big power and should be able to stick behind the plate due to his strong arm. He’s also bilingual, which is a major positive when commanding a staff. He’s a ways away from catching in the big leagues, but I really like his power potential.
Catcher week rolls on for KMill Sports Insights and we’ll have a couple of player spotlights from two guys I found very interesting coming in to 2019. Later, I’ll go through the best bounce back and regression candidates before releasing my 2019 catcher rankings.