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We are in the depths of a baseball-less winter but pitchers and catchers will be reporting to camp in less than 30 days.  The minor league camp won't start until March but let's start thinking about the lineups for the 2012 season.  There is no hurry so we will do this over the next week or so.  Today I will look at the catchers.  Infielders, outfielders and starting pitchers will follow over the next few weekdays.



Catcher placement for 2012 are the easiest spots to fill.  Most of the Jays catchers had strong seasons in 2012 and promotions are obvious.

Las Vegas

Travis d'Arnaud will be the catcher and he has a few questions to answer with his play:

1. Is he fully recovered from his thumb injury?  d'Arnaud injured his thumb in the off-season laying for team USA.  He had surgery and everyone claims he is fully recovered but is there any lasting impact on his play?

2. Can he maintain his performance at AAA?  Alex Anthopoulos is often asked about his upcoming catcher battle and what he will do.  To downplay the battle and play for time, AA often mentions that JP Arencibia needed two years in AAA before he was ready for the big leagues.  I don't expect d'Arnaud to need two years in AAA, d'Arnaud is a different prospect than JPA, he is more selective at the plate and he has a good two strike approach.  I expect d'Arnaud to be ready by the end of the year.  Unless there is an injury, I wouldn't expect to see d'Arnaud in the majors until September.

Brian Jeroloman is back, after a brief escape, to provide the backup duties in Las Vegas.  Time is almost run out on his major league prospects so he needs to make a name for himself in 2012 to at least make him attractive to another team.


New Hampshire

AJ Jimenez will move up from Dunedin to New Hampshire to learn more catching insights from Sal Fasano.  Fasano and Jimenez were together in Lansing in 2010.  After a good 2010 Jimenez enjoyed a break-out 2011 showing good defense and a better eye at the plate.  As we know the offensive bar for catchers is quite low, Jimenez's ability to hit will be highly valued assuming he can keep it going in 2012.  AJ had better offensive numbers at Dunedin than did Travis d'Arnaud the previous year.  However Travis took a big leap forward in 2011, it would be a lot to expect Jimenez to do the same in 2012.

Yan Gomes is likely to return to AA as the backup.

Sean Ochinko is the wildcard.  Ochinko played reasonably well in Dunedin splitting time between catcher, first base and third base.  Third base could be full in New Hampshire but he could get time at first base.


Dunedin

Carlos Perez will be the catcher in Dunedin, remaining paired with his manager from 2011 former major league catcher Mike Redmond.  Perez had an up and down 2011, he started strong, struggled in the middle and finished a little better. In 2012 he will be back in the heat of Florida which might help his performance.  Perez's star dimmed somewhat in 2011 and the Jays hope the better hitting comes back in Dunedin.


Lansing

This is the most uncertain of the catching jobs. The closest catcher to being a top 30 prospect is Santiago Nessy but I am not sure if he is ready for the Midwest League yet. Nessy just turned 19 and played last season in Bluefield. The next logical step for Nessy is Lansing but it might wait until he is 20.

There are a raft of other catchers who could claim the Lansing jobs. Guys with experience above short season ball include Jack Murphy, Joe Bowen and Luis Hurtado. Guys with lower level experience include Pierce Rankin, Garrett Maines, Cody Bartlett, Aaron Munoz, Chris Schaeffer, Tim Mahler, George Carroll and Alexsys Rodriguez. Murphy could be assigned to Dunedin to back up Perez. Some combination of Hurtado and Bowen is most likely with Rankin or Maines being the next best bet.

Tomorrow we will have a look at first base. 

2012 Minor League Players - Catchers | 29 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
pooks137 - Monday, January 23 2012 @ 08:50 AM EST (#250950) #
Hi Gerry,

Thanks for the organizational depth charts.  Nice to get some perspective of where things stand, especially at the lower levels with relatively new draftees that are so far away.

It seems as though the Jays have been blessed with a cornucopia of catching prospects since AA took over, especially after the Halladay trade for D'Arnaud. However, I can't recall AA and Andrew Tinnish actually drafting a highly-touted catcher in the last two drafts, making me wonder if the pipeline will stop for a while after Carlos Perez.
It seems Jimenez, Perez and even Yan Gomes are JP leftovers and have been in the org for a while now.

My question would be: Are there any catchers below Lansing (other than Nessy, who is also a JP-era sign)  that could be considered prospects as opposed to org players, even if only as sleepers?

