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Will Chris Iannetta be an Elite Fantasy Catcher?

Things did not look good for Chris Iannetta when the Rockies re-signed catcher Yorvit Torrealba to a two-year deal prior to the start of the 2008 season. But Iannetta took over the starting job in mid-June and delivered 18 HR and 65 RBIs in 333 at-bats. Now, fantasy players are salivating over the prospects of a power-hitting catcher playing full time in Coors Field.

Iannetta prospered thanks to a .240 isolated slugging percentage. He had a flyball rate of 40.7 percent and when he hit the ball in the air, it left the park at an 18.2 percent rate. Iannetta destroyed lefties, batting .275/.398/.550 versus southpaws.

The big red flag surrounding Iannetta is his strikeout rate. He struck out in 27.6 percent of his at-bats last year, which would have ranked 10th in the majors if he had enough at-bats to qualify. However, Iannetta did not have such a poor contact rate in the minors. In 803 at-bats in the minors, he had a 20.7 K% and at Triple-A it was 17.1 percent.

In 2008, Iannetta hit virtually the same at home as he did on the road. He posted an .893 OPS in Coors and an .897 mark in neutral road parks. This was due to a fluke BABIP split, in which he posted just a .276 mark in his home games.

Iannetta should get around 150-200 extra at-bats next season as the Rockies’ full-time starter from the beginning of the season. Those extra plate appearances, along with an expected improvement in his Coors Field numbers, will boost him to the top half of fantasy catchers, with a chance to move into elite status if he can maintain his solid road numbers.