Five to Watch – C

FANFOOD_FB2014_5toW_C

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are hundreds of websites where you can get information to help you prepare for your upcoming fantasy baseball draft and season. It seems like every one of them offer rankingscheat sheets and draft guides.

In order to dominate your league you need to be familiar with a few of them. Check them outpick your favorites and have fun with your research. We will help you with our FANFOOD Fantasy Baseball Tools and new features, the FANFOOD 5 to Watch and FANFOOD goes 2 for 2.

During Spring Training, we offer 5 players from each position for you to watch and consider for your FB team. They will be ones that you may be able to find later in your draft or even off the waiver wire as the season progresses.

Once the season begins, FANFOOD goes 2 for 2 and discusses two upcoming starting pitchers scheduled for two starts. They will be our weekly picks for your team to stream (if that is your strategy).

So who are the FANFOOD 5 to Watch? Are they ones to target? Are they sleepers, studs or duds? The answer is yes and the answer is no. Simply put, they are the players that we find interesting at each position, ones you need to keep an eye on this spring before your fantasy baseball draft.

 

That all said, let’s get to it with our next 5, this time it is the Catchers, followed by some helpful links and a great recipe, Grilled Shrimp and Sausage Skewers

 

5 to Watch quick links:

[C] [1B] [2B] [3B] [SS] [OF] [SP] [RP] [Prospects]

 

FANFOOD 5 to Watch – Catchers

 

With this season’s crop of catchers, we’re seeing a few very good players, and a lot of second- and third-tier players that could be productive for our fantasy teams. We’re also seeing a good number of catchers that are getting at-bats at other positions, like first base and designated hitter.

 

The cream of the crop are Joe Mauer, Buster Posey, Carlos Santana, Brian McCann and Yadier Molina. Certainly, these guys are fine fantasy players. But only two of them, Mauer (who will play 1B but retain C eligibility) and Santana (who may also qualify at 3B and is a beast at any position), are likely to produce so far above the other guys at the position. So who are the ones to watch this spring? Here are a couple post hype sleepers, a prospect and a couple serviceable or even every day starters for your fake team.

 

 

1. Wilin Rosario

ADP #79

 

Top 80 might be a stretch, but if you don’t get one the catchers above, you can wait a couple of rounds and use “What you talkin’ bout Wilin” as your everyday starter and not look back.

 

Notes from around the web:

 

Here’s another youngster with pop who maintains a high BA. The past two seasons combined, the soon-to-be 25-year-old has hit .281, swatted 49 HR, and driven in 150 runs. And in 256 career ABs against lefties, he’s torn them up to the tune of .332/22 HR with a 1.016 OPS. Oh, and he happens to play half his games at Coors Field. Need I say more?

source | rotoballer
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Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario finished the 2013 regular season with a .292 batting average, 21 home runs, 79 RBIs, 63 runs scored and four stolen bases.Despite collecting more than 50 at-bats than he did a year ago, Rosario took a step backward in the power department in 2013. His 21 homers tied for first among catchers in the National League along with the Braves’ Evan Gattis, but the total was seven fewer than his output from the 2012 campaign. Only 10 of his homers came at home — down from the 18 he posted the previous season. If he can regain his power stroke at hitter-friendly Coors Field, he could threaten 30 home runs in 2014. That type of production makes him a solid mid-round pick in all fantasy drafts.

source | MLB.com
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Rosario proved his doubters wrong last season, as he was able to duplicate the 20 home run power again in 2013, along with driving in 70+ runs and scoring 60+ runs. Over the last two seasons, Rosario leads all fantasy catchers in home runs, hitting 49 home runs, two ahead of Mike Napoli and four ahead of Matt Wieters. He is also tied for fourth with Indians catcher Carlos Santana with 150 RBI over the same time frame, despite playing in 40-60 less games than the catchers ahead of him. The Rockies might move Rosario around this season, as there has been talk that he could play some outfield and first base in an effort to keep his power bat in the lineup on days he needs rest. This seems like a trend that many teams are using now, so expect more teams to follow suit. Rosario is one of the rare catchers who can hit for power and hit for a solid batting average, despite a very low walk rate (3.2% in 2013). He should continue to hit for power, especially since he calls Coors Field home these days. He actually hit more home runs on the road than he did at home last year, and has no platoon splits, so his power and batting average appears for real. Bid accordingly.

