Justin Mason’s 2023 Catcher Ranks: 1/31/2023 by Justin Mason January 31, 2023 Now that football season is over, it is time to really prep for baseball drafts! This year to improve my prep, I am doing full projections on every position which are reflected in my ranks. My ranks will be available here on FanGraphs and daily updates and full projections will be available on the Sleeper and the Bust Patreon once I have completed them. Justin Mason’s 2023 Catcher Ranks: 1/31/2023 NAME TEAM LG ALLPOS 1 J.T. Realmuto PHI NL C 2 Daulton Varsho TOR AL C/OF 3 Salvador Perez KC AL C/DH 4 Will Smith LAD NL C/DH 5 Willson Contreras STL NL C/DH 6 Adley Rutschman BAL AL C/DH 7 Alejandro Kirk TOR AL C/DH 8 MJ Melendez KC AL C/OF/DH 9 Sean Murphy ATL NL C/DH 10 Tyler Stephenson CIN NL C 11 William Contreras MIL NL C/DH 12 Cal Raleigh SEA AL C 13 Danny Jansen TOR AL C 14 Keibert Ruiz WAS NL C 15 Travis d’Arnaud ATL NL C 16 Yasmani Grandal CHW AL C/DH 17 Christian Vazquez MIN AL C 18 Luis Campusano SD NL C 19 Joey Bart SF NL C 20 Elias Diaz COL NL C 21 Bo Naylor CLE AL C 22 Endy Rodriguez PIT NL C 23 Austin Nola SD NL C 24 Carson Kelly ARI NL C 25 Nick Fortes MIA NL C 26 Logan O’Hoppe LAA AL C 27 Christian Bethancourt 베탄코트 TB AL C/1B 28 Yan Gomes CHC NL C 29 Ryan Jeffers MIN AL C 30 Gary Sanchez N/A N/A C/DH 31 Eric Haase DET AL C 32 Jonah Heim TEX AL C 33 Gabriel Moreno ARI NL C 34 Martin Maldonado HOU AL C 35 Mike Zunino CLE AL C 36 Victor Caratini MIL NL C 37 Jose Trevino NYY AL C 38 Francisco Mejia TB AL C 39 Andrew Knizner STL NL C 40 Reese McGuire BOS AL C 41 Connor Wong BOS AL C 42 Jacob Stallings MIA NL C 43 Austin Barnes LAD NL C 44 Roberto Perez N/A N/A C 45 Max Stassi LAA AL C 46 Omar Narvaez NYM NL C 47 Brian Serven COL NL C 48 Austin Hedges PIT NL C 49 P.J. Higgins ARI NL C/1B 50 Ivan Herrera STL NL C Position eligibility is based on 20 games played in 2022. Blue denotes the beginning of a tier. Note The ranks are for leagues with 20 game elgibilty which means neither Francisco Alvarez and Shea Langeliers were included. Langeliers would have been behind Jansen and Alvarez would have been in the last tier due to playing time concerns. Thoughts on Tier 1 JT Realmuto stands alone in the catching ranks and for good reason. He was just the second catcher in MLB history to have a 20/20 season and did it with a .276 batting average. In a two catcher league, he is a pretty easy second round pick and could return first round value. Thoughts on Tier 2 I hate having one player tiers, but it is pretty clear that both Realmuto and Varsho deserve their own tiers. With the move to Toronto it seems pretty likely that Varsho’s catching days could be over with both Kirk and Jansen on the roster, but that is an issue for next season. This season, he could be a plate appearance monster with everyday at bats in the outfield. There is power and speed that is uncommon for the catching position. I question the batting average, but the counting stats at a position that is known for bad batting averages could make him a league winner. In a 10-team or 12-team one catcher league, I can rationalize taking either Varsho or Realmuto where they go, but if I don’t end up with one of them, I likely wait until the end of the draft. Thoughts on Tier 3 Salvador Perez could arguably be in his own tier as well, especially if you think it is likely that he returns to being a 550+ plate appearance guy again. That being said, he is one of the safer bets to be one of the few plate appearance monsters at the position and he is about as safe as can be in terms of the overall stat line. Will Smith is another plate appearance monster at the catching position with two straight seasons of 500+ plate appearances. I don’t know if we ever really see another level for him like we initially thought he could have but he is very safe and still in a very good top half of the lineup. I don’t love the park move for Willson Contreras, but in the end, he will be in arguably the best lineup in the National League and should deliver a lot of plate appearances with a great stat line. I feel like the market is sleeping on him quite a bit. I love the upside that Rutschman has, but I do worry about the price in the market and having to pay for that upside before we have seen it at the Major League level. That being said, the plate skills and contact skills are elite for a catcher and the power is developing. I wouldn’t be surprised if he takes a massive step forward this year, but I don’t want to pay for it yet. I love Kirk, but I do worry the addition of Belt could take away some of his extra plate appearance opportunities at DH. That being said, few catchers have his plate skills and I am willing to bet those and I hope Toronto