Disclaimer: Not all players are eligible to play the position or weren't primarily playing at the position last season. They have been inserted into this position because our editors felt this is where they would most likely play.
PROS: In less than a full season, Martin gave the Dodgers ample reason to keep him and trade Dioner Navarro to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Martin's 10 stolen bases and four triples give him Joe Mauer-esque bonus stats for a catcher. Martin, 24, has already become a playoff-tested backstop with a bright future. He hit .281 in his minor-league career, so his average should be close to .300. He doesn't strike out too much more than he walks as well.
CONS: Martin doesn't hit for tremendous power. He hit 15 homers in High-A ball in 2004 and hasn't come close to matching that number. While he stole 10 bases last season, he was caught five times. If this number rises, the team may hold him back from stealing bases. The demand on a catcher's body could tire Martin and limit his steal attempts later in the season.
BOTTOM LINE: As far as catchers go, Martin's potential impact across the board in 5x5 leagues makes him ultra-valuable. He's ideally snagged between the 12th and 16th rounds of mixed leagues, and around the fourth or fifth round of NL-only formats.
PROS: McCann has a perfect combination of power and contact that makes him a deadly offensive presence in a maturing Atlanta lineup. The Silver Slugger Award-winning catcher was leading the NL with a .350 batting average before suffering a sprained ankle at a home plate collision in May. He hit 34 doubles along with his 24 homers (which led all Major League backstops) and drove in 93 runs. The catcher position has diminished with the talent pool aging and/or moving to different positions, so McCann is a commodity.
CONS: McCann, with just one full season under his belt, will have to prove he can repeat last year's solid season. The Braves are getting older, and outfielder Andruw Jones is slated to be a free agent after the season. This means the team could trade him if they are out of the race, which would hurt McCann's protection in the lineup.
BOTTOM LINE: McCann went in the fourth round in a couple of mock drafts KFFL participated in, so there's a buzz for McCann this season. We think his value best serves owners by taking him around the sixth round of mixed leagues.
PROS: Hitting in this lineup would increase anyone's statistics. Lo Duca is a case of "I get by with a little help from my friends." Despite being a guy who could get on base on his own pretty well, his value is raised exponentially when getting on base in front of outfielder Carlos Beltran, first baseman Carlos Delgado and the like. In 2006, Lo Duca's average jumped 35 points, his on-base percentage jumped 21 points, and his OPS skyrocketed by 69 points. It's safe to say that the Mets' juggernaut offense helped his numbers.
CONS: Lo Duca doesn't offer the power from catchers such as Martin and McCann. He is a streaky hitter.
BOTTOM LINE: Lo Duca is a mid-to-late round option, as his presence in the Mets' lineup alone warrants enough consideration if you feel like drafting a catcher so low in the draft.
PROS: Estrada was shipped from Arizona to Milwaukee for pitcher Doug Davis so the D-Backs could let young but talented catcher Miguel Montero progress. The switch-hitting Estrada will dominate playing time over the anemic Damian Miller. Estrada has hit over .300 in two of the last three seasons, and his 2006 performance earned him a spot as a finalist for Comeback Player of the Year last season.
CONS: In the last two years, Estrada has been sidelined by a bruised right hand, whiplash caused by a home-plate collision, back spasms, a stomach illness, and a quad injury. His 11 home runs last year were his career high.
BOTTOM LINE: With a young Brewers lineup, Estrada can give you somewhere around 13 home runs, and somewhere between 65-75 RBI. Make sure to have a backup plan because of his recent injury history.
PROS: In only 375 at-bats in 2006, Barrett had 53 RBI. He is a solid contact hitter who can grab around two hits a game. First baseman Derrek Lee and newcomer outfielder Alfonso Soriano will provide some more pop, increasing chances for Cubs hitters to drive in runs.
CONS: Barrett is coming off an injury-riddled 2006. He missed four games with sore biceps and triceps, and then missed the rest of the season after he was hit in the groin with a foul ball.
BOTTOM LINE: Expect Barrett's numbers to stay around the same pace with a longer season. He is in the same situation as New York Mets catcher Paul Lo Duca, and will benefit from a revamped Cubs offense.
