Highlighting top C prospects for '11

After the way Buster Posey and Carlos Santana took the majors by storm last year, exceeding their already lofty expectations by emerging as high-end Fantasy options right out of the gate, you'd think the minors wouldn't have much left to offer at the catcher position.

But you'd think wrong.

Maybe organizations now place a greater emphasis on offense at the position, or maybe these players just haven't had a chance to overstay their welcome behind the plate. Whatever the reason, catcher is deep -- so deep we actually had to leave underachiever Tyler Flowers , the 60th overall prospect entering 2010, off the list.

At least four of these prospects have a chance of following in Posey's and Santana's footsteps this year, with several others just over the horizon. If you can't find your catcher of the future in a long-term keeper league, you're not looking hard enough.

Note: This list has been adjusted for Fantasy purposes. Long-term potential is one of several factors that influence the order and is arguably less important than the player's expected role in 2011. Not every one of these players profiles as a superstar, but they're the names most worth knowing in Fantasy right now.

1. Jesus Montero , 21, Yankees
Where played in 2010: Triple-A
Minor-league stats: .289 BA, 21 HRs, 75 RBI, .870 OPS

Montero's top spot on this list hinges on the optimistic notion he'll get semi-regular at-bats in 2011. A trade might need to happen first. If he can secure a major-league job, his talent speaks for itself. Baseball America ranked him higher than both Buster Posey and Carlos Santana entering last season. He no doubt would have joined that duo in the majors if he didn't play for the Yankees, who were too busy competing to risk developing talent at the big-league level. Most organizations would have been thrilled with Montero's numbers at Triple-A last year. The Yankees, however, weren't convinced, signing Russell Martin to futher delay Montero's arrival. With longtime starter Jorge Posada undergoing knee surgery at age 39 and forced to spend the majority of his time at DH going forward, the possibility still exists for Montero to step in and lead the next generation of Yankee greats, but he might have to bide his time in the minors for now. Given the impact of Posey and Santana last year, Montero is still worth a late-round pick just in case he arrives midseason.

2. J.P. Arencibia , 25, Blue Jays
Where played in 2010: Triple-A, majors
Minor-league stats: .301 BA, 32 HRs, 85 RBI, .986 OPS
Major-league stats: .143 BA (35 at-bats), 2 HRs, 11 Ks, 2 BBs

After a rocky debut at Triple-A Las Vegas in 2009, Arencibia could do no wrong there last year, redeeming his reputation and regaining his title as catcher of the future. His four-hit, two-homer debut for the Blue Jays on Aug. 7 all but sealed the deal there. He got only one hit during the rest of his major-league stay, but he didn't get consistent enough playing time to demonstrate the full extent of his potential. That figures to change in 2011. With John Buck now with the Marlins, only career backup Jose Molina stands in Arencibia's way of regular at-bats. The Blue Jays may take it easy with the young slugger out of the gate, but they won't have him in the majors to sit on the bench. His high strikeout rate could cause his batting average to suffer, but his power potential is tops at the position and reason enough to draft him as a No. 2 catcher in mixed leagues.

3. Wil Myers , 20, Royals
Where played in 2010: Class A
Minor-league stats: .315 BA, 14 HRs, .934 OPS, 94 Ks, 85 BBs

Myers may still be a year or two from the majors, but his upside justifies his spot on this list. Besides, the Royals could get antsy waiting for him to develop behind the plate and move him to the outfield just to get his bat in the lineup sooner. Yeah, he's that good. He could develop into a consistent, .300-hitting, 30-homer threat, and his plate discipline is the stuff of MVP candidates. He's such a good hitter that you'd almost prefer he move to the outfield just so he wouldn't have to sit every fifth day at the major-league level. Myers should advance quickly through the upper minors, perhaps even competing for a major-league job in spring of 2012. His defensive concerns could delay his arrival until the summer or fall of that season, but clearly, he's well worth the wait in long-term keeper leagues.

4. Derek Norris , 22, Nationals
Where played in 2010: Class A
Minor-league stats: .235 BA (298 at-bats), 12 HRs, .838 OPS, 94 Ks, 89 BBs

Norris has similar upside to Wil Myers and is seemingly closer reaching the big leagues at age 22, but he struggled in high Class A last season, suggesting the Nationals will have to take it slowly with him going forward. They can afford to do so with fellow prospect Wilson Ramos and former prospect Jesus Flores already competing for playing time in the majors. The good news for Norris is his walk rate should make him an impact player even if he never becomes a high-end source of batting average. He compiled a .419 on-base percentage for Class A Potomac last year despite hitting only .235. His power potential makes him a potential middle-of-the-order hitter, which is rare enough at the catcher position to make Norris a hot commodity in long-term keeper leagues. The Nationals' depth at the position will likely delay his arrival until 2012.

5. Hank Conger , 23, Angels
Where played in 2010: Triple-A, majors
Minor-league stats: .300 BA, 11 HRs, .847 OPS, 58 Ks, 55 BBs
Major-league stats: .172 BA (29 at-bats), 0 HRs, 9 Ks, 5 BBs

Fantasy owners would have more reason to get excited about Conger if he had hit more than 11 homers at Triple-A Salt Lake last year. The tepid performance at a notorious hitter's park suggests he could top out as a gap hitter at the major-league level, which would be a problem if he's forced to move from behind the plate. Yes, some scouts question whether or not he can remain at the position long term. Still, he's there for now, and his natural selectivity makes him an offensive threat in the Gaby Sanchez mold. The main reason he doesn't rank higher on this list is manager Mike Scioscia's preference for defensive-minded catchers. Conger clearly doesn't fit the bill. Players like Jeff Mathis and Bobby Wilson do, as Mike Napoli , another offensive-minded catcher, knows all too well. Conger is worth drafting in AL-only leagues because of his upside, but keep in mind he could begin the year in the minors.