source | faketeams
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“Wilin is our catcher,” said Bill Geivett, the Rockies’ senior director of major league operations. “We just need to find ways to keep his bat in the lineup. He’s in a good place and has always been willing to help the team. But at his age, we don’t worry about him playing catcher.” Rosario has more home runs since debuting Sept. 6, 2011, than any other catcher, but he’s considered a liability defensively. The 24-year-old is confident he’s taking the steps necessary to improve, though, pointing out that 2013 NL MVP candidate Yadier Molina wasn’t a good hitter when he first broke into the big leagues.

source |  Michael Hurcomb | CBSsports.com
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Colorado Rockies manager Walt Weiss wants C Wilin Rosario to receive 100 more at-bats next year, which means he will play some first base.

source |  The Denver Post | Troy E. Renck
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2014 Fantasy Baseball Projections

ABRHHRRBISBBAOBPSLGOPS
4827413127893.272.305.494.799

source | KFFL
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2.  Salvador Perez

ADP #125

 

Like Wilin his ADP is a bit high. But if you are wanting to have his services as your backstop, you are probably going to have to get him by round 12, most likely as the next catcher off the board once Rosario is gone.

 

Notes from around the web:

 

Last year, the then 23-year-old Royals backstop was a popular sleeper. He didn’t turn in Mike Piazza numbers (.292 BA/13 HR/79 RBI), but he hit well enough to let us know his name will be among the Top 5 catchers very soon. He doesn’t care if he’s facing a righty or a lefty, if he’s home or on the road, or if it’s a day game or night game. So far, his stats suggest his bat doesn’t care about circumstances. At 6’3” and about 240, Perez is a linebacker with a great batting eye. Great batting eyes and linebacker strength almost always lead to monster power numbers. And he’ll back up the sexy stats with a solid .300 average. Get him and feel good about the 20-25 HR and .850+ OPS he’ll soon deliver for years.

source | rotoballer
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Royals catcher Salvador Perez finished the 2013 regular season with a .292 batting average, 13 homers, 79 RBIs and 48 runs scored. Perez rarely strikes out (110 K’s in 933 career at-bats), and his ability to make contact has allowed him to hit for average at a very young age. The 23-year-old’s ability to collect base hits and drive in runs already puts him in the second tier at his position, and he has plenty of room to grow. If he can improve on his homer total or walk rate (21 walks in 496 at-bats), Perez could see his stock rise once again in 2014.

source | MLB.com
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Royals catcher Salvador Perez spent part of his offseason playing in the Venezuelan Winter League. He hit .289 with a .385 slugging percentage, .705 OPS, one home run, eight doubles and 17 RBI in 31 games. Surprisingly, Perez didn’t spend much time behind the plate, making 22 appearances at first base. “Salvy’s going to catch the bulk of the games here, and it was more for the at-bats than anything,” assistant general manager J.J. Picollo told MLB.com. “It’s something that Salvy takes a lot of pride in, and he wanted to help his team and play down there, so it was a way to get him at-bats and not have him get beat up behind the plate.”

source | CBSsports.com
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Like Wilin Rosario, Perez doesn’t walk much (just 4.0% last season), but he adds value in the batting average, RBI and power categories. In his first full season, Perez hit .292-.323-.433 with 13 HRs, 48 runs and 79 RBI. His RBI total tied for third with Matt Wieters, ranking behind only Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy and Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina; while his .292 batting average tied for fourth with Rosario in 2013. Perez had just one bad month last season, when he hit .208 in July, but he hit .267 or higher in every other month of the season, and actually hit better in the second half of the season, .303 with 9 HRs and 41 RBI, than he did in the first half, .284 with 4 HRs and 38 RBI. Perez hits in an improving Royals lineup, so his RBI and runs total could improve a bit in 2014.

