Top prospects: C | 1B | 2B | 3B

Catch!

That's become the emphasis at catcher again with the Mike Piazza era now well behind us. Throwing, too, though that's sort of just an offshoot of catching. Judging by who passes as a "prospect" at the position these days, teams have gone back to valuing defense above all else behind the plate.

And somewhere, Kirt Manwaring is smiling.

That doesn't mean the position offers nothing of interest to Fantasy owners, but a list of 10 might try our understanding of the word "prospect" in this flawed representation of a real-life game that we play.

Even some of the more offensive-minded prospects further down the line, like Clint Coulter and Chance Sisco (who just missed the cut), are of no help if they don't meet the defensive criteria to stick at the position.

Note: This list has been adjusted for Fantasy purposes. Though long-term potential is a factor, it's arguably less important than the player's expected role in 2015. These prospects don't all profile as superstars, but they're the names most worth knowing in Fantasy right now.

1. Blake Swihart, 22, Red Sox
Where played in 2014: Double-A, Triple-A
Minor-league stats: .293 BA (416 at-bats), 13 HR, .810 OPS, 31 BB, 80 K

Learning both to catch and switch-hit on the fly, Swihart needed some time to refine both areas but finally delivered on the hype in 2014, emerging as the game's top catcher prospect in the process. The Red Sox plan to open with the glove-only Christian Vazquez behind the plate, but Swihart should bump him to a backup role at some point.

2. Gary Sanchez, 22, Yankees
Where played in 2014: Double-A
Minor-league stats: .270 BA (429 at-bats), 13 HR, .743 OPS, 43 BB, 91 K

Sanchez is becoming a classic example of a world-class talent who may not wanted it badly enough. For as well as he swings the bat, his numbers -- specifically, his batting average and slugging percentage -- should have been better in his second taste of Double-A. At 22, he still has time.

3. Jorge Alfaro, 21, Rangers
Where played in 2014: high Class A, Double-A
Minor-league stats: .261 BA, 17 HR, 87 RBI, .763 OPS, 29 BB, 123 K

Though maybe a year behind both Swihart and Sanchez, Alfaro offers similar, if less refined, offensive potential, peaking with maybe Wilin Rosario-like numbers. Having played only 21 games at Double-A, a 2015 arrival is unlikely, but he's the Rangers' long-term plan at catcher.

4. Kevin Plawecki, 24, Mets
Where played in 2014: Double-A, Triple-A
Minor-league stats: .309 BA (376 at-bats), 11 HR, .825 OPS, 30 BB, 48 K

If Plawecki has demonstrated one thing over his minor-league career, it's that he puts the bat on the ball, often with favorable results. He might have already cracked the big-league lineup if not for the presence Travis d'Arnaud, who the Mets have at least discussed moving to another position. Stay tuned.

5. Pete O'Brien, 24, Diamondbacks
Where played in 2014: high Class A, Double-A
Minor-league stats: .271 BA (399 at-bats), 34 HR, .910 OPS, 21 BB, 111 K

While O'Brien still has questions to answer about his plate discipline and defense -- the Yankees were more or less transitioning him to first base before shipping him to Arizona in the Martin Prado deal -- there's no doubting his power. And with the Diamondbacks reportedly shopping Miguel Montero this offseason, his debut may be nigh.

6. Christian Bethancourt, 23, Braves
Where played in 2014: Triple-A, majors
Minor-league stats: .283 BA (343 at-bats), 8 HR, .716 OPS, 13 BB, 61 K
Major-league stats: .248 (113 at-bats), 3 2B, .548 OPS, 3 BB, 26 K

Bethancourt's biggest strength in real life is his arm, which should neutralize the running game and put him in contention for a Gold Glove every year. His biggest strength in Fantasy is his playing time, which figures to be regular with Evan Gattis moving either to left field or another organization. But will he hit enough to matter?

7. Austin Hedges, 22, Padres
Where played in 2014: Double-A
Minor-league stats: .225 BA (427 at-bats), 6 HR, .589 OPS, 23 BB, 89 K

Last year was a disaster offensively for Hedges, who has shown A.J. Pierzynski-like potential in the past even though his calling card remains his defense. San Antonio is a notoriously tough place to hit, though, and the scouts still give him high marks across the board, giving him plenty of catchet in dynasty leagues.

8. Jacob Realmuto, 24, Marlins
Where played in 2014: Double-A, majors
Minor-league stats: .299 BA (375 at-bats), 8 HR, 18 SB, .830 OPS, 41 BB, 59 K
Major-league stats: .241 BA (29 at-bats), .611 OPS, 1 BB, 8 K

Realmuto emerged as the Marlins' catcher of the future in 2014, adding just enough pop to an already advanced approach to make him a respectable hitter. He's seemingly blocked by Jarrod Saltalamacchia for the next two years, but the Marlins have never been shy about clearing space for up-and-comers.

9. Andrew Susac, 25, Giants
Where played in 2014: Triple-A, majors
Minor-league stats: .268 BA (213 at-bats), 10 HR, .830 OPS, 34 BB, 50 K
Major-league stats: .273 BA (88 at-bats), 3 HR, .792, 7 BB, 28 K

Susac is a finished product with the kind of power that would make him a starter for most major-league teams, but then, most major-league teams don't have Buster Posey. Barring a trade, the most Susac can hope for is the enhanced backup role he had over the last two months, bumping Posey to first base twice a week.

10. Elias Diaz, 23, Pirates
Where played in 2014: Double-A, Triple-A
Minor-league stats: .312 BA (359 at-bats), 6 HR, .786 OPS, 33 BB, 57 K

A newcomer to the prospect ranks thanks to a breakout 2014, Diaz has a chance to make an even bigger leap in 2015 with Russell Martin departed. While his defense will carry him in real life, he's sort of like Carlos Ruiz in that his contact hitting may not be enough to satisfy Fantasy owners.