Top 15 Fantasy Baseball Keepers: Catcher
The great thing about keeper leagues is that whether you're in it or out of it, you still need to keep an eye out for the future. So, today marks day one of the long-term keeper rankings position-by-position.
15. Johnathan Lucroy - Age: 24
Lucroy was well known for his advanced plate discipline and good contact skills in the minors. As he finds his comfort level in the big leagues he could become an asset to OBP leagues, but also hit for enough AVG with 10-15 home runs annually to have an impact in all formats.
14. Wilson Ramos - Age: 22
Despite having a sub-par season at triple-A this year, Ramos remains one of the brighter catching prospects in the game both offensively and defensively.
A good enough prospect that most of the analytical world though that the Twins gave up too much when they shipped him to D.C. for Matt Capps.
There is a good chance that Ramos starts 2010 with the Nationals and splits some time with Pudge Rodriguez.
13. Hank Conger - Age: 22
Conger has already hit one home run at Angel Stadium this season. It came in the Futures Game and his future in Anaheim may be as soon as this September.
He projects as an offensive minded catcher, which doesn't sit so well with Mike Scioscia, but the Angels may need his bat in 2011.
12. Chris Iannetta - Age: 27
We were expecting a breakout season from Iannetta about two years ago. Unfortunately, he hasn't been able to put it all together at the big league level yet.
The Rockies signed him to a 3-year extension this past January, so they still seem to believe in him. If everything comes together, he could turn into a Mike Napoli type with a better OBP.
11. Kurt Suzuki - Age: 26
He's not flashy or projectable, but Suzuki has been very reliable when healthy.
The A's recently signed him to a four-year, $16.25 million dollar contact, so he should be a presence in the heart of Oakland's order for years to come.
10. J.P. Arencibia - Age: 24
Arencibia was having a monster season at triple-A, but a lot of hitters put up big numbers in the Pacific Coast League. Though he did have a stellar Major League debut, going 4-for-5 with two homers.
His power is the real deal and he could churn out 20-plus home runs annually. The AVG, however, may not be anything to rely on.
9. Mike Napoli - Age: 28
The only issue going into next season will be playing time. It was made clear this season that Mike Scioscia doesn't trust Napoli behind the plate. There is also the fact that prospect Hank Conger (see #13 ranking) is just about ready to start his big league career.
Depending on what happens this offseason, Napoli's value could move in either direction.
8. Miguel Montero - Age: 27
A knee injury has kept Montero from coming anywhere close to the numbers he put up in 2009. However, he still projects as a good hitting catcher, just not one that is going to be much better than he was in 2009.
7. Victor Martinez - Age: 31
Injuries have been the one thing that have held V-Mart back in his career. He should still have three or four more productive seasons in him, but dynasty leagues might want to think about putting him up on the trade block and see what kind of return is out there.
6. Geovany Soto - Age: 27
A recent breakout in July has put Soto back on the map, but in reality he has been doing just fine all season. Lou Piniella has messed with Soto's lineup spot and playing time for the most part this season.
He's about as number one as a number one catcher can be with improved plate discipline this season and enough power to hit around 20 home runs for the next few seasons.
5. Brian McCann - Age: 26
There are few catchers in baseball that have been as reliable as McCann has over the past few seasons. Even if the AVG has fluctuated a bit, he still gets his home runs and RBI when all is said and done.
4. Buster Posey - Age 23
I knew Posey would hit for a good AVG upon his Major League arrival this season, but he has gone well beyond expectations.
That being said Posey is probably not going to hit .340-plus next season with 20 home runs. He has always projected as a catcher that could hit .300 with 15 or so homers per season and that would be a good expectation level going froward.
3. Joe Mauer - Age: 27
We saw Mauer's potential to hit for both AVG and power last season, but injuries have held him back so far in 2010. That is and will be his biggest enemy going forward.
Catcher is a rough position to start with and there are a lot of people that think the Twins will be best served long-term to move Mauer out from behind the dish or at least split his time between C/1B/DH. Unfortunately, Mauer's toughness and desire to catch and only catch may ultimately hold his keeper value back just a little.
2. Matt Wieters - Age: 24
There is something to be said for the fact that Wieters is still only 24-years-old. While his numbers are still well below expectations, he is showing signs of improvement. This season Wieters has lowered his strikeout rate while raising his walk rate and contact rate.
Sometimes it just takes players a few years to adjust to the Major Leagues. A couple examples this can be found in Delmon Young and David Price this season. My guess is that it wont take Wieters long to find his potential.
When he does breakout we're talking about the potential for some .300/30/100 seasons.
1. Carlos Santana - Age 24
Unfortunately, a nasty knee injury has ended Santana's season. If there is any good news, it's that Santana managed to avoid any "major" damage and should be out four-to-six months, which would get him back by spring training.
Santana's has a real shot at being a BETTER version of Victor Martinez in his prime hitting for both AVG and power with very good plate discipline. He's a great player to target in a keeper league trade should his owner be in contention.