6. Devin Mesoraco , 22, Reds
Where played in 2010: Class A, Double-A, Triple-A
Minor-league stats: .302 BA (397 at-bats), 26 HRs, .964 OPS

The Reds selected Mesoraco with the 15th overall pick in the 2007 draft and never heard from again. At least, that was the story heading into 2010, when Mesoraco didn't even rank among the Reds' top 10 prospects, according to Baseball America. It all clicked for the 22-year-old last year as he hit for average and power in two stops up the organizational ladder. His only snag came when the Reds promoted him to Triple-A, where he hit .231 in 52 at-bats. The Reds don't have any long-term commitments at catcher, currently platooning the aging Ramon Hernandez and the uninspiring Ryan Hanigan , so if Mesoraco can adjust to Triple-A the way he adjusted everywhere else, he could earn a midseason promotion and give Fantasy owners another impact bat at a historically weak position. He's worth drafting in deeper NL-only leagues, assuming you can afford to stash him for a few months.

7. Wilson Ramos , 23, Nationals
Where played in 2010: Triple-A, majors
Minor-league stats: .258 BA (357 at-bats), 8 HRs, .671 OPS
Major-league stats: .278 (79 at-bats), 1 HR, 12 Ks, 2 BBs, .710 OPS

Ramos would rank higher on this list if he had the inside track on the starting job, as the Nationals initially planned at the beginning of the offseason. But since then, long-forgotten Jesus Flores has proven healthy in winter ball, creating a logjam at the catcher position, where the Nationals also have Ivan Rodriguez . At age 23, Ramos is probably the odd man out, especially since his numbers suggest he could use more seasoning. His complete lack of plate discipline makes him vulnerable to high-end pitching, and he has yet to develop much power. Still, he wouldn't have been the key piece in the Matt Capps deal if he didn't have upside. If he can claim a portion of the major-league job, he would have appeal even in deeper mixed leagues, but for now, you should consider him an NL-only option. Long term, he may have trouble holding off superior prospect Derek Norris .

8. Wilin Rosario , 22, Rockies
Where played in 2010: Double-A
Minor-league stats: .285 BA (270 at-bats), 19 HRs, .552 SLG, .894 OPS

In past years, Rosario's defensive ability was enough to make him a top prospect in the Rockies organization, but he turned the corner offensively at Double-A Tulsa last year, showing big-time power potential with 19 homers in about half a season. And he wasn't even playing in a hitter's league. A torn MCL midway through the season limited him to 270 at-bats and will no doubt stall his climb up the organizational ladder, but if he picks up where he left off, he'll force Chris Iannetta to start looking over his shoulder again. The Rockies have never shown much of a commitment to Iannetta, so you have to believe they won't hesitate to turn to Rosario if he starts lighting it up at Triple-A. The 22-year-old still has to work on his plate discipline, but his power would be ideal at Coors Field. You wouldn't be wrong to pick him in a long-term keeper league or even a deeper NL-only format.

9. Tony Sanchez , 22, Pirates
Where played in 2010: Class A
Minor-league stats: .314 BA (207 at-bats), 4 HRs, .416 OBP, .870 OPS

Sanchez has yet to play a game above Class A, making him a long shot to reach the majors this year. But the fourth overall pick in the 2009 draft is on the fast track and seems to possess the talent necessary to make a quick adjustment to the upper levels of the minors, demonstrating excellent strike-zone judgment and the ability to hit the ball to all fields. Really, the only skill he hasn't developed is home-run power, something that should improve as he enters his mid-20s. Defensively, he could play in the majors now, so if he continues to hit the way he has, you have to think the Pirates will keep moving him up the ladder. With Ryan Doumit falling out of favor, the only player standing in Sanchez's way is Chris Snyder , who hasn't been a model of health throughout his career. A midseason promotion is possible. Still, you're better off treating Sanchez as a long-term keeper option.

10. Lucas May , 26, Royals
Where played in 2010: Double-A, Triple-A, majors
Minor-league stats: .283 BA (375 at-bats), 16 HRs, .831 OPS
Major-league stats: .189 BA (37 at-bats), 0 HRs, 10 Ks, 0 BBs

May doesn't get the red-carpet treatment from the scouts, but his minor-league numbers suggest he has the potential to make an impact in Fantasy. And unlike a lot of the players on this list, he's guaranteed a job entering the season. With Jason Kendall out for the first couple months with a torn rotator cuff, May will split time behind the plate with Brayan Pena , a career reserve with doubles power at best. Of course, the Royals have favored Pena in the past, but if they value May as a prospect on any level, they'll give him at least a 50-50 split to begin the season, letting him prove his power will translate to the major-league level. It's probably now or never for him. He's already 26. His uncertain role and unproven track record make him more of an AL-only option entering the season, but he could earn some looks in mixed leagues if he gets off to a hot start.

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Senior Fantasy Writer

Raised in Atlanta by a board game-loving family during the dawn of the '90s Braves dynasty, Scott White was easy prey for the Fantasy Sports, in particular Fantasy Baseball, and has devoted his adulthood... Full Bio

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