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Top fantasy baseball catcher waiver pickups for Week 17

Chris Landers goes over their top fantasy baseball waiver wire targets going into the week of Sunday, July 23, including Endy Rodriguez and Keibert Ruiz.

Endy Rodriguez of the Pittsburgh Pirates celebrates in the dugout after hitting a solo home run during the sixth inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 22, 2023 in Anaheim, California. Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

The second half is in full swing, which means it’s long past time to hold on to any illusions that you’re going to win your league with all of your brilliant draft picks intact. It’s time to throw out what you thought you knew around draft time and make adjustments. Time to decide whether you’re in it to win it this year, and what you might need to make that happen. Time to check narrative and sentiment at the door.

Nowhere is that more true than at catcher, that most dire of fantasy positions. We’re beginning to get a sense of whose slow starts are more than a fluke and whose breakouts look like they’re for real — and who we might’ve buried a bit prematurely. So if you’re like most of us, looking for any kind of production from behind the plate, here are three backstops likely available on the waiver wire who could return surprisingly solid production down the stretch.

Fantasy baseball waiver wire: Week 17

Keibert Ruiz, C, Washington Nationals

Roster percentage: 39%

After a hot April, Ruiz went through an extended slump, hitting just .207/.254/.367 with just 13 extra-base hits across May and June. Once the calendar flipped to July, though, he’s been on a tear: The former top prospect — and one of the centerpieces of the Trea Turner/Max Scherzer deal — has slashed .306/.359/.510 with two homers, four doubles and four multi-hit games over his last eight. Ruiz has a plus hit tool and an elite approach at the plate — just look at the 10-pitch walk he worked against Logan Webb on Saturday — making him a great source for average. And while power will never be a central part of his game, he’s capable of doing stuff like this:

Endy Rodriguez, C, Pittsburgh Pirates

Roster percentage: 1.6%

Henry Davis isn’t the only top catching prospect in Pittsburgh. Rodriguez, MLB Pipeline’s No. 35 overall prospect, got the call last week, and he just popped his first career homer on Saturday against the Angels:

Rodriguez seems to have supplanted Austin Hedges as the primary starter, and with the ability to play the outfield and even second base in a pinch, there should be no shortage of playing time for him. The rookie saw a drop in power in his first extended look at Triple-A, homering only six times for Indianapolis over 315 plate appearances this season, but clearly the strength is there, and his consistently strong plate skills give him a reasonable chance to help with batting average and OBP.

Luis Campusano, C, San Diego Padres

Roster percentage: 0.2%

A thumb injury waylaid Campusano for the first few months of this season, but he’s back healthy now, and the Padres recently demoted Austin Nola to make room for him as their second catcher. Except, well, he might not be second for very long: He’s hit .278/.270/.472 with two homers over 37 plate appearances, while erstwhile starter Gary Sanchez is hitting .152 this month. Campusano has also seen some starts at DH, and he could wind up on the short side of a platoon there with Matt Carpenter. Given the above-average power he’s shown in the Minors (.473 career SLG), he carries some sneaky upside.