May 30, 2020

Fantasy Baseball Outlook: Top Five Catching Prospects For 2011

February 7, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

In articles such as this, many websites give readers a list of the best overall prospects at a given position, but the intention here is to focus on those prospects who are most likely to provide a significant fantasy impact during the 2011 season; therefore, a guy like Devin Mesoraco – who saw action in three minor league levels last year and is blocked in Cincinnati – is not on my list. He will likely need a full season (or season and a half) at Triple-A before making his bog league debut.

Here is my list of the five catching prospects who are likely to have the greatest impact at the major league level in 2011:

1. J.P. Arencibia, TOR
2010 performance: 301, 32 HR, 85 RBI, 0 SB, 76 R (at Triple-A Las Vegas) and .143, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 0 SB, 3 R in 35 AB in MLB (with Toronto)

The trick with ranking catching prospects is that many of them are strong at only one aspect of the game (offense or defense) or that they change positions (ie, Will Myers). Arencibia grabs the top spot because of his offensive potential and the fact that he is serviceable defensively, with a strong throwing arm.

It appears likely JP will be the Blue Jay’s starting catcher this year after free agent John Buck departed for greener pastures… at the very least, he will share the duties with Jose Molina. He hit .301, with 32 HR and 85 RBI in the hitter-friendly PCL last year. It will be interesting to watch how those numbers translate to the AL East. He should provide some decent power, but it’s entirely possible strikeouts could be a problem considering the pitching staffs he will face in the division (he had 85 K in just 420 AB last season).

2. Hank Conger, LA
2010 performance: .300, 11 HR, 49 RBI, 0 SB, 56 R (at Triple-A Salt Lake) and .172, 0 HR, 5 RBI, 0 SB, 2 R in 29 AB in MLB (with LAA)

With the trade of Mike Napoli to the Blue Jays, Conger’s competition in Los Angeles is not especially strong, and it appears likely the Angels could be planning to give him the lion’s share of the at-bats this season. He has shown good plate discipline as a prospect (he had a 126-110 K/BB ratio over the last two years).

The reigning Futures Game MVP makes consistent contact and should provide a little bit of power (maybe a dozen home runs). As with most other catching prospects, the biggest question is whether he will provide the Halos at least marginal defense behind the plate. He receives and blocks the ball well, but has just an average arm and below-average footwork.

3. Wilson Ramos, WAS
2010 performance: .258, 8 HR, 38 RBI, 1 SB, 39 R (combined stats at Triple-A Rochester and Syracuse) and .278, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 0 SB, 5 R in 79 AB in MLB (with MIN and WAS)

While Ivan Rodriguez will be the Nat’s Opening Day starter behind the plate, Ramos will see much greater playing time this season as the ballclub starts to transition to the future. Ultimately, the question will be how big a part of the future he is, as Derek Norris may be making a case that HE is the club’s catcher of the future.

Ramos was sent to Washington in the Matt Capps trade last summer. He is more of a gap hitter as opposed to a home run thumper, so his fantasy value may be marginal. He has a reputation as a plus defender, with a strong arm (he threw out 25-of-59 (49%) of potential base stealers last year).

4. Wilin Rosario, COL
2010 performance: .285, 19 HR, 52 RBI, 1 SB, 42 R (at Double-A Texas)

Colorado’s depth chart currently has Chris Iannetta and Jose Morales ahead of Rosario, but after two years of horrendous offensive production it seems very likely the Rockies may have finally given up on Iannetta. This could open the door for Rosario to become a significant part of their plans in 2011 – at least by the end of the year.

The big question is whether he is healthy after his mid-season knee surgery. In 300 ABs, he threw up some excellent offensive statistics, and the guys at Baseball America say he could hit 20-30 HR in the big leagues, so his ascension to The Show may just be a matter of his health at this point.
5. Jesus Montero, NYY
2010 performance: .289, 21 HR, 75 RBI, 0 SB, 66 R (at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre)

Montero may be the best overall catching prospect in baseball, but there is a question as to whether he will see the big leagues in 2011, so he pulled in at #5 on my list for 2011.

Russell Martin is a big question mark in my mind, therefore it seems possible Montero could be promoted to the big leagues in the second half of the year and provide a decent source of offense for the Yankees if they choose to promote him from Triple-A.

He got off to a slow start last year but finished up strong. He had an alarming increase in his strikeout rate (from 13% in 2009 to 20% last season), but that statistic is mitigated by the fact he was only 20 years old – making him one of the youngest players in the league. His power rates an 80 on the 20-to-80 scale.

He is big kid. He is lumbering behind the plate and has little in the way of the agility or footwork he will need to be an effective catcher. It is probable he’ll have to change his defensive position (left field?) or move to the DH role when he reaches the big leagues. But the Yankees seem to be holding out hope he will eventually develop into a catcher.


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