We all know the risks involved in investing in catchers, as they often get days off and are prone to injury due to the wear and tear of the position. Not wanting to invest heavily makes sense, so who are some names available late in drafts (especially for those in two-catcher formats) who are worth targeting (ADP of 200+ currently in NFBC drafts)? Let’s take a look:
Sean Murphy – Oakland A’s
NFBC ADP – 216.74
Murphy made his MLB debut in ’19, hitting .245 with 4 HR over 60 PA. He’s clearly starting to mature into his power, having added 10 HR over 140 PA at Triple-A along with 11 doubles and 1 triple. He’s also always shown a strong approach at the plate, including a 17.8% strikeout rate courtesy of a 7.8% SwStr% at Triple-A between 2018 and 2019.
Throw in an impressive exit velocity in his short time in the Majors, posting 90.7 mph (which would’ve placed him in the Top 50 had he qualified) and the package is solid. The presence of Austin Allen could cut into his playing time, which will be something to watch, but Murphy’s upside is impressive if you miss out on the top names.
Carson Kelly – Arizona Diamondbacks
NFBC ADP – 200.67
Kelly barely qualified for the list, and it is also hard to consider him a sleeper. He was long considered the catcher of the future for the Cardinals, but will finally get the opportunity to thrive as a starter for the Diamondbacks. He’s clearly ahead of Stephen Vogt on the depth chart and while Daulton Varsho is coming quickly, the fact that the Diamondbacks are talking about moving him to another position tells you that they believe in Kelly and his ability to thrive behind the plate.
In 314 AB in ’19 Kelly hit .245 with 18 HR and 47 RBI. While the average would appear to be a bit of a red flag, these metrics tell you that an improvement is coming:
- Hard% – 48.7%
- BABIP – .271
- SwStr% – 8.6%
- O-Swing% – 25.0%
Throw in above average marks in Barrel% (8.9% vs. 6.3%), Launch Angle (14.3% vs. 11.2%) and Exit Velocity (89.0 mph vs. 87.5) and it’s easy to envision him maintaining his power while dramatically improving his average.
Danny Jansen – Toronto Blue Jays
NFBC ADP – 272.75
Jansen was hyped entering 2019, but he fell flat with the transition to handling an MLB pitching staff as he hit .207 over 384 PA. While he struggled with a .230 BABIP, his 42.4% Hard% tells a different story and his approach was solid:
- SwStr% – 8.8%
- O-Swing% – 29.7%
Just looking at last year’s numbers would be a turnoff, especially since he never surpassed .246 or 4 HR in a month during his rookie season. The metrics tell a different story, as does his 2018 production at Triple-A (he hit .275 with 12 HR over 360 PA) and his strong preseason (he already has 4 HR). With a year of experience under his belt he should be able to make the necessary adjustments and a much better campaign should be in his future. He may not be a starting catcher in one-catcher formats, and he needs to overcome Reese McGuire, but if your league requires two catchers he’s an ideal bargain buy.
Kurt Suzuki – Washington Nationals
NFBC ADP – 288.25
Suzuki will continue to operate in a platoon for the Nationals, sharing time with Yan Gomes. However over the past three years Suzuki has proven that he can be a productive bat, even if he doesn’t reach 400 PA:
- 2017 – .283 with 19 HR and 50 RBI over 309 PA
- 2018 – .271 with 12 HR and 50 RBI over 388 PA
- 2019 – .264 with 17 HR and 63 RBI over 309 PA
Obviously the upside is capped given his situation, but especially in two-catcher formats (or if Gomes were to miss time in one-catcher formats) there’s enough upside to make him valuable.
Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Savant
Make sure to check out all of our 2020 preseason rankings: