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Top 5 Fantasy Baseball Prospect Rankings: Catcher (2024)

Top 5 Fantasy Baseball Prospect Rankings: Catcher (2024)

That’s right! It is already time to prepare for the fantasy baseball season once again. The fantasy football season is in the rearview mirror, the NFL playoffs are rolling along and the NBA and NHL are both about midway through their respective 2023-24 campaigns. For MLB enthusiasts, that all means baseball is fast approaching.

Proper preparation for fantasy baseball drafts always includes digging through the farm systems of all 30 organizations to uncover the next crop of potent producers. In this piece, the focus will be on those catching prospects who are most likely to make an impact for fantasy managers during the 2024 season.

(Each player included still holds MLB Rookie eligibility)

Top 5 Prospects Per Position: Catcher

1. Austin Wells (NYY)

If the focus here with this article was not solely geared toward MLB production potential for 2024, names such as Ethan Salas, Harry Ford and Dalton Rushing would definitely be included at or near the top. However, Austin Wells lands at No. 1 for our purposes, as he may well be the only catcher around the league with a real shot at Rookie of the Year honors.

As things stand, Wells figures to be the main backstop for the Yankees from the outset of the season, filling at least the strong side of a platoon with veteran Jose Trevino. Wells made his MLB debut this past September and started 18 games behind the plate for the Yankees during the season’s final month. In that time, he only hit .229 with a 14-to-3 K/BB ratio across 75 plate appearances. On the plus side, Wells displayed the same pop that carried him up through the Minors, as he slugged .486 with four home runs and six doubles.

Wells was selected by the Yankees in the first round (28th overall) of the 2020 MLB Draft. Over nearly 1,300 plate appearances from 2021 to 2023, he hammered Minor League pitching, slugging .476 with a .216 ISO. At the Triple-A level last year, he ripped 17 homers with 24 doubles and seven steals. That base-stealing ability is somewhat intriguing, as Wells swiped 39 bags while being caught only once over the past three seasons.

With a left-handed power stroke in Yankee Stadium, some stolen-base potential and plate discipline that resulted in a 13.5 BB% in the Minors, it shouldn’t shock anyone if Wells were to finish as a top-20, perhaps even top-15 fantasy catcher in 2024. Here’s the thing, though:  It probably will indeed shock many.

2. Ivan Herrera (STL)

Like Wells, Ivan Herrera has already spent some time in the Bigs, getting 66 plate appearances and catching 151 innings for the Cardinals over the last two seasons. The 23-year-old backstop from Panama fared far better against MLB hurlers in 2023 than after debuting in 2022. Last year, between a couple of stints with the Cards, Herrera went 11 for 37 (.297 AVG) with a pair of doubles and five walks (.409 OBP), showing a similar selectivity and line-drive approach that led to excellent Triple-A numbers.

At the highest level of the Cardinals’ farm system last summer, Herrera turned in a .297/.451/.500 slash line with 10 homers, 27 doubles and 11 steals (13 attempts) across 375 plate appearances. He drew walks at a ridiculous 20% clip while producing a very promising 29.2% line-drive rate. In the Majors last season, Herrera followed up on those marks with a 26.9 LD%, 91.3 mph average EV and an 11.4 BB%. Given all that, Herrera obviously profiles as a high-AVG, high-OBP hitter.

The question is, how many at-bats can he find in 2024 with veteran Willson Contreras firmly entrenched as the Cardinals’ starting catcher? Well, Contreras started 89 games behind the plate in 2023 and 30 more at DH. That left 287 plate appearances for the Cardinals’ backup catchers. Herrera figures to be the main backup to Contreras this year, putting upwards of 300 plate appearances within reach. That could set Herrera up well for some decent fantasy value at arguably the shallowest position on the board, especially in deeper formats.

