With a strong Spring Training and versatility, Jon Berti is knocking on the Toronto Blue Jays’ door.
The Toronto Blue Jays are a team that has decent depth in the infield, but they remain in a state of flux as to how that depth will be used. With Ryan Goins having a slow spring, the club could be left with a decision about whether they will be able to keep him in their organization. If he is to be the replacement for Devon Travis, he is not exactly convincing us that he’ll be sufficient.
Should Goins end up finding himself optioned, he will be exposed to waivers, where it is likely a team would be interested in claiming him. If that happens, there are options the Blue Jays could go with to mitigate this loss. Our Ryan Mueller looked into several of these options already, but there is one that stands out.
Jon Berti. Berti is having himself a Spring Training. His success isn’t on par with the league leaders, or anything, so we won’t overstate things. Instead, he’s proving to be very solid. Of the players you’ve never heard of, he just might be the closest to making an appearance in Toronto.
Drafted out of high school in the 36th round of the 2008 draft by the Oakland Athletics, Berti would re-enter the draft and be selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 18th round of the 2011 class. He would spend the next 5 years working his way up the organizational ladder. It has not been a meteoric ascent for the 27 yr old from Troy, Michigan. But, his story is more akin to the everyday experience for minor leaguers. For every Troy Tulowitzki and Aaron Sanchez, there are countless others who’s development takes the slow and steady pace.
Berti’s skill set allowed him to take this steady approach upward. Rather than presenting as an outstanding talent in one area of the game, Berti provides all around tools that often go under-appreciated. He won’t hit you a ton of home runs, which would certainly increase his notoriety. Instead, he offers versatility and speed.
Throughout his career, Berti has played second, third, left field, center and right field, with most of his time coming at the keystone position. His time was pretty evenly split last season, possibly reflecting the changing view of what the player can contribute. If you look back and combine 20012 and 2013, he served almost 2000 innings at second base, so the fact that his 2016 playing time was so spread out last year shows just how the view of him has changed.
His speed is something that the big league club could certainly benefit from, particularly with Dalton Pompey on the shelf with a concussion. Fangraphs gives his speed a value of 8 last year with the FisherCats, where he spent most of his time. For comparison, Billy Hamilton is listed as having a Spd value of 8.3 in 2016. Fangraphs also gives Berti a wSB (Stolen Bases and Caught Stealing runs above average) value of 2.2. This combination has allowed him to swipe over 200 bags in his minor league career. That kind of speed is something this club needs. Badly.
To date, Berti is getting his shot to show what he can do this spring. In 28 at bats, he has 8 hits, scored 6 runs, and stolen 2 bases. His .286 average is not eye popping, but his .375 OBP is encouraging. As stated previously, Berti will not hit a lot of home runs, but the Blue Jays have plenty of guys who can. He has been used all over the diamond this spring, which is much more valuable. Though, he will poke a few over every now and then:
Here’s a clip of a recent at bat from Berti where he strokes a double to LF. Of note are the people in the background talking about how the players aren’t big leaguers and then found Berti’s speed worth mentioning:
Should Ryan Goins depart, or an injury occur, Berti should stay close to the phone. Realistically, he would be a guy like Goins, but with more speed, versatility and good at bats. He has shown an ability to get on base (OBP of .343 in minors) and will collect his share of hits. His ability to fill in multiple spots on the roster makes him very intriguing. He is a guy who could fill in the bottom of the order, and not look out of place. All of this means that Berti is knocking on the Blue Jays door and they very well could be answering soon.
*Featured Image Credit: C Stem
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