We’ve spent a lot of time looking at which players we should avoid, but it’s time that we start looking at the names we should be targeting.
Drafting catchers early is a risky proposition. To avoid the names like Carlos Santana, Brian McCann or Buster Posey (all of whom are going in the first five rounds), where are you going to turn?
Here are a few names that you should be able to get at a discount that are well worth targeting.
Kurt Suzuki – Oakland Athletics
He’s a player that has been heavily hyped in the past, yet has fallen completely flat the past two seasons:
- 2010 – .242, 13 HR, 71 RBI, 55 R
- 2011 – .237, 14 HR, 44 RBI, 54 R
However, he has struggled from awful luck the past two seasons (.245 and .244). Considering that he makes consistent contact (11.2 percent career strikeout rate) and hits the ball with authority (18.6 percent career line drive rate, including a 20.1 percent in ’11), there is no reason to think that he is not going to hit for a better average.
With a better lineup around him, the other numbers should improve as well. Let everyone else ignore him. You can get him for pennies on the dollar at this point, making him well worth the risk.
Salvador Perez – Kansas City Royals
Those who read the site know that Perez is my favorite late round catching option this season. The Royals are committed to playing him every day, something that already gives him an advantage over the rest of the field.
Even if his upside isn’t that of some other options (which is already debatable), he is likely to get more AB than the Devin Mesoracos or Wilin Rosarios of the world.
Perez’s .362 BABIP will not be replicated (he’s not going to hit .331 in ’12). His power is also still developing, but he’s got the size (6’3”, 230 lbs.) and is still young (he’ll turn 22 in May). He showed signs at the end of last season and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him develop into a 15 HR threat.
At the tail end of your draft, he is well worth the risk. To read my 2012 projection of Perez, click here.
Jonathan Lucroy – Milwaukee Brewers
There are three late round catchers I love this season, Lucroy being the third in line. The problem with him is that he could ultimately end up hitting eighth in the lineup, which is going to limit his potential to produce.
However, he showed how well he could produce last season (.265, 12 HR, 59 RBI, 45 R), and that was with a complete collapse in September (.188 average).
How much better would his numbers have looked if he could’ve avoided that late season swoon? Throw in the potential for a better strikeout rate (21.2 percent in ’11 vs. minor league mark of 14.1 percent) and there is an awful lot to like.
While I would prefer one of the other two options on this list, Lucroy works extremely well as a fallback option.
Other options to consider:
- Wilson Ramos – Washington Nationals: He had never shown much power in the minor leagues, but at 24 he began to blossom (15 HR in 435 AB in ’11). He has always been capable of hitting for a strong average, so if he can continue the power breakout he should prove to be a tremendous option.
- Ryan Doumit – Minnesota Twins: The bat is there, as long as he can stay healthy and on the field. Moving to the AL he could spend a lot of time at DH (or behind the plate as the Twins move Joe Mauer to keep him healthy). With at-bats comes production.
What catchers are you targeting in your draft? Are you willing to take a catcher early in the draft? Why or why not?
Make sure to check out all of our 2012 rankings: