Yesterday I debuted our aggregate pre-season Catcher Rankings, so today I just wanted to throw out a few names of players whom I think will steadily rise through the ranks as the season progresses. Sorry to all you Carlos Santana fluffers, but I don’t feel the need to perpetuate the hype. His play will do enough of that this season. But here are a few to keep in mind:
New Bronx Bomber: Russell Martin
Now I’m not saying we’re going to see a return to the fantasy gold we were privy to back in 2007, but the move to New York should certainly be a positive one for Martin. I don’t want to get redundant here on the site, so I’ll divert you back to a great article Mike Axisa did back in December, breaking down the Yankees backstops. Some points to highlight would be Martin’s 57.0% fly ball and 20.1% line drive rates to the opposite field over the last 3 seasons to go along with Yankee Stadium’s short porch in right and the consistently high OBP in a high scoring lineup. Now Martin did miss the final 2 months of the season last year with a hip injury and he’s not quite at 100% right now, but he has already been fielding grounders and doing some agility drills. Word is that he will be catching throwing sessions later in the week and all signs point to him being completely ready for Opening Day. The looming presence of Jesus Montero and Joe Girardi’s use of Francisco Cervelli to spell Martin and keep him well rested is sure to scare off enough people on draft day. You should be able to grab him in the later rounds and watch as his game keeps Montero in Triple-A and you reap the benefits of his return value easily surpassing his draft position.
More Rookie Hype: J.P. Arencibia
If the growth that we’ve seen in the minors is any indication, the power potential here is massive. He progressed nicely from Single-A to Double-A and the little hiccup he experienced his first year in Triple-A (increased K% with a major decrease in BA) was thoroughly wiped away with his follow-up season in 2010. His ISO numbers are fantastic and you can tell that his hitting prowess is more than just luck as evidenced by his relatively normal BABIP numbers. One caveat that I should point out is the .228 average vs lefties with a .284 OBP in his two seasons in Triple-A. Those numbers could translate even worse in the majors. There will also be questions as to whether or not he can handle the rigors of catching full time in the bigs as well as how he can handle the pitching staff, but those will certainly be answered this season as the Jays will afford him every opportunity to succeed this year. Consider him a middle round pick who should, if he keeps his head on straight, put up early round pick numbers.
Steel City’s Finest: Chris Snyder
It’s hard to get noticed when you’re being pushed out of your home and your most famous baseball moment is a fractured testicle, but things could be looking up for the Pirates backstop in 2011. With the team obviously growing weary of Ryan Doumit’s chronic health issues and a little faith in Jason Jaramillo, Snyder comes in this year as the primary catcher. His sound defense and mid-level pop should keep Doumit down in a reserve role most of the time. The batting average will be tough to deal with, but his above average ISO indicates the potential for 15 HR and 50 RBI, which isn’t bad for a late round, low budget option. Not to mention, he could outproduce more expensive options such as John Jaso, Rod Barajas and Miguel Olivo which would certainly push him up in the the overall rankings.