Yadier Molina, Salvador Perez underrated 

February, 28, 2012
2/28/12
5:20
PM ET
The two starting major league catchers in the state of Missouri signed long-term contract extensions Monday, and while fantasy baseball owners are well aware of what St. Louis Cardinals veteran Yadier Molina can provide, I'm guessing most people don't know who Kansas City Royals youngster Salvador Perez is. Well, here's a brief primer, because while only one of them is likely to appear on a standard mixed-league roster this season -- remember, only one catcher per team needed in ESPN leagues -- the other really should matter this season as well, and for years to come.

By this point, most everyone should know what Molina brings to the table, and it's more than fantastic defense. After years of providing mostly safe batting averages, Molina smacked 14 home runs in 2011; his previous career best was eight from 2005. Molina's current ESPN catcher rank of ninth doesn't reflect the theory that his power will continue to grow, but it's not uncommon for backstops to develop this skill late. Molina is only 29. As far as keeper-league catchers go, I'd call him a relatively safe bet for the next few seasons, and a top-10 option.

[+] EnlargePerez
Tom Szczerbowski/US PresswireThe Royals signed catcher Salvador Perez to a five-year contract Monday.
Perez is likely to be a bit misjudged if you peer solely at his small sample size of 2011 production. Yes, Perez hit .331 for the Royals over 39 games, including a wild .484/.543/.742 slash line against left-handed pitching. Well, don't expect that to continue. Nobody does that. Perez is the team's starter, and he's 21 with a bright future ahead of him, and he kind of reminds me a bit of Molina, at least offensively. While the sample sizes are small, Perez has hit for average in the minors, shown some power -- but not J.P. Arencibia -type slugging -- avoided strikeouts and appeared durable. But again, he's only 21. Let's see him do it for 400 at-bats in the big leagues.

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