Thanks again!

Gerry - Monday, January 23 2012 @ 09:52 AM EST (#250952) #

I am not fully up to speed with the players still in the Dominican, but with that caveat there are no catching prospects other than Nessy at the lower levels.  And Nessy at this point is still a fringy prospect until he matures into his body and his playing style.

I think this is just cyclical, I don't think the Jays say " we have d'Arnaud, Jimenez and Perez, we don't need to draft catchers.".

Mike Green - Monday, January 23 2012 @ 09:59 AM EST (#250953) #
Catcher health is always a very big item.  Both Arencibia and d'Arnaud have a history of significant low back and left hand injuries.  I don't recall any injuries for Jimenez and Perez; Jimenez looks like the prototypical durable catcher and seems to have good form behind the plate, but Perez is on the slight side. 
John Northey - Monday, January 23 2012 @ 11:03 AM EST (#250955) #
Catchers always have a high risk to them. In the early 90's the Jays had Delgado & Sprague behind the plate and while both made the majors neither did so as an everyday catcher (both caught a few early on but not many). In the mid-80's there were a few who looked good, Matt Stark was a slugger while Myers looked good as did many others but only Myers had any kind of a ML catching career iirc.

Always smart to stock up on catchers and if you get a logjam you can always move them to 1B or LF or 3B depending on skill set and need with the odd one going to 2B or CF (Craig Biggio is really the only one I can think of doing that, but boy does it stand out).
pooks137 - Monday, January 23 2012 @ 11:09 AM EST (#250956) #
I don't recall any injuries for Jimenez and Perez; Jimenez looks like the prototypical durable catcher and seems to have good form behind the plate, but Perez is on the slight side.

I do remember that Jimenez was drafted later than projected due to an elbow injury a few years back, but not sure of any issues with the same since. Not sure if it was his throwing arm or if it is any cause for future concern.
sam - Monday, January 23 2012 @ 11:31 AM EST (#250958) #
I'm really interested to see how this Fielder situation plays out. Recent reports suggest the Rangers and Nationals and the Scott Boras special mystery team are the remaining contenders. The Rangers have got to be sitting pretty. If they get Fielder it'll be on their terms. It really doesn't seem like he's at all interested in going to the Nationals. Given the Nationals history with Boras, I imagine if he was interested in the Nationals, they would've had a deal done by now.
bpoz - Monday, January 23 2012 @ 11:48 AM EST (#250959) #
Yan Gomes & S Ochinko could develop into utility/3rd catcher. Ochinko is already doing this. He also had 400+ ABs in 2010 & 2011. I hope he is in NH all over the IF & gets another 400+ ABs. Gomes has good numbers with only 240-290 ABs in 3 seasons. J Talley also did not get enough ABs so far IMO.

Napoli looked good at 1B, DH & catcher. 30Hr in 396 ABs. Texas must have had a 3rd catcher.
joeblow - Monday, January 23 2012 @ 01:02 PM EST (#250960) #
Are 1B, 3B or DH the typical positions that catchers "graduate" to? Can't recall any major league catchers moving to 2B or SS but I'm sure at least some have moved to the outfield. Just thinking ahead in case good things happen and catching becomes a logjam at various levels. I can see JP at 1B in the future, though it's hard to project him as even an average 1B at the moment.
greenfrog - Monday, January 23 2012 @ 01:04 PM EST (#250961) #
It's interesting how quickly prospects' stars can rise and fall. It wasn't that long ago that observers loved Perez. Now he's almost an afterthought, while Jimenez has generated quite a bit more interest. Meanwhile, d'Arnaud has gone from the third player in the Halladay deal to being viewed as a potential star and a poster boy for the resurgent Jays' farm system.

If I'm Fielder, I would much rather earn a high AAV for a good team like Texas for five or six years than mill around Baltimore for seven or eight during a protracted rebuild. Although the seemingly ever-hotter Texas heat would drive me crazy.
Glevin - Monday, January 23 2012 @ 01:09 PM EST (#250962) #
" Can't recall any major league catchers moving to 2B or SS but I'm sure at least some have moved to the outfield."

Biggio started as a catcher. Very rare though obviously.
sam - Monday, January 23 2012 @ 01:21 PM EST (#250963) #
So Gose and Marisnick make MLB.com's outfield top 10 prospects. Gose comes in at 9 and Marisnick at 10. That makes three Jays (d'Arnaud being the other) on the various lists. Hard to argue with the rankings. Lawrie would obviously have been the top ranked 3B, however, he did not qualify.