source | faketeams
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2014 Fantasy Baseball Projections

ABRHHRRBISBBAOBPSLGOPS
4925414216770.289.321.443.764

source | KFFL
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3. Jason Castro

ADP #193

 

A round or so later, you have a decision to make, do you take the W.I.E expressway or stay in the local lanes with Lucroy behine home plate for your team? Why not say no to that and wait for Jason as your starting backstop. Depending on where he hits in the batting order he will be serviceable for your squad and allow you to load up on pitching when teams are taking catching.

 

Notes from around the web:

 

Jason Castro (knee) announced Saturday that he’s fully healthy and “100 percent ready to go.”The 26-year-old backstop also noted that he began his offseason workouts in November this year, which is earlier than he has at any point in his career. He’ll look to build on a breakthrough 2013 campaign in which he slashed .276/.350/.485 with 18 homers and 56 RBI in 120 games. As long as he remains hitting in the third slot in the Astros lineup, he’ll hold a good deal of fantasy value.

source | rotoworld
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Astros catcher Jason Castro ended the 2013 regular season with a .276 batting average, 18 homers, 56 RBIs, 63 runs scored and a pair of steals. Castro enjoyed a breakout season, as he finally got a chance at regular playing time on a rebuilding Astros squad. The 26-year-old dealt with injuries in the second half, and was limited to just 138 at-bats after the All-Star break, so there is reason to believe that his numbers could go even higher next season. Castro is definitely worth a spot in mixed-league lineups, and he could rise into the second tier of catchers very soon. Dexter Fowler will hit leadoff and start in center field in 2014. 2B Jose Altuve will hit second and C Jason Castro will be in the No. 3 slot.

source | MLB.com
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The Astros are not considering moving catcher Jason Castro to first base, according to the Houston Chronicle. Castro has had some knee problems behind the plate, but the team doesn’t see any needs to panic yet. General manager Jeff Luhnow said Castro will likely be used as a designated hitter occasionally. He was utilized in a similar role last season. The team’s situation at first is unsettled, and Max Stassi is regarded as a strong catching prospect. When asked whether the team would give Castro reps at first during the spring, Luhnow said the team had not discussed that yet. Castro hit .276/.350/.485 in 435 at-bats last season.

source | CBSsports.com
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Castro just screams regression. Let’s start with his batting average. He hit .276 last year despite striking out 26.5% of the time. Of the 1,509 qualified hitters in the last decade, only 61 have had a K% of 26.5% or higher. Only four of those hitters hit .276 or better, and the average batting average of the group was .242. Castro managed the high batting average because of a .351 BABIP. To be fair, Castro has a 25.2% line drive rate in just over 1000 plate appearances, so he’s likely to continue to have an above average BABIP. He should be able to keep his batting average from killing you as a result, but every projection system expects it to drop to some degree. His power may also regress. His HR/FB rate of 16.5% would have been top 30 in the league had he qualified. Again, that was helped by good contact from Castro as he ranked 57th in average home run and fly ball distance. But it’s also likely that number regresses a bit even if it should stay above average. Heading into this season, it appears that what Jason Castro did last year was mostly for real. Given his limited experience and blah history, it’s more likely that fantasy owners won’t treat him as a legit breakout. If that happens, he’ll be undervalued with a good shot to deliver another .270 season with at least 15 homers and respectable runs and RBI if he sticks in the middle of the Astros lineup.

source | fangraphs
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2014 Fantasy Baseball Projections

ABRHHRRBISBBAOBPSLGOPS
4606512314592.267.342.437.779

source | KFFL
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4. Devin Mesoraco

ADP #270

 

If you missed out on Castro, you can wait until the end of your draft and select Mesoraco. He probably won’t be your everyday backstop, but will be a great platoon guy offering you similar numbers to that of catchers that were drafted rounds ago.