PROS: After replacing the injured Ryan Doumit (hamstring), the Pirates' young catcher batted as high as sixth in Pittsburgh's order last season. In 129 games, Paulino provided stability at the bottom half of the lineup, partially taking the burden off the shoulders of outfielder Jason Bay and third baseman Freddy Sanchez. When Ryan Doumit threatened to take Paulino's starting time last season, manager Jim Tracy considered moving Doumit to accommodate Paulino. That confidence equals at-bats.
CONS: Paulino's power numbers are underwhelming. If Doumit goes on another power run like he did last season, Paulino will have to step up his game at the plate. The Pirates would prefer offense if they can get it, so Paulino could lose some innings if he struggles.
BOTTOM LINE: Paulino is a solid option near the end of your draft, as he could reach somewhere around 70 RBI and help in batting average, but don't worry about him until at least the 19th round. Meanwhile, keep Ryan Doumit on your radar just in case; Doumit won't have catcher eligibility in some leagues (11 games played there in 2006) to start, but could help if given the chance.
PROS: Bard will finally get the starting spot after the exit of Mike Piazza to serve as the designated hitter in Oakland. Bard hit .333 with a .409 on-base percentage in 249 at-bats over 100 games, proving that he can produce at the major-league level. Now that he won't have to worry about trying to catch knuckleballs from pitcher Woody Williams (Astros), he can focus on helping San Diego at the plate.
CONS: Bard has been a career backup, and might not possess the ability to hold the starting job. He was brought in as Tim Wakefield's knuckleball specialist in Boston last season, but failed to fulfill that role. Last season, the Padres sported a trio of backstops in Bard, Piazza, and Rob Bowen, and early reports from Padres camp have Rob Bowen starting a third of the games.
BOTTOM LINE: Bard is the most experienced of the three Padres catchers, and will get the bulk of the at-bats. But despite his solid contact numbers, he's a last resort in the end rounds. He's worth a prolonged glance in NL-only leagues.
PROS: Iannetta projects to be the starter on opening day after the team released Javy Lopez. His 2006 campaigns in Double-A Tulsa (.321, 11 HR, 26 RBI, 1.040 OPS in 156 at-bats) and Triple-A Colorado Springs (.351-3-22-.957 in 151 at-bats) ensured he is one to watch.
CONS: Iannetta doesn't have much seasoning under his belt. There may be a learning curve because of this. The team allowed former prospect J.D. Closser to continue to be overmatched at the plate, and he never panned out. They will likely not give Iannetta the same grace period.
BOTTOM LINE: Iannetta could be a sleeper pick for this season, riding the recent Coors wave of successful youth, including third baseman Garrett Atkins, outfielder Matt Holliday and outfielder Brad Hawpe. He's definitely worth a look as a late-round pick, but his draft stock should soar now that Lopez is gone.
PROS: Olivo hit 17 home runs last season, and will be a welcome source of production from the lower half of the lineup.
CONS: Olivo compiled only nine walks in 410 at-bats last season, so he's not exactly a huge threat to get on base via the free pass.
BOTTOM LINE: The Marlins' most offensively dangerous catcher, Josh Willingham, will play left field in 2007. And although Willingham patrols the outfield, Olivo was brought in for defense, and Olivo's fantasy numbers will likely back up that strategy. Olivo might be a late-round option if the catching cupboard has been cleaned out.
PROS: Molina has a three-year deal in San Francisco, which means there's less pressure on him to produce than what he experienced in his one-year stint in Toronto. His 19 homers were sixth among catchers, and gave Molina his fourth consecutive season of double-digit dingers. In fact, his 19 homers and .467 slugging percentage were both career highs.
CONS: Toronto let Molina go after his one-year deal in favor of team favorite Gregg Zaun, as the team preferred to go with one guy instead of splitting the receiving duties. One reason was likely Molina's defense, as the normally strong defender had a career-high 11 passed balls and only nailed 18 percent of the baserunners trying to steal a base. In San Francisco, catcher Eliezer Alfonzo, who slugged 12 dingers last season in split duty, is lurking behind Molina. Molina's underwhelming on-base stats (19 walks and .319 OBP) hinder his value. The 32-year-old Molina has also been held back by leg injuries for much of his career, although he was relatively problem-free in 2006.
