The catcher landscape is a very unpleasant position when talking about fantasy baseball. On Benched with Bubba EP 137, with guest Nathan Dokken, we previewed the catcher position and discussed our straggies at the lovely position. We discussed how we feel about the top tier targets at the position and how important it may be to have one of the top 9, 10 or 11 catchers. Being a position that many like to wait on in drafts, and some won’t change their strategy this year, here are a few fantasy baseball late round catcher targets.
Welington Castillo (currently 17th C, 280.91 overall)
BEEEEEEF!!!!!! Oh how I missed having Beef for a full season. This draft spot just blows my mind. When Beef joined the White Sox in the winter of 2017 I couldn’t have been happier. Castillo was coming of a 2017 season where he hit .282 with 20 home runs in only 96 games. I was ready for him to take care of business in a rather hitter friendly Guaranteed Rate Field.
Then the news came down of a PED suspension. As bummed as I was there was nothing I can do about the suspension and the suspension is the only thing I can think of that’s causing Welington’s draft price to be so low going into this season.
Some people may say all the power was due to the PEDs, but come on, he hit 13/19/14 home runs in each of the previous 3 seasons, so there is definitely some pop in that bat. In only 49 games last season he hit 6 HR (just imagine 12-15 in a full season of action) with a .259 BA (.251 xBA). Welington had a 12.8% HR/FB which isn’t horrible and leads to some optimism for more to come in 2019. According to Baseball Savant he had a 46% hard hit rate rate, as well as above average barrel % (9.7%), exit velocity (90.4 mph) and launch angle (15.5).
The only really glaring concern to me was his 41.9% GB rate compared to his 25% FB rate according to Baseball Savant. If he can increase that FB rate to 30%+ then we can definitely be close to Steamer’s 2019 projection of 15 home runs and a really solid catcher at his solid draft value.
Omar Narvaez (currently 25th C, 357.09 overall)
Those of you that listened to MLB DFS Quick Hits last season should know about the love we gained for Narvaez. He was usually a cheap catching option, that many didn’t know about and he was quite the sneaky offensive talent.
Last season the 26 year old played in 97 games for the White Sox where he hit a really solid .275 with a .330 BABIP and a .262 xBA. A .275 average for a catcher is absolutely outstanding, then throw in the 9 HR and 30 RBI and he’s a really sneaky fantasy catcher.
Many will say he outperformed his expected results, and this is true, but it wasn’t an insane over performance. The BA and xBA are only .013 points apart (we all know we’d be ok with a .260 BA form our catcher) and his wOBA was .348 with a xwOBA of .326, so a difference of .022. Yes, there will likely be regression coming between the expected results, plus the change in ballparks from Guaranteed Rate Field to Safeco Field. Steamer has Narvaez projected to play 105 games, hit .249 with only 7 HR (I expect more power) and 39 RBI. Steamer projections are always cautious, and I think that the Narvaez projections can be even better.
Narvaez will be the everyday catcher in Seattle in 2019 and his backup isn’t scary in David Freitas. Last year Narvaez had a 14.5% HR/FB which I’ll take all day and if he can improve on the 42.9% GB rate we’ll be in business. You aren’t drafting Narvaez to hit a ton of homers, but 10 or more is an option and you’ll get a pretty solid BA which is hard to find this late in your fantasy baseball drafts.
Castillo and Narvaez are 2 of my favorite late round catcher targets going into the 2019 fantasy baseball draft season. I do prefer to get one of the Top 9-11 options, but if that doesn’t happen I’ll gladly take one of these catchers. If you want to look at a couple other deep options check out Kurt Suzuki, Austin Barnes and Chris Iannetta. Also, check out the 2019 Fantasy Baseball Catcher Rankings as you prep for draft season.