Blue Jays must be happy to see Dunedin’s Danny Jansen and Max Pentecost healthy, hot and getting game reps behind the plate
Just as, “Good help is hard to find.” Finding a catcher that can hit as well as contribute offensively is hard to find. One of the major discussion points, this past offseason and into the spring, was the Toronto Blue Jays perceived lack of catching depth behind Russell Martin. One could argue losing Martin would cripple Toronto more than the loss of any other player on the roster.
A level down in Double-A, the Fisher Cats have the Blue Jays future backstop in Reese McGuire. The former Pittsburgh Pirates top catching prospect came to the Blue Jays in a 2016 Trade Deadline deal involving Drew Hutchison and Francisco Liriano. Scouts have praised McGuire for his work behind the plate; unfortunately, his bat is not major league ready.
Behind Reese McGuire, the farm system appears bare.
Max Pentecost is far from being a regular catcher thanks to a barrage of injuries which cost the former 1st round pick an entire year of development in 2015 and two years of catching development as he was used exclusively at DH with the Lansing Lugnuts in 2016.
There appears to a light at the end of the tunnel for Pentecost as he has started to see game time reps behind the plate in 2017. Granted, it is just one game, but I’ll take it.
In 8 games Pentecost is batting .324 with a pair of doubles and a pair of home runs. The Blue Jays minor league staff will be very cautious with their two-way talent. Pentecost is carrying a 7-game hit streak through April 20th and continues to show an advanced approach at the plate with a .324 OBP. Pentecost won’t see everyday reps behind the plate this season which makes the return to health of 2013 draftee, Danny Jansen, so important.
Drafted in the 16th round, Jansen had a great rookie season with the GCL Blue Jays, showing excellent strike zone awareness and earning praise for his ability to handle a pitching staff and he saw his stats improved when he was promoted to Bluefield of the Appalachian League.
His stats improved when he was promoted to Bluefield of the Appalachian League the following season. An improvement that earned him a promotion to Lansing in 2015 but on May 30th he was placed on the disabled list for the first time. Jansen would see time on the DL three more times over the next two seasons.
The DL stints limited the 22-yr-old catcher to just 53 games in 2015 and 57 games in 2016. Now, fully healthy and recently donning a new pair spectacles, Danny Jansen has gotten off to a great start. He leads the Florida State League with a .429 batting average, but hasn’t shown much power yet.
If Jansen and Pentecost can stay off the disabled list, they will challenge Reese McGuire for the title of ‘Future Catcher’ for the Toronto Blue Jays. While health appears to be the biggest hurdle to overcome for the pair, they have to continue their development behind the plate and at the plate in 2017.
*Featured Image Credit: WEBN-TV UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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