For any league, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on some of the backups behind the plate. With the number of injuries that befall catchers each year, you never know where the next opportunity will reveal itself and enable you to grab a potentially decent bat for a traditionally weak position. Nothing eye-popping here, but if you get the opportunity to squeeze out an extra 5 HR or 15 points in batting average from your backstop(s), you’re certainly going to be better off in the long run. Here are a pair of guys you might want to keep on your radar this season…
Bobby Wilson, LAA
It has been widely known that the catcher of the future in the Angels organization is Hank Conger. However, after a fairly unproductive spring, it is obvious that Conger is headed to Triple-A, potentially for the entire season. Manager Mike Scioscia is a veteran-favoring manager and he is very comfortable with Jeff Mathis as his starter and Wilson, who has been paying his dues inside the organization since 2006, as the primary backup. But while Mathis has Scioscia’s confidence right now, Wilson’s bat and sound defensive skills could help push him up on the depth chart at some point this season.
With all due respect to the defensive job Mathis has done over the years, fantasy isn’t about defense and we have a pretty good feeling that we’ve seen his offensive ceiling. But Wilson is somewhat of an unknown. The biggest knock on him has been his health and the fact that he’s been banged up over the years hasn’t helped us get a solid look at what he can do. But this year, Wilson falls under the “best shape of his career” category, having dropped 30 pounds in the off-season while concentrating on retaining his strength during the conditioning process. He’s always been lauded for his defensive play and ability to handle a pitching staff, so if the weight loss and conditioning really do cut down on the injuries perhaps the increased playing time will follow. His call up last season gave us a sneak peek – 4 HR in 96 AB (.188 ISO) and he’s always maintained a K% much better than that of Mathis. After a nice spring, if, as a backup this year, Wilson can swing some lumber in his limited duty, he just might force Scioscia’s hand.
Wilson Ramos, WAS
Well you didn’t think Pudge was gonna catch forever, did you? In fact, his days could be numbered even more now with the way Ramos has played this spring. Sporting a spring slash line of .340/.362/.468 and a history of a solid ISO and low K% in the minors, Ramos could end up garnering the majority of playing time regardless of the fact that Ivan Rodriguez was named the Opening Day starter. His batting average in the minors has also been solid, as has his OBP and wOBA. With more of an opportunity this season, Ramos could surprise quite a number of people.
But it’s not just Ramos’ bat that is impressing the Nationals’ brass. He’s been way above average in his defensive skills and continues to build an outstanding rapport with the Nationals’ pitching staff. The added bonus of a strong bat coupled with Pudge’s lingering calf issue could turn the Opening Day nod into something just done out of respect for Rodriguez’ service time in the majors. Owned in just 1% of Yahoo leagues and 0% on ESPN, you might want to keep Ramos on your radar for when the bottom finally falls out on Pudge.
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