Top 10 MLB prospects 2020: Dynasty stud Adley Rutschman headlines Fantasy options at catcher

We know not every prospect delivers on his best-case scenario. Not all of them make the advancements necessary to align the theoretical with the actual. Not all of them even get the chance. The latter is especially true for catchers, who have a number of factors working against them that prospects at other positions don't.

Teams are often reluctant to turn the reins of their pitching staff over to a player with limited experience, which can create a catch-22 wherein the only escape is a position change. And if the player doesn't hit enough in the meantime, maybe he never gets that opportunity. Maybe the apprenticeship never ends but only expires, leaving him still inexperienced but no longer young enough for another team to redeem him. And even when a young catcher gets his chance and makes good on it, the physical demands of the position can prevent him from escaping the sort of timeshare that limits his Fantasy significance to that of a fringe mixed-leaguer.

It stands to reason, then, that even a deep pool of catcher prospects isn't likely to reshape the position in Fantasy. It takes that perfect combination of talent and opportunity (with the latter perhaps being the more important factor) for an impact player to emerge. Right now, though, there's a big enough surplus of offensive talent in the minors that it wouldn't take an unusual best-case conversion rate to reform the position.

The first pick in this year's draft was a catcher, Adley Rutschman, as was the second pick in last year's, Joey Bart And they're just two of the 10 names here promising enough for me to leave out notables like Miguel Amaya, Cal Raleigh, Shea Langeliers, Gabriel Moreno and Francisco Alvarez, all of whom are knocking on the door of overall top-100 lists.

Note: This list is intended for a variety of Fantasy formats and thus weighs short-term role against long-term value. Not all of these players will contribute in 2020 — most, in fact, will not — but among prospects, they're the names Fantasy owners most need to know.

1. Adley Rutschman, Orioles

Age (on opening day): 22
Where he played in 2019: Rookie, short-season Class A, low Class A
Minor-league stats: .254 (130 AB), 4 HR, 8 2B, .774 OPS, 20 BB, 27 K

He won't beat Joey Bart to the majors, in all likelihood, but Rutschman is only a year younger than Bart and expected to move fast after a decorated collegiate career that saw him drafted first overall in 2019. With no holes in his game offensively or defensively, he's considered as can't-miss as catcher prospects get and a face-of-the-franchise type for a rebuilding club.

2. Joey Bart, Giants

Age (on opening day): 23
Where he played in 2019: high Class A, Double-A
Minor-league stats: .278 (313 AB), 16 HR, .824 OPS, 21 BB, 71 K

The heir apparent for a broken-down Buster Posey would be poised to take over next year if he himself could stay healthy, but just when a big finish and strong fall league showing put to rest concerns about the broken left hand he suffered early this year, he went out and broke his right thumb. Bart has big power and no defensive drawbacks, but he's not making it easy on himself.

3. Sean Murphy, Athletics

Age (on opening day): 25
Where he played in 2019: Rookie, Triple-A, majors
Minor-league stats: .293 (150 AB), 11 HR, 8 2B, .964 OPS, 22 BB, 36 K
Major-league stats: .245 (53 AB), 4 HR, 5 2B, .899 OPS, 6 BB, 16 K 

The Athletics rode Josh Phegley as far as he could carry him, but once it became clear Murphy was past the torn meniscus that wrecked much of his 2019, they were happy to turn over catching duties to him during the heat of a playoff race. He's a defensive standout who wouldn't need to hit much to hold down a full-time job, but he has found his power stroke over the past couple years while continuing to make regular contact. 

4. Keibert Ruiz, Dodgers

Age (on opening day): 21
Where he played in 2019: Double-A, Triple-A
Minor-league stats: .261 (314 AB), 6 HR, .679 OPS, 30 BB, 22 K

Ruiz's receiving ability keeps him high in the real-world ranks, and it's true his contact rate is superhuman and a breath of fresh air in today's environment. But his lack of pop becomes all the more concerning the closer he gets to the bigs. And now that Will Smith appears to be settling in, Ruiz's future may be with another organization.