BOTTOM LINE: Unlike his brothers Yadier and Jose, Bengie has double-digit home run pop that makes him worthy of fantasy drafting. He will have to hold off Alfonzo, but his defensive edge will allow him to keep the starting job. Draft him in the later rounds.
PROS: In 2005, Barajas led all catchers with 21 home runs. The Phillies finally have an offensive-minded backstop. He was helped by Ameriquest Field in Arlington, and this year he could receive some offensive help from Citizens Bank Park. Four Phillies catchers (Mike Lieberthal, Chris Coste, Carlos Ruiz, and the always threatening Sal Fasano) combined last season for 23 home runs. Barajas hit 11 last year, so he has potential to put up some power numbers.
CONS: Barajas' .298 OBP in 2006 doesn't give fantasy managers much hope in multiple categories. Barajas is a free-swinger who only walked 17 times last year while batting .256.
BOTTOM LINE: In this situation, Barajas could thrive. While many catchers at this level can put up mediocre numbers across the board, Barajas provides consistency with a single category. He remains a good last resort for power numbers if you have focused on other areas heavily within the first 13 rounds.
PROS: Ross hit a dinger once every 11.76 at-bats in 2006. Ross was just signed to a long-term contract and Jason LaRue was traded, so the Reds seem to be committed to having him there for awhile. He provides a chance for an instant run thanks to that long-ball power.
CONS: Like free-swinging teammate outfielder Adam Dunn, his homers are countered by his meager ability to hit for average. He might have to fight off fellow catcher Javier Valentin, whose stats in limited time would scare many starting catchers.
BOTTOM LINE: At the Great American Ball Park, Ross has a chance to put up a repeat power performance. Like Barajas, Ross is an optimal late-round power solution. Ross is most certainly worth a pickup in NL-only leagues.
PROS: In the defending World Series champion lineup, Molina can score some runs and provide some occasional pop. He's good at picking up the scraps from the heart of St. Louis' order.
CONS: Too bad his heroics in last year's NLCS Game 7 didn't count for much in regular season fantasy leagues. He batted .216 last year.
BOTTOM LINE: Molina should be a desperation pick if you need to fill the catcher's spot in the late rounds. Unless your league counts caught stealing as a category, Molina would be best suited in the post-draft free-agent pool.
PROS: A member of the Diamondbacks' elite young class of prospects, Montero can punch an early ticket to the starting catcher position with a good spring showing. He also got a taste of the big leagues last season with 16 at-bats. Montero batted .321 with seven homers in 134 at-bats. Scouts like him to take the job within the first half of the season, if not sooner.
BOTTOM LINE: Certainly worth heavy consideration in keeper leagues, but managers should use a wait-and-see approach with Montero for single-season leagues. He might be worth signing post-draft as a high-reward pickup.
PROS: The fan-favorite drove in a career-high 55 RBI last year, while competing with Matthew LeCroy for playing time.
BOTTOM LINE: Injury fill-in during the season, at best. He's not worth drafting, as he isn't a threat to put up fantasy numbers.
PROS: Ruiz was called up on three separate occasions in 2006, hitting a serviceable .261 with 3 home runs and 10 RBI. He will join a pool of three catchers with Barajas and Chris Coste.
CONS: Even if Barajas struggles, Coste will steal some innings. Manager Charlie Manuel hasn't revealed much about the backup situation, so if Ruiz struggles, he could be left at the door.
BOTTOM LINE: Managers should only draft him in the late rounds as a sleeper pick. There is a chance that he could emerge with some starting innings, but don't count on him.
CONS: David Ross's multiyear deal makes him the starting catcher, leaving Valentin in spell and part-time duties.
BOTTOM LINE: One tweak to Ross, and Valentin will be there to scoop up the power numbers. Until then, he could serve as a useful emergency signing on Ross' off days, and will continue to be the team's top pinch-hitter.
PROS: Pena has been a September callup the past two seasons, compiling a homer and driving in nine runs.
