It is exceedingly rare that a catcher comes out of nowhere and achieves fantasy value from year to year, the position is so weak that most fantasy owners know the hot prospects names (Matt Wieters) well before they reach the big leagues. I will attempt to highlight a couple late round catchers that look poised to take a step forward in 2012.
In most instances, these players will either go undrafted, or go in the late rounds of deep leagues. Just make sure you know their names, and keep an eye on them if they do hit the waiver wire, as they will have the opportunity to benefit your fantasy team in the upcoming season.
Jesus Montero – SEA
I have already written numerous articles this year on Jesus Montero as a breakout candidate. I am well aware of the odds against him, as he isn’t exactly moving to a hitter’s paradise in Seattle, and he will be surrounded by an anemic offense. I am still sold on Montero as a pure hitter, and even in Yahoo fantasy leagues, where Montero is only DH eligible at the beginning of the season, he will eventually gain catcher eligibility. His average draft position is currently 166 over at mock draft central, which means he is a 16th round pickup in 10 team leagues. Once he becomes catcher eligible, I expect him to be a top 8 catcher, and he should see more at bats than all of them since he will mostly be at DH for the Mariners, which means he will have the opportunity to be a top 5 catcher by seasons end. I will be targeting him around the 10th-12th rounds in all my fantasy leagues as I pick up some other bum to fill in at catcher until I can run Montero out there every day this year.
Salvador Perez – KC
Chances are the young backstop for the Royals will go in the final rounds or not at all in your fantasy league on draft day. Over the course of 39 games (Just under 1/4 of a season) in 2011, Perez hit .331 with 3 HR’s and 21 RBI’s. At every level of professional ball, Perez has shown an ability to hit for average, which is a rarity at the catcher position. If you are looking for a temporary fill in (lets say for Jesus Montero) you should look no further than Salvador Perez. He has the chance to become a top 10 player at his position this year, but because of a lack of power, he is being largely overlooked in fantasy baseball circles early on in the preseason. If you play in a league that starts 2 catchers he should be a top priority for you in the late rounds on draft day.
Ryan Doumit – MIN
In 2008, Doumit was a part of one of my championship rosters as he hit .318 with 15 HR’s and 69 RBI’s for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Sadly, the years following have not been as kind, and the Pirates eventually sent him packing for Minnesota. With Joe Mauer catching fewer and fewer games for the Twins, the opening is there for a catcher to have some fantasy impact. Doumit should see roughly 400 at-bats this season, and I recommend him as someone to leave alone on draft day, but to keep an eye on during the season. He has shown the ability to hit major league pitching in the past, with decent power for a catcher, and if Mauer goes down to injury Ryan could have some fantasy relevance this season. At this point, he should only be owned in AL-only leagues.
Devin Mesoraco – CIN
Mesoraco is a popular fantasy sleeper in the 2012 fantasy baseball preseason, and for pretty good reason as he looks to be a fantasy mainstay in Cincinatti for years to come. Last year at AAA he hit .289/15/71 over the course of 120 games which are solid numbers for any catcher. Since it looks like the pitching in the NL Central will be on par with most triple A clubs, he has a decent chance to post similar numbers at the major league level. He will be hitting towards the bottom of the order for the Reds, so he might not see as many RBI’s, but fantasy owners will certainly be satisfied if he can put up 15 HR’s. His current draft position in mock drafts is 243, which means he is only being selected in the deepest of formats. Unless you carry 2 catchers in your league you probably won’t need to target him on draft day, but if you have a sudden injury (a la Buster Posey 2011) he could be a solid pickup off the waiver wire.
Honorary mentions – This category is for those players that I can’t really call sleepers because their names are well known, but because they are going late in fantasy drafts they could outperform their draft ranks and have very solid and productive years in 2012.
Jonathan Lucroy – MIL
Miguel Olivo – SEA