 

Notes from around the web:

 

Reds manager Bryan Price has hinted that Devin Mesoraco could be moved up in the Reds batting order for the upcoming 2014 season. With the departure of Ryan Hanigan, the 25-year-old backstop will now handle the bulk of the work behind the dish for the Reds. While he has struggled a bit with the bat during his brief major league tenure, there remains tremendous offensive potential in his bat, making him a very intriguing late round option in fantasy leagues, especially if he hits near the middle of the lineup.

source | rotoworld
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With Ryan Hanigan traded to Tampa Bay, Devin Mesoraco is expected to take over as the Reds starting catcher in 2014 — a role he tells the Cincinnati Enquirer he’s ready to fill after splitting time with Hanigan the last two seasons. “I believe that I’m an everyday catcher in the big leagues I don’t think I’ve quite played as good as I can,” he said. “I think playing every day, getting all the reps, getting that at-bats, that’s only going to help. We’ll go from there. We’ll go from there and I believe we’re going in the right direction.” Mesoraco, who was considered a top prospect when he first reached the majors in 2011, showed how he’s capable of performing in an everyday role during a 22-game stretch that Ryan Hanigan missed with a wrist injury from early July to early August. Playing in 21 of those games, Mesoraco hit .286 with four homers and an .820 OPS in 70 at-bats. “It was right after the All-Star break that Hani went down, and I’m not going to say it had to do with playing every day, but I think my comfort level at that time, I felt [more] comfortable, it was like it was my job, my team, I could go out there and be the player I feel like I can,” Mesoraco said.

source | CBSsports.com
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The most interesting newcomer to me is Devin Mesoraco. The 25-year-old Red backstop peaked as the #11 prospect overall by Baseball America in 2011, so he’s got some pedigree. Unfortunately, his defense was deemed wanting by his manager, and he went on to 589 MLB PA in the three years since he was declared ready for the bigs. He hasn’t wowed in those chances, either, slashing .225/.282/.359 overall. It feels like forever ago, but as recently as 2011, we ranked Mesoraco as the second best prospect in the Reds organization. Mesoraco went on to validate the ranking by posting a strong .375 wOBA at Triple-A, but he’s done nothing at the plate since. The good news is that he makes above average contact, so if his BABIP ever rebounds and comes anywhere close to the league average, he won’t end up being such a negative in batting average. The question of his ultimate power potential remains though, as his ISO is a disappointing .134 in about a full season’s worth of at-bats. His xHR/FB ratio of 9.5% last year basically matches his actual mark, and that’s likely lower than many expected he is capable of. With the job his for the taking, he’s an interesting post-hype sleeper who should come cheaply and offers good profit potential.

source | fangraphs
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2014 Fantasy Baseball Projections

ABRHHRRBISBBAOBPSLGOPS
391439616600.246.301.417.718

source | KFFL
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5. Travis d’Arnaud

ADP #237

 

Again, you can wait until the very end of your draft and get a decent catcher. If this is your strategy, why not wait and grab another young player with upside. Watch Travis this spring and if he has a nice camp, consider.