BOTTOM LINE: Not worth draft consideration barring a McCann injury.
PROS: Quintero was one of the hottest hitters in the Venezuelan Winter League, as he hit .358 over the league's first five weeks. His gun of an arm has been praised by Astros higher-ups, and could be his ticket to playing time this year.
CONS: As old as he is, catcher Brad Ausmus has become a mainstay in Houston. The veteran leader and returning Gold Glove winner will still be around pecking at Quintero's heels, keeping him in competition. Fellow prospect Hector Gimenez and journeyman Eric Munson will also compete for time behind the plate. Gimenez is widely considered to be the best offensive catcher in the organization.
BOTTOM LINE: Quintero will need to break out quickly to gain extended playing time this season, as the steady Ausmus isn't going away just yet. Expect 10 homers from Quintero this season in split duty, and adjust your analysis accordingly depending on any further preseason updates.
PROS: Early reports out of Diamondbacks camp have Snyder competing for the starting spot. The fourth-year player saw action in 113 games in 2005, so he's capable of seeing consistent playing time.
CONS: Miguel Montero was part of the reason the Diamondbacks traded Johnny Estrada, so the youngster will see his share and has a chance to grab the starter's job away from Snyder. Snyder has never been an offensive juggernaut. His 32 RBI last season were a career high.
BOTTOM LINE: The career backup will have little to no fantasy impact, as Montero will be dominating time, and Snyder was never considered a friend to fantasy owners.
PROS: Lieberthal has always been a consistent power producer from the catcher's spot, and he had four straight double-digit home run seasons before last season's injury woes. The two-time All-Star still managed to produce in his 67 games, with nine home runs and increasing his slugging percentage by 51 points.
CONS: With Russell Martin ahead of him, he doesn't have much daylight for playing time. His recent injury history has also tarnished his name the past several seasons. He played only 67 games last year; his knee problems in 2005 carried over, and after making a comeback, he suffered groin and back ailments.
BOTTOM LINE: Lieberthal is one of the most reliable backups in the league. He can give above average home run and RBI totals from such a dry position, so when he plays, he can be a threat. With Martin standing in his way, however, Lieberthal isn't worth drafting, but make sure to snag him if anything befalls the young starter.
PROS: The Astros vet will retire in Houston, and will get some playing time this year in what could be his farewell tour. Ausmus receives a chance to unleash his rare offensive spurts because manager Phil Garner still values his in-game management skills. Ausmus batted .308 against righties last season, so that works in his favor.
CONS: Ability-wise, he should have retired two years ago, and the entrance of Humberto Quintero could have Garner flipping a coin each time he fills out the lineup.
BOTTOM LINE: Ausmus has the occasional good game, but not nearly enough to draw any fantasy attention. His primary role will be to nurture the youngster, not to gain valuable fantasy statistics.
PROS: Alfonzo provided good pop last season in the Bay, including six dingers in 73 plate appearances in July. As the Giants rebuild with youth, Alfonzo could enter the mix as a starter in the next few years.
CONS: The free-swinging Alfonzo could only muster nine walks in 286 at-bats. Bengie Molina is coming off a 19-homer year, and the Giants' offense is coming off a below-average offensive season, so the team will stay with their latest acquisition.
BOTTOM LINE: For now, the arrival of Bengie Molina will keep Alfonzo on the bench for day-off duty. Alfonzo has a quick bat that could give occasionally nice numbers when he plays, and he could easily overtake Molina as Toronto Blue Jays catcher Gregg Zaun did over in the American League.
PROS: Blanco worked well with ace starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano last season, and it looks like he will keep the same role this season. Anytime a catcher has a personal gig, guaranteed at-bats follow.
CONS: Reigning All-Star Michael Barrett, when healthy, has been too consistent an offensive producer to consider Blanco relevant. Since his days with the Twins, Blanco, 35, has been more of a backup and emergency player.
BOTTOM LINE: Unless Barrett's injuries act up again in 2007, Blanco should be banished to the waiver wire.