3. Jeferson Quero (MIL)

The current No. 2 prospect at the position, according to MLB.com, Jeferson Quero, like Herrera, is blocked for Big-League playing time by an All-Star catcher named Contreras. In Milwaukee, it’s William Contreras who is locked into the position. However, like his older brother in St. Louis, Contreras is a bat-first catcher who spends some time at DH (29 starts) and left 226 plate appearances open for backup Victor Caratini last season. That’s where Quero could eventually fit in following his widely expected call to the show at some point this year.

Quero’s current calling card is his defense. Gold Gloves may await the 21-year-old Venezuelan in the future, as he’s made only 19 errors (.988 Fld%) over almost 1,300 innings behind the plate in the Minors. He also threw out 35% of base stealers at Double-A last year and 46% (13 of 24) during the Arizona Fall League. The progression of his bat will largely determine the timing of Quero’s debut for the Brewers.

Quero has yet to play above Double-A, where he put together a .262/.339/.441 slash line with 16 homers and 12 doubles across 381 plate appearances last year. He tapped into some additional pop while walking at a 10% clip and striking out just 17.8 percent of the time. Quero did not homer across 55 plate appearances in the Fall League, but he did come up with three doubles and a triple while continuing to display solid plate discipline (7 BB). Great defense will earn him time in the lineup down the road. Decent pop will give fantasy managers a little something on the side.

4. Kyle Teel (BOS)

Kyle Teel can just flat-out rake. That’s put him on the fast track for the Red Sox since they picked him 14th overall in the MLB Draft this past July, as he managed to escalate all the way up to Double-A in just over six weeks after signing. Since leaving the University of Virginia, where he won ACC Player of the Year honors, Teel has played just 26 total games in the Sox system, garnering 114 total plate appearances.

Even with a lack of pro experience under his belt, Teel’s eye at the plate is advanced beyond his years. At just 22 years old, he has already shown the ability to line the ball from pole to pole and still has the potential to tack on some additional home-run power. Teel turned in a sensational .363/.483/.495 slash line with a pair of deep drives and six doubles over his time in the Minors last year. He also worked 21 walks (18.4%).

Teel will likely begin the 2024 season back at Double-A or possibly Triple-A alongside another catching prospect, Nathan Hickey. Hickey is older and could get a crack at the Bigs before Teel. However, Hickey is a budding power hitter and is not known for his defense. Teel is much more likely than Hickey to stick behind the plate. The combo of Reese McGuire and Connor Wong should not concern anyone regarding Teel’s path to the Majors.

Fantasy managers might have to wait a while in 2024 to get any production from Teel. There’s also certainly a possibility that the Red Sox prolong his debut until 2025. However, he is the long-term plan behind the plate in Boston.

5. Edgar Quero (CWS)

The situation with Edgar Quero for 2024 is much the same as Teel’s. The White Sox have acquired Martin Maldonado and Max Stassi this offseason. Both should be viewed as little more than veteran placeholders. The club also picked up Korey Lee in a late-July trade last summer. Lee did not inspire much confidence down the stretch last season, going 5 for 65 with a 28.6 K% in 24 games for the Sox. All that means Quero is on the express lane to Chicago’s South Side despite still being more than two months shy of his 21st birthday.

Quero came to the White Sox organization in another 2023 trade that sent Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez to the Angels. Quero was immediately expected to be the catcher of the future in Chicago. However, he will require more refining both at the plate and behind it before reaching the Big Leagues.

Quero enjoyed a stellar season with the bat at Single-A in 2022, posting a .312/.435/.530 slash line with 17 homers, 35 doubles and 12 steals. That got him to Double-A Rocket City (LAA) last year, where he managed to hit just .246 with three home runs and 13 doubles. Still, he walked 17.1% of the time, leading to a .386 OBP. Following his move to Double-A Birmingham (CWS), Quero hit .277 with a .759 OPS and three more homers.

A switch-hitter with a great eye and time to step into more power, Quero may be a year or two away from really paying dividends for fantasy managers. Still, the potential is there for him to do so in 2024.

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Nate Miller is a featured writer at FantasyPros and a 9-year veteran of the fantasy sports industry. For more from Nate, check out his archive and follow him on Twitter @Miller_RotoDad.

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