By Derek (Mr. Fantasy) of The Sportmeisters
Fantasy Baseball time is here again and I am here to help you prepare for your upcoming draft. Let's start with the Catchers.
1. Russell Martin–Los Angeles Dodgers–Projection: .285 BA, 85 R, 16 HR, 80 RBI, 20 SB
Martin was nearly the first catcher in years to hit the 20 HR/20 SB plateau back in 2007, but came one HR short. Last year, his production dipped a bit, but I wouldn't hesitate to take him as the first catcher because of his potential on all fields. He can hit for average, power, and steal you 15+ bases. He also has 3B eligibility, making him an even more attractive pick. Look for Martin to go within the first 6 rounds, so if you want him you better grab him early, but not before the 3rd round.
2. Brian McCann–Atlanta Braves–Projection: .300 BA, 70 R, 24 HR, 95 RBI, 3 SB
McCann and Martin are nearly neck and neck for the number one spot on my list, but I gave the edge to Martin for his ability to steal bases. However, McCann has the power edge and is projected to have more home runs and RBI's. Atlanta signed an actual backup in David Ross, so it may cut into his playing time, but McCann should still get 475-510 AB's and should produce. Expect him to go around the same time as Martin.
3. Joe Mauer–Minnesota Twins–Projection: .320 BA, 95 R, 8 HR, 82 RBI, 3 SB
Mauer finishes the elite three at the catcher position. He hit .328 last year and won his second batting title. He will continue to get the majority of the AB's as Minnesota has no real backup. He won't hit many home runs, but will continue to provide batting average and RBI's. Feel free to grab him within the first 6 rounds, if he is still available.
4. Victor Martinez–Cleveland Indians–Projection: .300 BA, 70 R, 22 HR, 90 RBI, 1 SB
Martinez is coming off an injury-plagued season and a lot of people are doubting that he can play as well as he has in the past. This year, he will prove that he can. Manager Eric Wedge has already said he wants Martinez in the lineup almost every game, either at catcher, first base, or DH. Martinez should bounce back and I wouldn't hesitate to draft him if the other three are off the board.
5. Geovany Soto–Chicago Cubs–Projection: .290 BA, 72 R, 26 HR, 92 RBI, 1 SB
Soto is the reigning NL Rookie Of The Year and should repeat those numbers this year. He plays in hitter friendly Wrigley Field and has a tremendous lineup around him. Soto and Martinez are neck and neck for the spot right outside the elite three, and you wouldn't be wrong if you choose Soto. Be careful, however, as Soto may be taken before you get the chance.
6. Jorge Posada–New York Yankees–Projection: .290 BA, 70 R, 18 HR, 80 RBI, 1 SB
Another guy who is coming off a down year is Posada. He only played in 51 games due to a torn labrum and rotator cuff injury. However, he has a monster lineup around him and has no real backup. He is 37 years old, but should bounce back from injury nicely. You should feel free to draft him as your number one Catcher.
7. Ryan Doumit–Pittsburgh Pirates–Projection: .285 BA, 66 R, 15 HR, 66 RBI, 1 SB
Doumit finally lived up to his potential last year, hitting .318 with 15 home runs. Pittsburgh has since traded Ronny Paulino, paving the way for Doumit to grab the bulk of the at-bats. He has some injury history though and you may hesitate to grab him due to that. However, if he falls to you in the middle rounds, go ahead and grab him.
8. Bengie Molina–San Francisco Giants–Projection: .275 BA, 50 R, 15 HR, 85 RBI, 1 SB
The oldest Molina brother is also the most consistent. In the past 4 years, he has had no worse than 15 home runs and a .276 batting average. He had 95 RBI last year and has a chance to reach similar numbers again this year. Grab him if he falls to you in the middle rounds.
9. Mike Napoli–Los Angeles Angels Of Anaheim–Projection: .250 BA, 60 R, 22 HR, 65 RBI, 5 SB
The big problem with Napoli is that he will lose at-bats to the younger, better defensive catcher Jeff Mathis. However, when he does play, he will hit homers. He had 20 home runs in only 227 at-bats last year. Hopefully he will get more playing time this season and, if he does, he should reward you with good power numbers, and maybe even a few steals.
10. Chris Iannetta–Colorado Rockies–Projection: .260 BA, 60 R, 18 HR, 74 RBI, 1 SB
Iannetta has a lot going for him this year. He plays in the best hitters park in the league, he has the starting job going into spring training, and he hit 18 home runs in only 333 at-bats last year. He is only going to be 26 this year and could do better than projected, so if he falls to you in the later rounds, go ahead and take a chance.
11. A.J. Pierzynski–Chicago White Sox–Projection: .280 BA, 62 R, 12 HR, 60 RBI, 1 SB
Here's a risky pick. He is getting up there in age and has seen his power numbers decline in recent years. However, he always gets more than 500 at-bats and should continue that trend this year. He won't be the best statistical catcher, but if you need a catcher in the later rounds, Pierzynski will be consistent.
12. Ramon Hernandez–Cincinnati Reds–Projection: .260 BA, 50 R, 15 HR, 70 RBI, 1 SB
Hernandez was moved from Baltimore to Cincinnati this offseason and that is good news for him. In Baltimore, he had a top prospect lurking over his shoulder, waiting to take his job. In Cincinnati, he has no challenger for his job and is in a hitter friendly park. He could show the power that he once had when he hit 23 home runs in 2006. Could be an interesting middle to late round pick.
13. Matt Wieters–Baltimore Orioles–Projection: .280 BA, 45 R, 15 HR, 55 RBI, 1 SB
Here is the aforementioned Baltimore catching prospect. However, they haven't quite handed him the keys to the castle yet. Baltimore signed veteran Gregg Zaun to give him some competition and he may wind up starting the year in Triple-A. However, the reward could be great if he falls to you.
14. Kelly Shoppach–Cleveland Indians–Projection: .255 BA, 65 R, 20 HR, 60 RBI, 1 SB
Shoppach's value takes a major hit with the return of Victor Martinez. However, he is expected to get at least 350 at-bats and, in that same amount last year he hit 21 home runs. With Martinez playing some at 1B and DH, Shoppach should see more playing time and should put up similar numbers. He's worth a middle to late round flyer.
15. Kenji Johjima–Seattle Mariners–Projection: .270 BA, 50 R, 15 HR, 60 RBI, 2 SB
This is my sleeper pick at this position. Coming off a miserable 2008 season in which he hit just .227 with 7 Home Runs, Johjima will fall in most drafts. However, they plan to use Jeff Clement at DH and just signed Ken Griffey Jr., who still has some pop left in his bat. Johjima could have a bounce back year, if he gets the expected 400+ at-bats. I wouldn't be afraid to use a late round pick on him if he slides that far.