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Catcher Breakout Candidates

Last year we saw a couple of superstar catching prospects display their potential on the biggest stage. Buster Posey ended the year as the National League's Rookie of the Year in a major league rookie class that may go down as one of the best ever and won a World Championship. Carlos Santana's year ended quite differently with a collision at home plate that required knee surgery but not before showing us he's ready for primetime. Once a paper thin position Catcher now has 5 solid options at the top with a few players who could shuffle the rankings up a bit.

Matt Wieters - The minor league monster of 2008 has failed to live up to expectations so far in his brief career. He struggled mightily in the first half this year before turning it around somewhat in the second half. He showed skills growth as the season went on and still only 25 in May means there is reason for hope. He should see enough of an increase in production to make him a top 10 catcher with upside to hit 20 HR with a .275+ AVG.

Geovany Soto - The breakout here would be a healthy season. He has missed 117 games over the past 2 seasons and is coming off shoulder surgery that ended his year in September. Before he began having shoulder issues in July he was looking like he could make a run at a top 3 finish in the Catcher rankings. He has the power and AVG to be a force but does his body have 140 games in it?

Chris Iannetta - The Rockies showed their commitment to Iannetta by inking him to a three year deal during the offseason. Now it's up to Iannetta to prove he can run with the #1 catcher job. He hits for power and is in the right park to do so. His eye at the plate is respectable and his .234 career AVG has much to do with his .271 BABIP. He won't join the top 5 of the position for overall value due to a low AVG but he could be one of the better sources of HR.

Hank Conger - With Jeff Mathis and his glass bat the only thing standing in his way Conger should have a good opportunity to earn himself a starting job in spring training. The Futures Game MVP combines a good eye at the plate with above average power for a catcher and may be a serviceable fantasy option in 2011. He won't be a star but a .270 AVG and 10 HR is possible.

JP Arencibia - Arencibia's 2009 offseason eye surgery seemed to pay off as he slugged his way to a Pacific Coast League MVP award. With John Buck being overpaid in Florida Arencibia will get his first crack at catching everyday for the Blue Jays. He could break out for 20 HR in his rookie year but it's best to temper expectations. He strikes out too much to help in AVG and won't hit high enough in the order to be a source of R/RBI. Some time to grow will be necessary and 2011 will likely be an adjustment season but the potential is there for a 20 HR .260 AVG breakout this year.  

Jesus Montero - Montero proved his bat to be ready last year but it's his glove that's holding him back. Unless Montero is flipped for a starting pitcher he may not see much playing time in the majors in 2011. However, it's not like Jorge Posada and Russell Martin are sure things and Montero could find a few ABs at DH and C if they falter. Montero will require a watch and wait approach to see if he will get playing time. If given a shot at playing everyday he could make things a little more crowded at the top.