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News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Fantasy baseball: Royals catcher Salvador Perez is underrated gem

Salvador Perez entered Wednesday owned in 42.2 percent of the leagues on

Granted, the Royals catcher has all of 47 at-bats this season.

Look a little further, though, and you'll see the 22-year-old has batted .344 in 195 career at-bats. Since being called up to the big leagues in 2011, Perez has seven homers, 29 RBI and an .894 OPS.

This season, Perez began the year on the disabled list because of a torn knee ligament.

Since he was activated June 22, Perez is hitting .383 with nine runs, four homers, eight RBI, a 1.085 OPS and only two strikeouts in 47 at-bats.

If he's available in a league in which you compete, you should consider him an immediate starter at a very weak position.

At the All-Star break, only two catchers -- the Red Sox's Jarrod Saltalamacchia (17) and the White Sox's A.J. Pierzynski (16) -- had more than 14 home runs. Saltalamacchia is batting .235 with 72 strikeouts, and Pierzynski is already within two of his career high in homers.

The leader in RBI: Pierzynski with 49 -- one more than he had all of last season.

Perez should be considered a top-10 catcher because of his ability to hit for average, drive in runs and help you in runs scored.

He was a .287 hitter in the minor leagues, but that's deceiving when you consider he was playing rookie ball in 2007 at age 17.

Since 2010, Perez has batted .290, .283, .333 and .340 in stints at Class A, AA and AAA.

One area he didn't excel in down on the farm was home runs (one in 98 combined Triple-A at-bats in 2011 and '12, and 20 in 1,278 career minor-league at-bats).

Perez's big-league numbers indicate he could be a late bloomer (if it's possible to be such a thing at age 22) in that category going forward.

All of which is an encouraging development for a position with its share of struggling stars (we're looking at you, Carlos Santana. You, too, Alex Avila, Mike Napoli and Russell Martin).

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