Now that football season is over, it’s time to really get ready for the baseball draft!
This year, to improve my preparation, I make complete projections on each 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 Bust Patreon once I complete them.
Justin Mason’s 2023 Receiver Ranks: 01/31/2023
Eligibility for the position is based on 20 games played in 2022.
Blue indicates the start of a level.
Rankings are for leagues with 20-game eligibility, meaning neither Francisco Alvarez nor Shea Langeliers were included.
Langeliers would have been behind Jansen and Alvarez would have been in the final tier due to playing time issues.
Thoughts on Level 1
JT Realmuto is alone in the contagious ranks and for good reason. He was only the second catcher in MLB history to have a 20/20 season and did so with a .276 batting average. In a two-receiver league, he’s a pretty easy second-round pick and could return first-round value.
Thoughts on Level 2
I hate having single player levels, but it’s pretty clear that Realmuto and Varsho deserve their own levels. With the move to Toronto, it seems quite likely that Varsho’s catching days could be over with Kirk and Jansen on the roster, but that’s a problem for next season. This season, he could be a plate-looking monster with daily at-bats in the outfield. There is unusual power and speed for the catch position. I question the batting average, but the tally stats at a position known for poor batting averages could make him a league winner. In a 10 or 12 team wide receiver league, I can rationalize taking Varsho or Realmuto where they go, but if I don’t end up with either of them, I’ll probably wait until the draft is over.
Thoughts on Level 3
Salvador Perez could also be on his own level, especially if you think he’s likely to go back to being a 550+ plate looking guy. That being said, he’s one of the safest bets to be one of the few plate-looking monsters in position and he’s about as safe as it gets in terms of the overall stat line.
Will Smith is another plate appearance freak at the catch position with two consecutive seasons of over 500 plate appearances. I don’t know if we ever really see another level for him like we initially thought, but he’s very secure and still in a really good top half of the lineup.
I don’t like the move from the park for Willson Contreras, but in the end, he’ll be arguably on the best roster in the National League and should deliver plenty of plate appearances with a great stat line. I have the impression that the market is sleeping a little on him.
I love Rutschman’s upside, but I’m worried about the price on the market and having to pay for that upside before I’ve seen him at Major League level. That being said, plate skills and contact skills are elite for a catcher and the power is growing. I wouldn’t be surprised if he takes a big step forward this year, but I don’t want to pay for it yet.
I love Kirk, but I’m afraid the addition of Belt will take away some of his opportunities to spawn extra plates at DH. That being said, few catchers have his skills at the plate and I’m willing to bet them and hope Toronto continues to give him as many opportunities as possible.
Melendez is another plate-like monster that has fantastic power, but struggles to make enough contact to fully unlock it. That being said, he should play so much that at worst he is a great accumulator at position and at best could jump to the top of the level.
Thoughts on Level 4
Sean Murphy led all catchers in plate appearances last season, but I doubt he can do it again since he won’t be the only great player on the team like he was in Oakland last season. last year. That being said, I think the Braves will find ways to get him into the lineup as much as they can and he should get a nice boost from the park and the lineup around him.
Tyler Stephenson hasn’t lived up to his prospect pedigree, but his seasons have been scrappy due to injury. I still believe there is a good amount of power in the bat and the contact skills have been great for a catcher. Recent reports say the Reds would like him to play 140-150 games between catching, first base and DH, but I think that’s pretty ambitious given his injury record, but if he does , he could be a monster.
William Contreras should now have 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 his power at the post make him attractive at the post.
Thoughts on Level 5
I think Cal Raleigh is what he is at this point, a big power bat that will gut your average. It’s hard not to like him as a player with a nickname like Big Dumper, but I’d much rather have a guy from the previous level or a guy who won’t kill my average.
Jansen is the most likely guy in this tier and below to jump into higher tiers, but I’m now questioning his upside-down plate appearance with Belt in tow. He was so good in the second half that I’d be surprised if the Jays didn’t find a way to maximize his opportunities, which makes him pretty safe with a ton of upside.
Ruiz had the best zonal contact of any catcher in baseball with at least 300 plate appearances, but there just isn’t enough power to warrant consideration in a catcher’s league. It makes sense as a high-tier C2 in deeper formats, but the advantage is limited.
Thoughts on Level 6
d’Arnaud is a very good player when he’s on the court, but between the addition of Murphy and his injury history, I wonder if he can rack up enough plate appearances to be of value.
Is Grandal washed? He sure looked like it, but I’m willing to bet on him if there’s some sort of replacement value on the wire. Reports say he’s fully healthy for spring training, so that’s a start.
Thoughts on Level 7
Vazquez is a guy who doesn’t really hurt you but doesn’t really help you either. Sometimes that’s all you’re looking for in a C2 or AL receiver only.
Is this finally the year when Campusano will be able to play? I think he will, but the defense will probably keep him from playing enough to matter in most formats. The reverse is important but there is little chance that it will reach it.
I want Bart to be good as a Giants fan and I see the potential, but he really struggled with speed and broken shots and until he gets that he won’t improve much.
I love Endy Rodriguez as an exciting prospect, but I just don’t know when he’s up and the Pirates have a history of not wanting to start guys’ clocks for as long as possible.
Nick Fortes is really interesting if he can get playing time, but with Stallings, a defensive mainstay, I think that will be a problem.
O’Hoppe is a rising prospect, but reports indicate the Angels were interested in Gary Sanchez and may even want to give Thaiss the backup job because he’s out of options. If he gets the job, he could be a fun player to field this season.
Bethancourt was a fun story last year, but I just don’t know if I’m buying it so I can postpone much of it 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. He needs a job first.
Jonah Heim was really good but completely fell apart in the second half. If he regains his form in the first half, he could be a huge boon.
Moreno is a top prospect, but I fear sharing the role with Kelly will limit his upside for this year.
Jose Trevino was another fun story in 2023 and he should play enough and shouldn’t really hurt you, which is something for a low-end C2.
I want Stassi to get good again, but injuries have taken their toll on him and it wouldn’t be surprising if he ends up being an afterthought with O’Hoppe and Thaiss as options.