Fantasy Baseball Sleepers: Potential bargains at thin catcher spot

To help with your fantasy baseball draft prep, Dalton Del Don will examine potential draft bargains at each position. He kicks off his series with the catchers.

Mitch Garver, Minnesota Twins

Garver is two seasons removed from swatting 31 homers over just 93 games, when his 155 wRC+ easily led all catchers. After a forgetful 2020, Garver bounced back last year with 13 home runs over 207 at bats, including a .256 xBA and a 137 wRC+ that was better than Salvador Perez’s. If he qualified, Garver would’ve ranked in the top 5% of the league (among all hitters not just catchers) in Barrel% and in the top 3% in Hard Hit%. Injuries remain a concern, but his bat is plenty good enough to warrant DH time as well. Garver could easily finish as a top-three fantasy catcher this season, yet his Yahoo ADP is in Round 20.

Austin Nola, San Diego Padres

Nola is an afterthought in drafts, although it was injuries solely to blame for his poor 2021. He admittedly has durability concerns, but he also sports a higher career wRC+ (114) than J.T. Realmuto (109). Nola walked nearly as often as he struck out last season, and he sported a .280 expected batting average in 2020. The universal DH could help keep Nola healthy and his bat in the lineup, and he’s the rare catcher who doesn’t hurt your batting average. Nola is a sleeper with an ADP of 241.

[Batter up: Join or create a Yahoo Fantasy Baseball league for free today]

Alejandro Kirk, Toronto Blue Jays

Kirk will have to continue fighting for at bats in Toronto, with Danny Jansen entering the year as the team’s starter and one of the best catcher prospects set to make his MLB debut at some point in 2022. Still, Kirk is worth grabbing in fantasy leagues anyway, as his bat has a bunch of upside. The 5-foot-8, 265-pounder hit .347 in Triple-A last year and has real power. A loaded Blue Jays lineup should boost his counting stats, helping offset lesser playing time. There’s no chance Kirk is this affordable (currently 226 ADP) in 2023 fantasy drafts.

Alejandro Kirk might have to compete for at bats with the Blue Jays, but still offers upside at catcher with how late he's going in fantasy baseball drafts. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Alejandro Kirk might have to compete for at bats with the Blue Jays, but still offers upside at catcher with how late he's going in fantasy baseball drafts. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Teammate Gabriel Moreno hit .373 with a 192 wRC+ in Double-A last season (cut short by a thumb injury), and projection systems immediately treat him like one of the game’s better hitting catchers. Moreno will be an extremely popular waiver wire add when he’s called up to Toronto.

James McCann, New York Mets

McCann is cheap at draft tables (239 ADP) coming off a rough first year in New York after signing a big contract. But he posted a 142 wRC+ the season prior, and it’s safe to expect a bounce back after experiencing a year of NL pitching. McCann should quickly move up New York’s lineup should he return to hitting like he did from 2019-2020.

[Fantasy Baseball Draft Rankings: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | SP | RP]

Joey Bart, San Francisco Giants

It’s possible numerous players having career seasons in their mid-thirties all at once was a big coincidence; or the Giants’ front office (multiple hitting coaches, advanced hitting machines, etc.) is a reason to target San Francisco hitters moving forward (it also helps Oracle Park has become less of a pitcher-haven). Bart hasn’t quite lived up to expectations after being taken with the No. 2 pick in the 2018 draft (although he certainly wasn’t overmatched in Triple-A last season), but almost all catchers require extra patience with development. With Buster Posey retiring, Bart is set to become San Francisco’s starting catcher in 2022, yet the prospect is being overlooked in fantasy drafts (300+ ADP in two-catcher NFBC leagues).

Follow Dalton Del Don on Twitter