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No Love for Salvador Perez?

While there seems to be a bit of a lull on fantasy relevant player movement right now — Eno jumped on the Twins/Willingham potential deal and sorry, but .180-hitting Kelly Shoppach to the BoSox is barely relevant in my eyes — we can continue to focus on the mock drafts that we’ve all been covering lately.  As I was going over the catcher ADP, one of the more noticeable oversights found in the FanGraphs dynasty league mock draft was Royals catcher Salvador Perez.  Granted, it was just a 12-team, one catcher league, but with so many youngsters going so early, it’s hard to imagine that out of 27 rounds and 324 players selected, there was no love for the Royals 21-year old backstop.

Perez did get a little bit of love in the 15-team Rotowire mock draft, as he went in the tail-end of the 18th round, but given the youngster’s potential, it is surprising to see so many baseball experts paying him no mind.  In fact, if you look at his overall ADP from a larger sample size, you’ll see that in leagues where he is actually drafted, he goes 13th overall amongst backstops, however, he only comes off the board in 16.3% of the 92 reporting drafts.  Even John Jaso gets drafted in 25% of them, and frankly, he’ll give about as much help to your fantasy team as I would had you drafted me.

Is it because he’s on the Royals?  Is he too young?  Is it because no one believes in the numbers he produced during his late season call-up last year?  No, he’s not going to hit for a ton of power and no, he doesn’t have anything to offer in the way of speed, but in my eyes, he’s got all the makings of being a Yadier Molina-type player — solid contact hitter with a low K%, a little bit of pop and a nice high batting average.  Who wouldn’t want that?

Obviously, last year’s sample size of 158 plate appearances isn’t large enough to determine his full abilities against major league pitching and he definitely benefited from a tasty little .362 BABIP.  But that 12.7% K-rate is right in line with his minor league totals and his .142 ISO and .361 OBP continue the growth pattern we’ve seen from him as a hitter over the last few seasons.

One of the things I like most about Perez is his above-average 84.7% contact rate.  Sure, he’s swinging at more pitches than your average hitter and he’s reaching outside the zone more than he probably should, but he does seem to have a good eye for pitch location and when he does connect, he’s hitting hard line drives — 29.2 LD%.  Yes, we’ll see some regression in that stat, but how much regression is undetermined.  As he becomes more selective in his approach at the plate and isn’t up there swinging at 53.5% of the pitches he sees, perhaps he improves, or atleast maintains, his contact rate and his LD% doesn’t drop as dramatically.

As I said, he doesn’t have the power that most people covet.  He’s not going to rake like Mike Napoli or even Matt Wieters.  But if you’re not investing a high draft pick on a top 5 backstop, you have to make a decision — do you use a middle round draft choice and go for 15 HR power in Chris Iannetta and sacrifice your batting average or do you continue to build your squad elsewhere, wait a few rounds more and pick up a more well-rounded 8-10 HR with a BA you can love?  Given his age and the fact that he looks like he’s on the way up, I’ll take Perez any day.