5. Daulton Varsho, Diamondbacks

Age (on opening day): 23
Where he played in 2019: Double-A
Minor-league stats: .301 (396 AB), 18 HR, 21 SB, .899 OPS, 42 BB, 63 K

Varsho continues to bolster his prospect bona fides with every step up the ladder and straight-up demolished Double-A over the final two months, batting .352 with nine homers, 11 steals and a 1.056 OPS. Speaking purely from a Fantasy perspective, he's beginning to look even more attractive than Ruiz, particularly if he doesn't back down from the base-stealing, but there are some defensive deficiencies that could shift him to the outfield.

6. Luis Campusano, Padres

Age (on opening day): 21
Where he played in 2019: high Class A
Minor-league stats: .325 (422 AB), 15 HR, 31 2B, .906 OPS, 52 BB, 57 K

Winning a batting title as catcher is a rare enough achievement, but doing so in the always hitter-friendly California League suggests that Campusano is an unusual hitting specimen. The fact he swings a 40-ounce bat is just icing on the cake. His ability to handle such a hefty piece of lumber is a testament to how strong he is, and given the quality of contact he makes with it, his stock could skyrocket in the next couple years.

7. Ronaldo Hernandez, Rays

Age (on opening day): 22
Where he played in 2019: high Class A
Minor-league stats: .265 (393 AB), 9 HR, .696 OPS, 17 BB, 65 K

Projections remain high for Hernandez even though he stumbled with his move up to high Class A, where pitchers had more of a game plan for him. He'll need to tone down his aggressive approach to get a pitch he can wallop, especially since it's his power that's going to carry him, but at least offensively, there's still Salvador Perez-like upside.

8. Andrew Knizner, Cardinals

Age (on opening day): 25
Where he played in 2019: Triple-A, majors
Minor-league stats: .276 (246 AB), 12 HR, .821 OPS, 24 BB, 37 K
Major-league stats: .226 (53 AB), 2 HR, 2 2B, .670 OPS, 4 BB, 14 K 

At 37, Yadier Molina has already defied the odds several times over, so now Knizner is trying to do what Carson Kelly couldn't and finally replace the veteran. He may have to spend a year in an understudy role, but there's enough bat to carry him, judging by the high contact rate and how consistently he hit .300 in the minors.

9. Zack Collins, White Sox

Age (on opening day): 25
Where he played in 2019: Triple-A, majors
Minor-league stats: .282 (294 AB), 19 HR, 19 2B, .951 OPS, 62 BB, 98 K
Major-league stats: .186 (86 AB), 3 HR, 3 2B, .656 OPS, 14 BB, 39 K  

Collins' prospect standing slipped as the strikeouts piled up in the years following his first-round selection, but everything changed after the White Sox gave him some big-league exposure just before the All-Star break. They wanted him to see that his overly patient approach would eat him alive in the majors, and he returned to Triple-A to hit .323 with 10 homers and a 1.072 OPS, striking out less than 20 percent of the time.

10. Sam Huff, Rangers

Age (on opening day): 22
Where he played in 2019: low Class A, high Class A
Minor-league stats: .278 (475 AB), 28 HR, 22 2B, .845 OPS, 33 BB, 154 K

Huff's 2019 began with a bang, seeing as 15 of his homers came in just 30 games before his move up to high Class A. And he indeed has easy power, generating exit velocities that invite Joey Gallo comparisons from Rangers insiders. But it's all of the strikeouts with none of the walks, which means he could quickly bottom out, particularly if he doesn't have the defensive chops to stick behind the plate.

Senior Fantasy Writer

Raised in Atlanta by a board game-loving family during the dawn of the '90s Braves dynasty, Scott White was easy prey for the Fantasy Sports, in particular Fantasy Baseball, and has devoted his adulthood... Full Bio

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