Finding a sleeper at catcher is probably the toughest position to acquire a hidden gem. That’s because catchers are more injury prone, take more time off, and, quite frankly, they usually don’t hit all that well in the first place.
Here are our 2012 fantasy baseball sleepers at the catcher position. Click this link to check out our Top 25 catcher rankings for 2012.
2012 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers — Catchers
1. Wilson Ramos, Nationals — Wilson Ramos is best known as the guy who got kidnapped in Venezuela this off-season before a daring rescue saved him. But, he may be quite more well-known in 2012 now that Pudge Rodriguez is gone. The 24-year-old’s ability to hit for power and average makes him an enticing sleeper for 2012. In just 389 at bats, Ramos hit .267 with 15 homers, 52 RBIs and 48 runs scored. He will not be pushed by backup Jesus Flores and should get the vast majority of the playing time. Based on his 2011 season, Ramos is capable of a .270 year with 20 home runs and 65 RBI in an improved Nationals lineup.
2. Salvador Perez, Royals – Royals rookie catcher Salvador Perez hit .331 with three homers, 21 RBIs and 20 runs scored in 148 at-bats during the 2011 season. Manager Ned Yost loves this young backstop and has already said that he will be the team’s No. 1 catcher at the start of 2012. While he may not hit .300 over a full season, there is plenty of potential here on a team that is stacked with young talent. While he won’t be able to match his .331 average in 158 at bats in 2011, his defense will keep him in the game. His POP times are said to be amazing and he threw out 42% of all base runners in his minor league career.
3. Willon Rosario, Rockies — Willon Rosario picked up 54 at bats last year for the Rockies and hit 3 home runs. His minor league stats in Double-A were .272/21/48/1. Rosario would likely have spent 2012 at the Triple-A level, but he is forced into duty since Eiliezer Alfonso picked up a second PED violation and received a 100 game suspension last September. Bill James projects Rosario at 250 at bats and .246/13/29/1 for 2012. Ramon Hernandez is the official starter, but he hasn’t played in more than 97 games the past three seasons for the Reds. Hence, Rosario will get his starts.
4. Nick Hundley, Padres — If Nick Hundley can ever stay healthy, he could put together some great numbers. Hundley hit .222 in the first half of the season, but he got healthy in August and hit .367 with six homers in the second half. He’s just .255 lifetime, but if he could put together a complete season without injury, he just might be an 18 homer guy, even in Petco Park. That’s not out of the question given that he’s only 28-years-old. If you can put an extra catcher on your bench, you may be able to ride Hundley until he inevitably gets hurt again.
5. Ryan Hanigan, Reds — Pairing Ryan Hanigan with Devin Mesoraco on your fantasy team is a nice handcuff situation for the catching position in deep National League only leagues. Hanigan is .275 lifetime and will finely be the main man behind the dish for the Reds since Ramon Hernandez gone. Hanigan was .267/6/31/0 last year. Watch this situation closely in Spring Training and you will have your answer.
6. Devin Mesoraco, Reds — With Ramon Hernandez gone to Colorado, Devin Mesoraco will likely share the catching duties with Ryan Hannigan who has backed up Hernandez for the past three seasons. Mesoraco’s minor league stats were .289/15/71/1 in 120 games with Louisville last year. He hit 2 homeruns as a late season call-up in just 50 at bats. In 2010, he hit 26 homers. Mesoraco was the 2007 Pennsylvania Gatorade Player of the Year while playing at Punxsutawney High School. Hannigan is a decent hitter, but our projection is that Mesoraco will ultimately get more of the playing time as the season progresses. Mesoraco could be a .260 hitter with 15 homers for the Reds in 2012. Hannigan and Mesoraco make a nice handcuff play in 2012.
7. Kurt Suzuki, Athletics — Kurt Suzuki has been the Athletics starting catcher for four years. Last year, he put up typical catcher numbers — .237/14/44/2. So, why is he a sleeper? With Josh Willingham and Hideki Matsui gone, Suzuki will move up in the lineup and get more RBI opportunities. Suzuki had similar numbers in 2010 when he was hitting higher in the lineup and knocked in 71 RBI.
8. Chris Iannetta, Angels — If you don’t worry too much about hurting your batting average and like to get a little pop from the catcher position, then Chris Iannetta is your guy. Iannetta has some proven pop and despite leaving Coors Field for Anaheim, we still like him. That’s because we don’t think much of Bobby Wilson and Hank Conger taking much playing time from him. He should get over 400 at bats in Anaheim, thus keeping a 15 home run season alive despite leaving cozy Coors Field.
9. A.J. Ellis, Dodgers — A.J. Ellis will be the starting catcher for the Dodgers this year. His backup will be 36-year-old Matt Treanor who has appeared on our site mostly because of his marriage to beach volleyball star and Baseball’s Hottest Wives finalist Misty-May Treanor. Ellis hit .304 in the minors last year, but he only went deep twice and doesn’t have a lot of home run power as he best season in the minors was just 8 long balls and that was at the Single-A level. Ellis was .271/2/16/0 in limited late season duty for LA. He’s not going to put up great power or RBI stats, but he’ll get significant at bats for you and appears that he won’t kill you in the batting average department. Ellis has a good eye and walks a lot so if you use on base percentage in your league, his value is increased. He’s a decent backup catcher selection in National League only drafts.
10. Tyler Flowers, White Sox — If Chicago falls out of the race early, Tyler Flowers may get more of a chance to prove himself. In 110 at bats last year, Flowers was .209/5/16/0. With A.J. Pierzynski becoming a free agent at the end of the season, Flowers may get some playing time at catcher or at designated hitter if Adam Dunn is as bad as he was last year. Still, there’s likely no reason to draft Flowers as he’ll likely be available on the waiver wire for most of the season unless Pierzynski unexpectedly goes down.
11. Taylor Teagarden, Orioles — Taylor Teagarden has been a top prospect for the Rangers for four seasons, but hasn’t received much of a chance. A career .262 hitter in the Minors, Teagarden has a solid arm and great makeup, and he will take the place of Craig Tatum, whom the Orioles lost on waivers to the Astros earlier this offseason. Manager Buck Showalter has indicated that he’d like to give Matt Wieters more time off so Teagarden, embedded as the clear #2 catcher, will get a chance to start on occasion. Given his lifetime .220 mark, it won’t be necessary to draft Teagarden; he’ll be available on your waiver wire.
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