continues to give him as many opportunities as possible. Melendez is another plate appearance monster that has fantastic power upside, but struggles to make enough contact to unlock it completely. That being said, he should play so much that at worst he is a great accumulator at the position and at best could vault to the top of the tier. Thoughts on Tier 4 Sean Murphy led all catchers in plate appearances last season, but I doubt he will be able to do that again since he won’t be the only great player on the team like he was in Oakland last year. That being said, I think the Braves will find ways to get him in the lineup as much as they can and he should get a nice boost from the park and lineup around him. Tyler Stephenson hasn’t lived up to his prospect pedigree, but his seasons have been disjointed due to injury. I still believe there is a good amount of the power in the bat and the contact skills have been great for a catcher. Recent reports are that the Reds would like him to play 140-150 games between catching, first base and DH, but I think that is pretty ambitious considering his injury track record, but if he did, he could be a monster. William Contreras should now get more opportunities to play now that he is in Milwaukee, but I just don’t know if there is another level for him unfortunately. However, his good average and power at the position makes him pretty at the position. Thoughts on Tier 5 I think Cal Raleigh is what he is at this point, a big power bat that will drain your average. It is hard not to love him as a player with a nickname like Big Dumper, but I much prefer to get a guy in the previous tier or a guy that won’t kill my average. Jansen is the most likely guy in this tier and below to jump up into higher tiers, but I now question his plate appearance upside with Belt in tow. He was so good in the second half, I would be surprised if the Jays didn’t figure out a way to maximize his opportunities which makes him pretty safe mixed with a ton of upside. Ruiz had the best zone contact of any catcher in baseball with at least 300 plate appearances, but there just isn’t enough power to warrant consideration in one catcher leagues. He makes sense as a high floor C2 in deeper formats, but the upside is limited. Thoughts on Tier 6 d’Arnaud is a really good player when he is on the field, but between the addition of Murphy and his injury history, I have a lot of concerns on whether he can rack up enough plate appearances to have value. Is Grandal washed? He sure looked like it, but I am willing to take the gamble on him if there is some sort of replacement value on the wire. Reports are that he is completely healthy for spring training, so that is a start. Thoughts on Tier 7 Vazquez is a guy that doesn’t really hurt you but doesn’t really help you either. Sometimes that is all you are looking for in a C2 or an AL only catcher though. Is this finally the year that Campusano gets to play? I think he will but the defense will likely keep him from playing enough to matter in most formats. Upside is big but there is a low likelihood that he reaches it. I want Bart to be good as a Giants fan and I see the potential, but he really struggled against offspeed and breaking pitches and until he figures that out, he won’t progress much. I like Endy Rodriguez as a catching prospect, but I just don;t know when he is up and the Pirates have a history of not wanting to start guys’ clock for as long as possible. Nick Fortes is really interesting if he can get the playing time, but with defensive stalwart Stallings around, I think that will be an issue. O’Hoppe is a high upside catching prospect, but reports are that the Angels were interested in Gary Sanchez and may even want to give Thaiss the backup job since he is out of options. If he does get the job, he could be a fun player to roster this season. Bethancourt was a fun story last year, but I just don’t know if I buy him to be able to carry much of it over for 2023. Thoughts on the Rest Gary Sanchez is very interesting depending on where he ends up. He still has a ton of power and made the best zone contact since 2018. First he needs a job. Jonah Heim was really good but completely fell apart in the second half. If he gets back his first half form, then he could be a huge bargain. Moreno is a top tier prospect, but I worry that splitting the role with Kelly limits his upside for this year. Jose Trevino was another fun story in 2023 and he should play a fair amount and shouldn’t really hurt you which is something for a low end C2. I want Stassi to be good again, but the injuries have taken a real toll on him and it would not be surprising if he ended up being an afterthought with O’Hoppe and Thaiss as options.