PROS: Bowen is being given a chance to prove himself after the departure of Mike Piazza. Bowen was the odd man out in the trio of catchers last season, but will see more time this season. In May, the switch hitter scored a run in four consecutive games and five of six contests.
CONS: Bowen only went to the plate 94 times last season, and missed 14 games early on with a sprained left thumb. When pitcher Woody Williams started throwing a knuckleball, Bowen got his starts because unlike Bard, he could actually catch the pitch. However, Williams has left for the Astros, so Bowen will get less guaranteed starts. He will have to prove that he doesn't have to be a specialist catcher to earn playing time.
BOTTOM LINE: Early KFFL estimates give Bowen a third of the time behind the plate, so he will have some chance to make a case for starting down the road. He's still not draft-worthy, but with the Padres' penchant for rotating catchers, keep an eye on him if he extends the consistent run he had in 2006.
PROS: Torrealba is an experienced backup and a moderately effective spot-starter. He knocked in 43 runs last season, which provides a decent number for a catcher. He has shown power in Coors Field.
CONS: The catching logjam in Colorado severely hinders Torrealba's chances. With the highly touted Iannetta sitting in front of him, he could quickly fall out of manager Clint Hurdle's favor. Torrealba's history of shoulder issues doesn't help his chances, either.
BOTTOM LINE: Torrealba is a backup catcher and won't see enough at-bats to contribute significant numbers. He's not worth drafting.
PROS: Miller is coming off a 101-game season. This will be his third year in Milwaukee, so he's familiar with the pitchers. That is the main reason he was kept as a backup.
CONS: Miller's career best home run total was 13 back in 2001. He has never been considered an offensive weapon, and is mainly kept around for his pitching management. Johnny Estrada will eat up the majority of playing time.
BOTTOM LINE: Miller, 37, is strictly a backup that isn't worth fantasy attention.
PROS: Castro provided four homers in limited time, and is the power that compliments Lo Duca's contact prowess. Castro is one of the most solid backups in the majors.
CONS: Castro ended up on the 60-day disabled list after ribcage and knee problems hindered his performance last year, and his power is mainly a result of limited plate discipline.
BOTTOM LINE: Castro gives the Mets a reliable alternative to let Lo Duca rest, but he gives fantasy owners fleeting stats, if anything. He should be left off draft boards.
PROS: Greene has the most experience of the three catchers on the Padres' roster, having caught in 536 career games.
CONS: Reports have already confirmed that Bard and Bowen are planned to split the innings. Since he signed a minor league deal, Greene needs to have a stellar camp performance to break through. He's only played in a combined 99 games the past two seasons.
BOTTOM LINE: Greene is a non-factor heading into spring training, and might not even break through to the big team. Ignore him on draft day unless the injury bug hits the pro catching duo before you pick.
PROS: Showed some clutch ability last season, as he ended two consecutive games with walk-off hits.
CONS: He's coming off an injury to his oblique, and has only batted as high as .224 in the past three seasons.
BOTTOM LINE: Yadier Molina's defensive prowess will limit Bennett to spell duty.
PROS: To borrow a line from "The Boondock Saints" movie, the catcher position in Washington is "sorta like 7-Eleven" - not always doing business but always open. Ardoin could sneak into the starting spot, and only die-hard fantasy owners would notice.
CONS: He couldn't cut it in Colorado, so he doesn't have as much hope in pitcher-friendly RFK Stadium.
BOTTOM LINE: Ardoin is risky even as a free-agent signing.
PROS: Treanor caught starting pitcher Scott Olsen several times near the end of the season, so he could get his innings if that bond stays.
CONS: Treanor is coming off a shoulder problem that gave him a stint on the disabled list last year.
BOTTOM LINE: Other than checking out pictures of his wife, pro beach volleyball belle Misty May-Treanor, he isn't worth much attention yet. Miguel Olivo is a consistent catcher, so Treanor would have to go on an offensive breakout to grab a permanent starting spot.
PROS: Held the Pirates' starting job in early 2006 after Ryan Doumit hit the disabled list, so he has some recent experience.
BOTTOM LINE: Stuck behind Paulino and Doumit, Cota will get minimal at-bats and therefore stay off the fantasy radar.
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.
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