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Six for Saturday: Minor League Catchers

As we all know, any offense you can get from the catcher position on your fantasy team is considered a major bonus. Really, all we hope for is that the catcher(s) on the team won't do more harm than good. With that said, there are catchers out there that do add value to a fantasy team (Brian McCann, Joe Mauer), but they're few and far between.

Let's take a look at a few prospect catchers that could make at least a small impact at the MLB level in 2010, with an eye to becoming above-average contributors in 2011 or beyond.

Buster Posey | San Francisco

A lot of people were shocked when Posey was sent down to the minors after showing that his bat was MLB ready in spring training. Actually, the shock started when the club re-signed veteran Bengie Molina last off-season... In truth, if the club is going to devote the full-time job to Molina, triple-A is the best place for Posey. The prospect is athletic enough to play just about anywhere on the diamond, and the club reportedly considered keeping him as a super-utility player, but it ultimately made the right decision to allow him to catch everyday. Posey has not been catching that long, so he still has some rough edges behind the plate that need to be dulled. However, he continues to shine on offense: .367/.451/.483 in 16 triple-A games.

Carlos Santana | Cleveland

Everyone in Cleveland is wondering when Mr. Santana will finally get the call. It doesn't help that fellow rookie Lou Marson, currently the Indians' starting catcher, is hitting a paltry .097/.176/.097 in 10 games. Veteran back-up catcher Mike Redmond is also struggling. Santana, who is currently day-to-day after fouling a ball off his leg, is hitting .348/.464/.696 with four homers, 14 RBI and 10 walks (just five Ks) in 14 games. He could end up being a rare catcher that can hit for average and power, while also walking +15% of the time.

Jason Castro | Houston

Houston is going nowhere fast, so J.R. Towles (currently sporting a .533 OPS) may not have long to secure the full-time catching gig before the club looks to the future and Castro. With that said, the 23-year-old prospect is struggling a bit in triple-A right now with a line of .209/.370/.290 in 12 games. The left-handed hitter has yet to get an extra-base hit, but he does have an 11 walks to just six strikeouts. Interestingly, he's hitting just .171 against right-handed pitching.

Tyler Flowers | Chicago (AL)

It won't be easy to unseat incumbent catcher A.J. Pierzynski, but Flowers has the offensive profile to do just that. If Chicago continues to struggle, the veteran catcher could see himself traded to a contender at the deadline, which would open the full-time job to Flowers, whose bat is MLB ready. He's currently hitting .310/.431/.595 in triple-A. The catcher has a very patient approach at the plate and plus power. Chicago would be insane to re-sign Pierzynski, who wouldn't be happy with a back-up role, past 2010. But then again, General Manager Kenny Williams has been known to do some crazy things.

Jesus Montero | New York (AL)

It almost seems like it's putting too much pressure on Montero to suggest that a 20-year-old catching prospect should be in the Majors in 2010. The truth is, though, that his bat is almost MLB ready. He's currently hitting .275/.351/.471 in 51 at-bats. On the down side, he does have 10 Ks in 13 games, which is a much higher strikeout rate than normal. Of all the catchers on this list, Montero is the least likely to remain behind that plate. But with that said, Mike Piazza remained a catcher for the majority of his career, so anything is possible. It'll probably take an injury to Jorge Posada or Nick Johnson for Montero to see significant time at the MLB level in 2010.

J.P. Arencibia | Toronto

Don't forget about former No. 1 draft pick Arencibia. The ex-University of Tennessee star had a really poor season last year in triple-A but it turns out that he was dealing with some pretty serious health issues (kidney, vision), which were rectified via surgery in the off-season. Arencibia, 24, still possesses plus power for a catcher and has improved his defense to the point where he's an above-average defender. If he can get his walk rate up to the 7-10% range (which should then positively impact his batting average and other stats), he could be a valuable offensive contributor.


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