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Two Late Round Fantasy Baseball Options for 2010: Catcher

Eric StashinSenior Writer IJanuary 5, 2010

ATLANTA - APRIL 10: Catcher Jesus Flores #3 of Washington Nationals sets to throw against the Atlanta Braves April 10, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Are you an owner in a two-catcher format who likes to wait until the last few rounds to fill out one or two of your catching spots?  While it’s not a strategy that I’m in favor of (which we’ll discuss soon), here are two players that are worth eyeing who are going in Round 18 or later of 12-team formats:

Jesus Flores - Washington Nationals

He was ranked 15th on my most recent catcher rankings, though he is currently the 31st catcher coming off the board according to ADP at Mock Draft Central.  While the signing of Ivan Rodriguez may cut into his playing time, he should be the No. 1 catcher, assuming he’s healthy.

A former Rule V draft pick from the Mets organization, Flores showed in 2008 how much potential he has.  That year he hit eight home runs and drove in 59 RBI in just 301 at bats.  It’s tough to project that out over a full season, as he has never been able to stay healthy for an entire season.  Additionally, the growth of Ryan Zimmerman and the presence of Adam Dunn means less RBI opportunities for a player like Flores.

Outside of playing time, his average is also a concern.  While he hit.256 back in 2008, it came courtesy of a realistic .321 BABIP.  That year he struck out 25.9 percent of the time while walking 4.7 percent.  In 2009, his strikeout rate was 28.0 percent while his walk rate was 10.6 percent.  It’s nice to see him walking more, but we need to see the strikeouts going the other way.

Basically, when you put it together he has the potential to be a similar player to Mike Napoli, who is going in the 14th round, on average.  All he needs to do is keep himself on the field, and he is a real steal for owners.

Buster Posey - San Francisco Giants

This is 2010s version of Matt Wieters, though fantasy owners are not reaching to grab him in the early rounds.  He doesn’t have the same type of power production, but he has a great eye and should be able to post a solid average.  In 131 AB at Triple-A last season he struck out 17.6 percent and walked 11.5 percent.

The power could develop, but last season he posted a flyball rate under 30 percent between Single and Triple-A.  For his minor league career (462 AB), he’s at just 29.9 percent.  Whatever you do, don’t expect impressive power numbers in 2010.

The other big question is playing time.  With Bengie Molina likely headed out of town, it’s a matter of when, not if, Posey assumes the full-time job in 2010.  While they will likely start him in Triple-A (barring a huge spring explosion), I would expect him to have the job by the All-Star Break at the latest.

His bat has been compared to Joe Mauer’s, prior to last seasons power surge, so stashing him away in a two-catcher format in the last few rounds makes perfect sense, assuming you have ample bench space to do so.  Considering the other options that will be available to you at the tail end of your draft, it makes perfect sense. 

So, you pass on Gerald Laird, you’ll be able to get a similar option off the waiver wire until Posey is ready to play.

What are your thoughts on these two options?  Are they players you want to draft?  What other options are you eyeing in the late rounds?

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