 

Notes from around the web:

 

Personally, I’d still probably take Montero before d’Arnaud, banking on Montero’s 2013 being the outlier that it appears to be within his career statistical profile. Aside from that, I’m comfortable valuing d’Arnaud higher than Saltalamacchia or Martin, as I see d’Arnaud producing roughly similar counting stats to those two, but with a better batting average. Of course, all of this hinges on d’Arnaud staying healthy and proving that he can adjust to major-league pitching. The way the Mets have structured their roster indicates they expect him to do just that. Sure, he could get hurt again and end up only playing in 50 games. Maybe he won’t be able to produce against top-level pitching. Or perhaps he’ll stay healthy, realize his potential, and deliver far more value than he’ll cost on draft day. I’ll take that risk over settling for a Russell Martin any day of the week. I like what I’m hearing from Mets rookie catcher Travis d’Arnaud, who said he spent the offseason working on simplifying his offensive approach after hitting a disappointing .202 in 31 games last season. He was a pretty good hitter in the minors, so there is little concern he will eventually find his footing in the majors. Look, d’Arnaud isn’t the first and won’t be the last highly touted catching prospect to struggle offensively after his promotion to the majors. Most rookie catchers are burdened with defensive responsibilities upon their promotion and don’t have the time to dedicate the attention needed to offense. But it sounds like d’Arnaud took care of that in the offseason, so maybe we will see a different hitter in 2014. As far as his Draft Day value, catcher is a deeper position than you think. You could end up with players like Matt Wieters, Salvador Perez, Evan Gattis and Wilson Ramos in the middle rounds and be happy. I’m not sure you want to go into your draft with the strategy d’Arnaud is going to be your starter. He definitely has upside, but d’Arnaud is more of a late-round Fantasy sleeper and you are probably better off bringing him off your bench in standard Head-to-Head leagues.

source | CBSsports.com
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d’Arnaud, who missed much of the 2013 season with a broken left foot, recovered from injury in time to get a late-season call-up to the Mets in mid-August. He never really got comfortable in the majors, scuffling to a .202/.286/.263 slash line in 112 plate appearances. It certainly can’t be taken as a particularly good sign, but it’s a small sample from a guy who had just recovered from a broken foot and was seeing his first major-league action. d’Arnaud was the top fantasy catcher prospect before last season, and that hasn’t changed going into 2014. In traditional roto categories, Steamer projects d’Arnaud to hit .254, with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 46 runs in 431 plate appearances. Honestly, if d’Arnaud stays healthy enough to get in the ballpark of 450 plate appearances, I’d take the over on every one of those numbers. What we have here is an elite prospect who has been handed the keys to a regular major-league job going into the season, which sounds like a pretty interesting fantasy commodity, yes? I’d say so.

source | fangraphs
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2014 Fantasy Baseball Projections

ABRHHRRBISBBAOBPSLGOPS
3873810013521.258.323.442.765

source | KFFL
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5 to Watch quick links:

[C] [1B] [2B] [3B] [SS] [OF] [SP] [RP] [Prospects]

 

 

FB2014 Player Links:

 

 

Top of Page

 

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Grilled Shrimp and Sausage Skewers

 

INGREDIENTS
3/4 cup olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, pressed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
5 teaspoons smoked paprika
4 teaspoons Sherry wine vinegar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
12 uncooked extra-large shrimp (13 to 15 per pound), peeled, deveined
12t1-inch-long pieces andouille or other fully cooked smoked sausages (such as linguiça; about 16 ounces)
12 cherry tomatoes
12 2-layer sections of red onion wedges
Nonstick vegetable oil spray

 

PREPARATION

 

Whisk oil, garlic, thyme, smoked paprika, Sherry wine vinegar, salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper in medium bowl to blend for glaze.
Transfer half of glaze to small bowl and reserve for serving.
Alternately thread shrimp, sausage pieces, cherry tomatoes, and sections of onion wedges on each of 6 long metal skewers.
Arrange skewers on large rimmed baking sheet.

Can be made up to 6 hours ahead. Cover and chill skewers and bowls of glaze separately.
Coat grill rack with nonstick spray and prepare barbecue (medium-high heat).
Brush skewers on both sides with glaze from 1 bowl.
Grill until shrimp are opaque in center, turning and brushing occasionally with more glaze, 6 to 8 minutes.
Arrange skewers on platter. Serve with remaining bowl of glaze.

 

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