So it’s Round 6 and you just missed out on Jonathan Lucroy and Devin Mesoraco. Buster Posey is obviously long gone, but you still have a catcher spot to fill. The position seems to have thinned out a little this year with Joe Mauer now losing eligibility, and in some leagues, Carlos Santana (11 games behind the plate last year) is gone as well. You’re in dire need of one of our 2015 Fantasy breakout Catchers!
In theory, Salvador Perez and Yadier Molina look like the safest options left at this point. Then again, are Perez’s 17 home runs repeatable? His previous career high was 13, and he never topped 10 in a single minor-league season. His average could be due for an increase, after batting .260 in 2014 partly caused by an unlucky .278 BABIP (Posey, Lucroy and Mesoraco all had a BABIP above .300). Then again, how much of a toll will 143 games started behind the plate in 2014, not counting the 15 postseason games, play on Perez’s body and performance in 2015?
Molina, meanwhile,battled a thumb injury and an oblique injury last season, and he certainly can’t be considered a lock for his usual workload in his age-33 season.
Nevertheless, let’s try to find those two catchers that could be 2014’s versions of Lucroy and Mesoraco. Yan Gomes seems like an ideal pick. He enters his age 28 season after hitting .278 in his first season as an everyday catcher in 2014. He also hit 21 home runs, despite a flyball to home run rate of 14.4, 6 percent below Mesoraco’s 20.5 last season. Plus, his flyball percentage of 39.4 suggest an increase in home runs would not be out of the question. With that said, such a high flyball percentage, on top of a relatively high strikeout percentage at 23.2 and above average BABIP at .326 makes me feel more comfortable passing on him and waiting a few more rounds to get one of these two catchers.
2015 Fantasy Breakout Catchers To Count On
We define the term “Fantasy Breakouts” as players that are available in the middle rounds this season that could very well put up such a good season, that they are drafted among the best at their position the next year, possibly in the early rounds. But since most people wait on filling their catcher positions, the 2015 Fantasy breakout catchers are middle rounders that should jump up several rounds for 2016, but not necessarily in the early rounds like Posey.
Matt Wieters, Baltimore
Wieters could potentially fall within another article or category, “Post-hype Fantasy sleepers,” which in many ways helps him make my list of potential 2015 Fantasy breakout catchers.
Wieters has an eerily similar pedigree to that of Posey, all the way from draft pick to minor-league production.
- Wieters and Posey were each selected fifth overall (Wieters in 2007, Posey in 2008). By pre-2009, both were considered Top 10 prospects by BaseballProspectus.com (Wieters No. 1 overall, Posey No. 9).
- It took Wieters 220 minor-league games from 2007-09 before making his Major League debut and it took Posey 210 games.
- In 757 minor-league at-bats, Wieters hit .330 with 34 home runs and 150 RBI. In 776 at-bats, Posey hit 27 home runs, 145 RBI and a .323 batting average.
Obviously, minor-league stats do not always translate the same for every player to Major League success. However, this is a former top prospect still in the early stages of his prime that has never truly disappointed, but instead, just failed to live up to the hype as quickly.
In 2014, Wieters hit five home runs, 18 RBI, with a .308 batting average in 26 games (104 at-bats). Project that out and he probably ranks second among Fantasy catchers, right behind Posey. Of course, 26 games is an extremely small sample size, but it shows that he may have finally turned a corner in terms of batting average before Tommy John Surgery ended his season. Right now, he is being drafted around 10th or 11th among catchers, and he could easily turn in a season ranking among the top three or four. You can read more about the 2015 Orioles in our Fantasy team preview.
Travis D’Arnaud, N.Y. Mets
I feel when I stretch on someone like D’Arnaud, I should first point out that I think a guy like Wilson Ramos or Miguel Montero could both have great, breakout-like seasons if they remain healthy (Ramos), or avoid breaking down in his age 31 season (Montero).
In addition, both of them will likely be drafted before D’Arnaud, and rightfully so. Thus, I again would advise patience and wait for D’Arnaud a round or two later, as he probably has the best chance of the three to turn in early round value.
D’Arnaud, similar to Posey and Wieters, had a great pedigree coming up through the minor leagues after being selected 32 picks after Wieters in the 2007 draft. He hit .265 in 196 at-bats after the all-star break last season, after a poor start to the season in which he hit .217 during the first half.
On top of the strong second half, D’Arnaud’s peripherals, and secondary stats, suggest considerable improvement could be in store for 2015. D’Arnaud had a flyball percentage of 38.6, but a flyball-to-HR rate of just 10.5 percent. Meanwhile, despite striking out in just 15.2 percent of his at-bats (11th of 31 catchers with 300 plate appearances), his BABIP ranked 28th.
If D’Arnaud can carry his momentum from the second half last season into 2015, he could easily hit .260-.270 with 15-20 home runs. In a perfect season though, with a little more luck on flyballs, and balls in play as a whole, a .280 average with 20 plus home runs would not be out of the question. We discuss more of the Mets lineup in our Fantasy team preview here.
If one of the superstar catchers doesn’t fall to you in your draft, don’t fret. You should be able to lock up one or both of these 2015 Fantasy breakout catchers later on in the draft.
Matt Wieters Photo Credit: Keith Allison
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