Welcome to my top 40 positional prospects breakdown series. In this series, I will break down each position’s top prospects, giving you a deep dive into the top 5 and providing five additional names to target in deep dynasty leagues. My goal is to help you get your minor league systems into shape with upside prospects that can help you now as well as set you up for long-term success in the future. Let’s dive into my top 5 fantasy baseball catching prospects and 5 deep league names to keep your eyes on.
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Top 5 Fantasy Baseball Catching Prospects
Francisco Alvarez, NYM
Since being signed back in 2018, Francisco Alvarez has moved through the Mets system quickly, making his Major League debut in 2022 at only 20 years old. Through every stop in the minor leagues, Alvarez has had strong OBP numbers. In fact, Alvarez has a career 14.65% walk percentage in the minor leagues. In 2022 Francisco had a .260/.374/.511 slash line with 49 extra-base hits, including 27 home runs and 78 RBIs in 112 games in AA and AAA combined. Alvarez struggled with average once he got to AAA Syracuse, hitting just .234 in 158 at-bats while posting the second-lowest BABIP of his minor league career. It would not surprise me to see that rise up 30 points as he gets acclimated to regular Major League playing time.
Currently up with the Mets, Alvarez will get every opportunity to entrench himself in the Mets lineup and be locked into dynasty managers’ lineups for years to come.
Harry Ford, SEA
One of the great storylines of the World Baseball Classic was the performance Harry Ford put up for Great Britain, calling the games at just 20 years old. All this came on the heels of a strong 2022 season where Ford slashed .274/.425/.438 with 38 XBH, 11 HR, 89 runs, and 23 stolen bases in 104 games played at A- Modesto. Ford offers more speed upside for dynasty managers than Francisco Alvarez and should come into 20+ home run power as he continues to mature and put on muscle. His strikeout rate was solid in 2022 sitting at 23% all while maintaining an elite walk rate of 17.6%, showing discipline and pitch recognition that will serve him well as he advances up the Mariners minor league ladder.
Seattle has assigned Harry Ford to A+ Everett where he should be able to build on his stellar minor league numbers and make his way to AA by season’s end.
Tyler Soderstrom, OAK
If you are a dynasty manager wanting versatility, Soderstrom needs to be on your radar. The power-hitting lefty has done nothing but hit since being drafted by the Athletics in the first round out of high school in 2020. With quick bat speed and the ability to barrel the ball consistently, Soderstrom impressed in 2022 as he ascended from A+ to finish the season at AAA Las Vegas. In 134 combined games, Soderstrom slashed .267/.324/.501 with 55 XBH, 29 HRs, and 105 RBIs. The average in A+ was at .260; lower than any stop in 2022 but could have been caused by a thumb injury Soderstrom played through.
Though in a limited sample size, Soderstrom hit well for AAA Las Vegas in 2023, lowering his strikeout rate to 16.2% in 8 games and slashing .294/.324/.618 with 2 HRs and 7 RBIs. The Athletics have been playing Soderstrom at both catcher and first base in the minors, giving the 21-year-old Soderstrom positional flexibility that should excite any dynasty manager as he looks to make his MLB debut in 2023.
Endy Rodriguez, PIT
One of the most exciting prospects I was able to see in person in 2022 was Endy Rodriguez in A+ Greensboro. With an easy swing and great raw power, the switch-hitting catcher proved his versatility in the lower minors, getting work in at second base, shortstop, and the outfield in addition to his catching duties. Endy slashed .323/.407/.590 with 68 extra-base hits including 25 home runs, 95 RBI,s and 4 stolen bases in 125 games across A+, AA, and AAA. Rodriguez has good plate discipline, averaging a 16.33% strikeout rate and a 12.2% walk rate during the 2022 season on par with his career averages.
Currently assigned to AAA Indianapolis, Endy is slashing .259/.364/.370 with 1 HR and 8 RBIs in 7 games. If he is able to recreate what we saw in 2022 then Rodriguez should be making his MLB debut in the not-so-distant future.
PIT C/OF Edny Rodriguez with a 2 run Home Run in +A Winston Salem. #LetsGoBucs @WeeklyStreamer @GSOHoppers @Pirates @TWS_Irish @TWSBiscuit @BrianCornell16 pic.twitter.com/YWbPt0x09G
— Richard Haake (@Mustbethehawk) April 16, 2022
Austin Wells, NYY
Taken in the first round of the 2020 MLB draft out of Arizona, Austin Wells has done nothing but hit in the Yankees organization. The left-handed hitting catcher ascended three levels in 2022, slashing .277/.385/.512 with 38 XBH, 20 HRs, 65 RBIs, and 16 stolen bases in 92 combined games. Similar to most of the catching prospects in the top five, Austin Wells has had playing time at first base and right field in the minor leagues though the Yankees have gone on the record saying they see him as the catcher of the future. Wells has slugged 36 home runs in the minor leagues in his two full seasons and projects as a 30+ home-run bat at the Major League level.
Across three levels, Wells showed great plate discipline, striking out only 20.16% of the time while maintaining a 16.96% walk rate. If continued in the majors that’s as good as Bryce Harper has maintained over his career. Just food for thought. With a fractured 12th rib, Austin Wells has not made his 2023 debut yet but should be playing in games by the end of April. Wells might have the highest floor of the catchers listed above. He has the fundamentals to be a solid MLB contributor out of the gates but with the ceiling to be the best catcher in the majors by far.
💣Yankees C Austin Wells with a blast!💥on the year Wells has a .252/.378/.470 with 14 HR and 12SB. @WeeklyStreamer @Yankees @HVRenegades @MiLB @snyyankees @TWS_Irish @TWSBiscuit @Scotty_Ballgame @EricCross04 pic.twitter.com/h5lMQ3UlqF
— Richard Haake (@Mustbethehawk) September 2, 2021
Deep League Catching Prospects To Watch
Ethan Salas, SDP
Everybody loves projecting an international prospect to be the best that has ever lived and more times than not it doesn’t come to fruition. Ethan Salas is not going to be the best prospect ever but he projects to be pretty darn good one and dynasty managers need to take note. As one of the top international prospects in the 2023 class, Salas is no doubt a popular name but the contact skills and defense are already graded as plus tools before he has even taken a minor league at bat. The Padres are so excited about Salas that they debuted him in spring training and although the stay was brief something needs to be said of the decision. This makes me think Ethan Salas will have a quick rise through the Padres organizational ladder.
After seeing live footage from instructs, the swing looks flawless with quick hands through the zone and solid lower half power being generated. Standing at 6’2” and 185 pounds Salas looks more mature than his 16 years of age would suggest and I can see above-average to plus power coming as he continues to fill out. With plus fielding and arm strength, Salas will have no issues handling upper-level pitchers and throwing runners out at second, ensuring he could be an everyday backstop at the Major League level. All of this is nice to dream on and we should start seeing the numbers as Ethan Salas is assigned currently to debut in the Dominican Summer League this year.
Drew Romo, COL
Every season it seems like we get the next high school catcher taking the minor leagues by storm. This was the case with Drew Romo coming out of the 2020 draft as he was graded out as a plus defender behind the plate with a rocket for an arm. The bat impressed out of the gates with his debut in 2021, slashing .314/.345/.439 with 24 XBH, 6 HR, 47 RBIs and 23 stolen bases in 79 games at A- Fresno. The switch-hitting 20-year-old struggled a bit in 2022 as he slashed .254/.321/.372 with 29 XBH, 5 HR, 58 RBIs, and 18 stolen bases in A+ Spokane.
Even with the struggles against A+ pitching, the continued solid plate discipline of a 19.3% strikeout rate was encouraging and the walk rate increased from 5.6% the year prior to 8.3%. It is apparent the Rockies are slow playing their young prospects such as Veen and Montgomery so it’s no surprise to see the same being done with Drew Romo. This season Romo is assigned to AA Hartford where he will more than likely be for the whole season, although it will be interesting to see what he is able to do on the east coast against a division that has some interesting arms at the AA ranks.
Joe Mack, MIA
Those who watch the MLB draft every year might recall the “Bro-mance” between Joe Mack and Reds right-handed pitcher Chase Petty waiting for their names to be called as two high school players at the draft. Mack was selected 31st overall by the Marlins and praised for his plate discipline and a rocket for an arm behind the plate. In 19 games played in complex ball after the draft, Mack struggled with the bat but showed a solid walk rate of 26.7%. The 2022 season would be Joe Mack’s first full season as he split time between complex ball and A- Jupiter.
In 44 combined games, Mack slashed .243/.383/.385 with 10 XBH, 5 HR, and 15 RBIs, once again posting an above-average walk rate of 16% while lowering the strikeout rate to 24.5% (Down from 29.3%). With obvious room for improvement, the Marlins sent Mack to A+ Beloit where he is currently slashing .273/.333/.364 in 12 plate appearances. This season should be a good indication of what we can expect out of Joe Mack long term but with a high OBP upside in the walk rate he needs to be on the deep league dynasty manager’s radar.
Carter Jensen, KCR
It is definitely hard to get excited from a fantasy perspective about catching prospects but Carter Jensen has great upside for deep league formats. Taken by his hometown team, Carter Jensen showed big raw power potential before the draft and the Royals felt confident taking him away from his LSU commitment in the 3rd round of the 2021 draft. As mentioned before Jensen has plus raw power from the left side of the plate and the Royals challenged him in 2022 sending him to A- Columbia.
The slash line might not look the best at .226/.363/.382 in 113 games but the counting stats and the second-half improvements negate the poor average. Carter Jensen had 37 XBH with 11 HRs, 50 RBIs, and 8 stolen bases over the course of the full season. It gets better as Jensen maintained a 17.1% walk rate (4th in the Carolina League) and lowered his strikeout rate to 21.2% down from 29.2% the year prior. To round out his age-18 season, Carter Jensen was fourth in the Carolina League in doubles; the youngest at the time to do so. The Royals have started Carter Jensen in A+ Quad Cities to start the 2023 season and he should get regular at-bats and improve.
Nathan Hickey, BOS
Drafted in the 5th round of the 2021 MLB draft, Nathan Hickey has been an under-the-radar prospect that put together a strong 2022 season. In A- Salem and A+ Greenville Hickey slashed .263/.415/.522 with 34 XBH, 16 HRs, and 62 RBIs in 75 games. I was fortunate enough to talk to Nathan in A- Salem before a game and talked to him about his approach and discipline at the plate. Hickey’s 18.9% walk rate in A- Salem and A+ Greenville combined is well above average and is on par with his career average in the pro’s and time collegiately at Florida. Hickey is a deep league target that has an excellent eye at the plate and could make a jump to AA Portland with a hot start to the minor league season.
Nathan Hickey C with a double in -A Salem. #Salem #OpeningDay #mustbethehawk #BaseBall @RedSox @salemredsox @nathanhickey10 @WeeklyStreamer pic.twitter.com/SyA7mvgHnF
— Richard Haake (@Mustbethehawk) April 9, 2022
Top 40 MLB Catching Prospects