Predicting 2018 Blue Jays Minor League Catchers

Join Jays From the Couch as we predict which catchers will be calling games for the Blue Jays top 4 minor league teams

 

I remember when catching prospects Travis d’Arnaud, A.J. Jimenez, Carlos Perez, and Santiago Nessy were coming through the system. I liked the odds of at least one of the four panning out.

 

d’Arnaud was shipped to the New York Mets in 2012 in the trade Blue Jays fans don’t discuss. Injuries and inconsistencies have plagued his career.

 

Jimenez saw his career derailed by injuries but continues to knock on the door as a Triple-A catcher.

 

Carlos Perez was included in the trade for JA Happ in 2012. He made his major league debut with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 2015. He appears to be a AAAA player at this point.

 

Santiago Nessy saw his development stall in AA as a member of the New York Yankees organization.

 

That’s the thing with catchers. Some catchers excel at managing a pitching staff. Some catchers are really good at controlling the running game. Some catchers have a really good bat. A catcher which can do all three is very challenging.

 

In 2017, the Blue Jays relied on veteran catchers (Raffy Lopez and Jarrod Saltalamacchia) and journeymen catchers (Mike Ohlman and Alex Monsalve) to guide the system’s top two affiliates.

 

This season, the storyline is different.

 

The Blue Jays system now has the league’s 8th ranked catching prospect, including four catchers in the system’s Top 30 Prospect list.

 

This off-season the system said goodbye to Raffy Lopez (FA), Alex Monsalve (FA), and Mike Reeves (Voluntary Retirement).

 

Buffalo Bisons

 

Danny Jansen (22)

With injuries behind him and vision corrected, Jansen was finally able to tap into his potential. Danny has the ability to get on base (.400 OBP) and hit for power (10HR and .128 to .224 ISO in 2017). He still has some developing to do behind the plate but the foundation is there. Danny is expected to play every day in Buffalo.

 

Reese McGuire (23)

McGuire’s defense is major league ready. His bat may have taken the next step after batting .295 with 6 HR and a .376 OBP in an injury-shortened 2017 season. Reese has a chance to back up Jansen in Buffalo.

 

New Hampshire Fisher Cats

 

Max Pentecost (25)

Maybe more of a DH/1B, Pentecost continues to fight the injury bug. Max Pentecost will be handled with kid gloves, getting regular days off and time as a DH. Will this be the year that Pentecost puts it all together?

 

Patrick Cantwell (27)

I see Cantwell as the go-between AAA and AA catcher. Cantwell performs well behind the plate but doesn’t have much of a bat.

 

Michael De La Cruz (24)

De La Cruz fills the role of minor league backup catcher. He hits enough to be a viable MiLB catcher and does an excellent job handling a pitching staff. He spent most of 2017 with the Dunedin Blue Jays.

 

Pause

 

There are several catchers in the lower levels which fit the role of organization fillers. These catchers typically are good defensive catchers but lack the hit tool to get regular playing time. There will be guys that move between levels and/or Extended Spring Training and/or the disabled/inactive list.

 

Any of the ‘filler’/backup’ catchers indicated below could find themselves in AAA or AA.

 

Dunedin Blue Jays

 

Ridge Smith (22)

It looks like 2016’s 12th rounder from Austin Peay State was a steal. Smith showed extra base power (15 doubles) and the ability to produce quality at-bats (23BB and 39K). Ridge threw out 23 out of 65 baserunners. He should get the majority of the time behind the plate.

 

Ryan Hissey (23)

Hissey split 2017 between Lansing (33 GP) and Dunedin (14 GP) with 3 games in NH and 2 in the GCL. I expect Hissey to start the year in with the D-Jays, splitting time with Ridge Smith but I see Hissey heading to NH before long. He could once again be asked to fill in at multiple levels.

 

Andres Sotillo (24)

Sotillo played 38 games between NH, D-Jays, and Lugnuts. This the most game he has played since 2012, so can we all agree he is an organizational backup?

 

Alberto Mineo (23)

Claimed off waivers this off-season, Mineo is expected to start the year with the D-Jays after hitting .278 with 20 doubles and 3 triples in A-Ball in 2017. The Italian born catcher is a decent catch and throw catcher and has a good chance to get regular at-bats if he can hit .270 with the D-Jays.

 

Lansing Lansing

 

Riley Adams (21)

No doubt that Adams will be the Lugnuts starting catcher on Opening Day. Adams hit .305 with 16 doubles, a triple, and 3 HR during his rookie season in Vancouver. Riley has a strong arm behind the plate but still needs to improve blocking, game calling, and pitch framing. He has above average power potential but has some swing and miss in his game.

 

Javier Hernandez (21)

A fan favorite in Vancouver and a very good defensive catcher, Hernandez will back up Riley Adams in Lansing.

 

Matt Morgan (22)

Morgan’s offensive game has yet to develop. More was expected from the talented catcher when he was selected in the 4th round of the 2014 Draft. The talent and skills are there but likely to fill the multi-level backup role until he proves otherwise. Also, a candidate to start the year in Extended Spring Training and play every day with the Canadians once the short season kicks off.

 

Owen Spiwak (22)

The Mississauga native has struggled offensively in back-to-back seasons. Spiwak has only played 54 games in the past two seasons and split 2017 between catcher (15) and DH (14).

 

Notables

 

Ryan Gold (20)

With back-to-back good seasons in Rookie Ball, Gold has a chance to head straight to Full-A in 2018. At 20-yrs-old, the Blue Jays may decide to hold Gold back to give him a little extra time to develop.

 

Yorman Rodriguez (20)

Yorman played 28 games behind the plate, 8 games at 1st, and 26 at DH. He managed to bat .346 with a .803 OPS with Bluefield. There are some question marks around his ability behind the plate but appears to be a guy to keep an eye on. Likely heading to Vancouver.

 

Hagen Danner (19)

Loads of potential, Danner is a plus defender with a plus arm. He has the potential to hit for power but really struggled with the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays in his rookie season (.160 BA with 2 HR). The Jays may decide to take it one level at a time with Danner; therefore, he may be penciled in with the Bluefield Blue Jays. I’d like to see him in Vancouver.

 

 

 

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Lover of all things Toronto Blue Jays. Blue Jays MiLB fanatic. I strive for average while stumbling onto above average. Rogers isn’t cheap. Baseball is a business. Your right, but I’m more right.

Ryan Mueller

Lover of all things Toronto Blue Jays. Blue Jays MiLB fanatic. I strive for average while stumbling onto above average. Rogers isn't cheap. Baseball is a business. Your right, but I'm more right.