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Catcher Stock Watch

With the start of every month, we like to adjust the position tiers to help guide you towards expected risers and steer you away from some of the expected fallers. But obviously, the beginning of the month doesn’t always coincide with the best time for waivers, so I thought a mid-month stock report might help put guys on your radar that may not necessarily have been there before. Or, conversely, take them off your radar to save you some aggravation. Not every catcher will be mentioned so if your favorite doesn’t appear here, it’s not a personal slight. But feel free to mention him in the comments should he actually be doing something notable. So without further ado…

Rising

Mike Zunino, SEA — So let’s lead with the most obvious here as the Mariners backstop gets a huge boost after a relatively unexpected call-up. Things were looking bleak as he struggled at Triple-A Tacoma and saw others pass by him on their way up, but the Mariners finally realized that despite some batting woes in the minors he was really their best possible option. He’s not exactly off to the best start as the strikeouts are high and the average is low, but it’s only been 22 plate appearances so let’s exhibit some patience here. He’ll make some adjustments while he cuts his teeth in the majors with full-time action.

Ryan Doumit, MIN — The batting average is down but his walk and strikeout rates have shown marked improvement and he’s on-pace to just about match last year’s totals. Dig a little deeper and you’ll also see that he has shown steady improvement each month and is finishing the first half strong. Even better is that, even with the presence of Oswaldo Arcia, Doumit isn’t losing playing time like he did back in April. People tend to overlook his in-season growth and simply look at the .240 average with just eight home runs, so you still might be able to land him for cheap.

Staying Level

Jason Castro, HOU — While his batting average and OBP have seemingly leveled off and dropped a bit here in June, he has been able to maintain a strong ISO and continues to surprise with his power production. His struggles against left-handed pitching have continued and he’ll still sit against some of the tougher southpaws, but when he’s in the lineup, he’s batting third and the run production from the Astros is suddenly not the league joke anymore. If you’ve been using him here in the first half, you can continue to ride him the rest of the way.

Chris Iannetta, LAA — To paraphrase, he is exactly who I thought he was. He’s nothing but a decent walk rate. While Iannetta may be helpful in OBP leagues (and in just that category, mind you), he doesn’t offer you much else and that fact is as evident now as it was back in April…..as it has been for some time now. If you like to treat your catchers as mere throw-aways and couldn’t care less about the position, then he’s your man. Otherwise, you need to move along.

Falling

Kurt Suzuki, WAS — He played well in the second half last year when he arrived in Washington and injuries to Wilson Ramos had him locked in as the primary catcher for the Nationals to open the season. He wasn’t great, but he was moderately passable. He’s made slight improvements with his strikeout rate, but his walk rate continues to fluctuate and his OBP has dropped each month. His average is also taking a hit and he hasn’t hit a home run since April. With Ramos still needing a rehab assignment, Suzuki may finish the first half as the starting catcher but he’s sure not opening the second half that way.

Evan Gattis, ATL — If anything, this trip to the disabled list is saving him all sorts of fantasy embarrassment and may just prolong what little trade value he has left because no one is getting to see, first-hand, the drop in playing time and subsequent slump anymore. But for those who watched closely, it was easy to see as Gattis lost a significant amount of at-bats once Brian McCann and Jason Heyward returned and was just 2-for-26 over his last 11 games. Sure, those two hits were home runs, but how many 0-for’s can you take just to get those two home runs? He’s like Happy Gilmore at the driving range before Chubbs helped him with his short game. He’s a novelty. A gimmick, if you will. Without full-time at-bats, he’s not going to develop any momentum and his power numbers will suffer.