My cheat sheets are all but completed, and it is time to start looking for the bargain players that can help make my draft a success. I shouldn’t have to tell you that the catcher position is the shallowest pool of players in the majors. You either have to commit yourself to using a first or second round pick to get the goods, i.e. Joe Mauer, or take your chances drafting Victor Martinez too early. It is the price you pay to make sure you get an elite catcher. It might be worth it to take a look at Matt Weiters this spring. The switch hitting catcher will be playing his first full season behind the plate for the Baltimore O’s. Last year Matt struggled a bit after being called up from the minors in May, but he got better, and better, and even better, as the season went on. Before the all star break, Matt batted-.259, after the break-.301..in September, he hit 3 homers, knocked in 14 runs, while batting .362! The O’s put him in the three spot for the remaining weeks of the season. When you hear him talk about his approach at the plate, and see his impressive statistical improvements, you will know why he has received numerous awards. You won’t have to use a high draft pick to get him, as he will probably be available in the middle to late rounds.
Weiters is a blue ribbon player for Baltimore and he will be given every chance to excel. He is built like Mauer, 6’ 5”, 230, and he plays half his games in Camden Yards. His structural frame suggests has plenty of power to increase his home run totals. There is only one concern. He strikes out a bit too much. However, he is a smart player, and we can at least expect that he will address that this spring. Like any other switch hitter he hits one side better than the other, hitting .248 against left handers, compared to .313 against righties. His last season totals in 354 at bats were: .288 BA, 9 HR’s, 43 RBI’s, and 35 runs scored. He has a nice defensive skill-set, so you can be sure he will get more opportunities at the plate as he is used more now than in 2009. Look for him to have some early struggles, but get more comfortable and maybe have a breakthrough campaign. He has a year of pitching-catching studies behind him, and can now focus more on his bat. It is not unreasonable to expect him to hit close to 20 homers, knock in 60-75 runs, and bring his batting average up to the .295 range. Of course the ceiling is even higher because of his age. He will be 24 in May. Like I said, watch him early spring to see where he’s at, and if it looks promising, you can draft the remainder of your infield and a couple of arms before worrying about a catcher. Hopefully he will forgo a sophomore slump, and remain a sneaky pick for 2010.