An often overlooked prospect, Blue Jays catching prospect Riley Adams could play an important role for Buffalo in 2020
I just finished reading Keegan Matheson’s Blue Jays Key Dates for 2020 (full article). Keegan listed three questions for 2020, going with:
- Which of the young kids will take the next big step?
- What is the identity of the rotation?
- Who is 1-A behind the plate?
The last question really got me thinking, not so much about the tandem of Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire; rather, it got me thinking about the depth proceeding this dynamic duo at Triple-A and Double-A.
I figured the Blue Jays would retain the services of Luke Maile. He was still in possession of a minor option and his salary after arbitration wasn’t going to be crazy. Especially when you consider the combined salary of Jansen and McGuire. However, Maile signed on with the Pittsburgh Pirates which leaves an opening in Buffalo.
Last season in Triple-A, the Buffalo Bisons had five different catchers set up behind home plate. Reese McGuire was the primary catching option, catching 71 games. When Maile went down with an oblique injury, Reese got his chance to play in the majors from July 27th until season’s end. McGuire finished with a 72 games at Triple-A and a .247BA with 7 doubles, 5HR, and a .683OPS.
Also getting reps behind home plate was Micheal De La Cruz, who caught 40 games. He finished with a .278BA, 12 doubles, 5HR, and a .823OPS. He also did not allow a single passed ball while committing 4 errors. Unfortunately, baserunners were successful in 23 out of 28 stolen base attempts with De La Cruz registering just 5 caught stealing. Patrick Cantwell (22GP), Beau Taylor (10GP), and Andres Sotillo (1GP) also caught for the Bisons.
Here’s the thing, three of the four guys listed above are now Free Agents with Taylor signing a minor league contract with Cleveland. So who is going to catch for the Buffalo Bisons?
Once again, Sotillo remains an FA. Mineo remains a FA after batting .220 with 9 doubles, 2 triples, 5HR, and a .609OPS in 83 games. Ryan Hissey retired at 25-yrs-old after just 12 games in 2019 and a .225BA, one double, a HR, and a.665OPS. This leaves us with Riley Adams.
The 23-yrs-old, former 3rd round selection, started 2019 as a member of the Advanced-A Dunedin Blue Jays. After just 19 games (.277/.434/.462) Riley Adams joined the Fisher Cats at the beginning of May. He immediately laid claim to the starting gig which may have prompted Hissey to retire (May 9th). Over the next 4 months, Adams’ bat produced well above average with a .358wOBA with a 133wRC+ in 81 games. Aside from an ugly June which saw Adams go homerless while batting just .176BA in 20 games, the Fisher Cats catcher batted above .250 in all other months.
The 6-foot-4 Adams finished with 15 doubles, 2 triples, 11HR (.181ISO), and a .258BA. Unfortunately, Riley Adams struck out 31.6% while walking 9.6%. Aside from a high number of strikeouts, Riley’s stats appear good enough to move up a level.
With Riley Adams moving up to Triple-A, the Bisons are still in need of the backup and two spots open up in New Hampshire. The NH vacancies are easily filled by promoting 21-yr-old top prospect Alejandro Kirk and former 5th rounder Christopher Bec.
While it is unlikely, I’d love to see Michael De La Cruz resigned to serve as the Herd’s backup. At 26-yrs-old, it is possible that De La Cruz is a late bloomer with the bat. It is more likely the Blue Jays snag a guy like Bobby Wilson or Rene Rivera.
The Blue Jays have excellent catching depth. The system has four catching prospects in their top 30 list. This includes Reese McGuire, Riley Adams, Alejandro Kirk, and Gabriel Moreno. McGuire is set to graduate from this list. Riley Adams and Alejandro Kirk are both Rule V eligible at the end of 2020 with Moreno becoming Rule V eligible in 2021.
Featured image credit: R.Mueller
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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.