The Rockies surprised many people when they demoted to Chris Iannetta to Triple-A after just 30 AB.  Granted, he had struggled badly, with just four hits, but it was such a small sample size that it was impossible to draw any definite conclusions.

In nine games at Triple-A, Iannetta has shown why he was considered a viable fantasy catcher by posting the following line:

36 At Bats
.306 Batting Average (11 Hits)
3 Home Runs
11 RBI
11 Runs
0 Stolen Bases
.390 On Base Percentage
.639 Slugging Percentage
.308 Batting Average on Balls in Play

Strikeouts were a problem early in the season in the majors (36.7 percent), but not so much in the minor leagues (19.4 percent).  His success also isn’t due to luck, it’s simply that his early struggles were just a slump.

He has hits in seven of his nine games since being sent to the minors, including four multi-hit games.  He’s scored runs in six games.  He’s driven in eight runs in his last four games.

Miguel Olivo, who was handed the full-time job upon Iannetta’s demotion, is hitting just .228 with 5 HR, 13 RBI and 13 R in 79 AB.  Can we safely say that the Rockies made an impulse decision?  At this point, it also shouldn’t be considered a certainty that Iannetta doesn’t overtake Olivo and reclaim the majority of the ABs for the season.

We all know the power Iannetta possesses (16 HR in 289 AB in ‘09) and if he can keep the strikeouts down, he should also post a solid average. 

Only two catchers have more than five home runs.  Only two catchers have 20 or more RBI.  No catcher has scored more than 16 runs.  It’s a shallow position and with his upside, Iannetta instantly becomes a viable option once he returns.

Prior to the season I had him ranked 11th among catchers, meaning I thought he was a usable option in all formats.  The demotion hasn’t changed that.  This hot stretch at Triple-A all but assures that he’ll return to the Majors Leagues in the not too distant future.  When he does, he should immediately be snatched up off the waiver wire in shallower formats (if you’re in a two-catcher league, stash him now if someone gave up on him).

What are your thoughts on Iannetta?  Is he a viable option upon his return? 

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