This year's fantasy baseball drafts have one consensus weak point - Catchers. There is quality at the very top in Russ Martin (ADP 29) and Victor Martinez (28). They are followed by 2007 disappointments Brian McCann (56) and Joe Mauer(57). From there, a two-and-a-half round wait until Joege Posada (92) is taken and another similar drop to Kenji Johjima (121).
After Johjima is taken, fantasy players appear to move into sleeper mode by grabbing Jarrod Saltalamacchia (141) and Geovany Soto (157) of the Cubs. Given the relative blandness of most catchers fantasy performances, I can't really fault anyone. But are Soto and Salty really going to be much better than Jason Varitek at #212?
That isn't the point. I wanted to mention a sleeper at catcher who plays in a hitter's ballpark and has no viable alternative competing for playing time. This well-kept secret? Philadelphia Phillies' backstop Carlos Ruiz.
As a 27-year-old rookie, Ruiz hit .259 with 6 HR and 6 SB in 374 ABs. Other than the SBs, what caught my attention are the 29 doubles he hit. With 81 games at Citizen's Bank Ballpark, there is no reason for me to believe he won't continue to hit with some authority. How many of those doubles need to turn into HRs to make Ruiz the equal of Geovany Soto? Does he need to if he steals more than handful of bases?
Keep in mind that Ruiz hit 19 HRs between AAA and the majors in 2006 and hit 17 in 2004. The ability is there. Currently, Ruiz is the 22nd catcher selected by ADP. I expect him to move upwards 50-60 spots by the time Spring Training ends.