This upcoming year could be a big year for the minor leagues. Whereas in the past a guy like Marisnick would move fast if he starts to tear up High A, I think the Snider experience will result in Marisnick and the outfield trio of Knecht and Crouse playing the full year at Dunedin. It'll be interesting how the Jays sort out Lansing, Vancouver and Bluefield. Nicolino and Snydergaard are sure to start in Lansing, however, do Sanchez, Murphy, and Taylor join them? What about Adonys Cardona and some of the high draft choice pitchers from last year's draft? Is John Stilson healthy, and if he is, does he start at Lansing? What about Sam Dyson? I just realized that I might be stealing some of Gerry's thunder here so I'll stop, but I'm quite excited to follow the minor leagues this year. There are a couple of guys who could really surprise and maybe even move fast.

Three guys that might be a bit under the radar that I look forward to following this year:

Kellen Sweeney
Sam Dyson
John Stilson

jester00 - Monday, January 23 2012 @ 01:35 PM EST (#250964) #
Does anyone have any news on Dyson and Stilson with regards to there health?  I thought I had read somewhere that one or both had setbacks in instructionals on something along those lines.  Can anyone confirm/deny?  Would love to see them both get their pro careers started because if healthy they could definitely be fast movers.
Gerry - Monday, January 23 2012 @ 01:36 PM EST (#250965) #

I think this is a big year for the minor leagues for another reason.   Most of the Jays prospects are at AA or below.  There are few prospects trying to make the team out of spring training and few are major league ready from a trade perspective.  Most GM's are looking for major league ready, or almost major league ready, prospects in a trade.   Other than d'Arnaud and Gose, most of the Jays top prospects have yet to spend a full year at AA.

By the end of 2012 the Jays would hope that d'Arnaud and Gose are close to ready and that Sierra and McDade are too.  That guys like Jimenez, Perez, Marisnick and Knecht are in AA and ready for their next step.  That Hutchison, McGuire and Jenkins have had some major league exposure and that the young guns like Syndergaard, Nicolino and Sanchez are in Dunedin.

That will give the Jays backups in the minors for the major league club and trade chips.  I still think that with the strength of the Jays minor league system, the Jays will find the most success in trading two or three prospects for a superior major league player.

Of course all of that will not play out, but if more than half of it does the Jays will have a strong system with more reinforcements at every level. 

Chuck - Monday, January 23 2012 @ 01:39 PM EST (#250966) #

but I'm sure at least some have moved to the outfield

Dale Murphy became a gold glove center fielder, which of course is highly unusual. Brian Downing became a left fielder.

I can see JP at 1B in the future, though it's hard to project him as even an average 1B at the moment.

Or ever. That OBP could well be a life long problem, meaning it'd only play behind the plate. The offensive bar at first base is awfully high.

joeblow - Monday, January 23 2012 @ 02:19 PM EST (#250967) #
Did some research on catcher position changes, Bryce Harper was a catcher before being drafted. There are many other minor league examples. Lots of discussion around Posey moving but that seems unlikely.

This is an interesting one Former catcher Chris Hatcher returns to Florida Marlins as a pitcher, first such move in 75 years. This happened in 2011.

I'm probably more optimistic than some that JP will become a good hitter. Focus and approach are big issues. He seemed to mail in a lot of plate appearances last year.
Lugnut Fan - Monday, January 23 2012 @ 02:40 PM EST (#250969) #

In response to joeblow's question, I believe that Perez was a second baseman prior to being converted to a catcher.  There were times during BP last season in Lansing that I saw Perez taking grounders at second too.  I asked about it once, but was told that the organization was committed to Carlos learing to be a catcher at this time.  I think catching every day and taking the day to day "abuse" of the position really affected his offensive performance.  Early on, it looked to me that Carlos was a solid offensive player and really seemed to be more of a gap to gap hitter.  As the season went on however, his swing got a little long.

I'm probably in the minority here, but I was not overly impressed with Perez's arm behind the plate.  I would rank it as average, but there are people that know far more than I do about such things that have his arm labled as one of his strengths.  Jimenez has one heck of an arm and is one of the stronger throwing arms that I have seen in the lower levels.

whiterasta80 - Monday, January 23 2012 @ 03:00 PM EST (#250970) #
Joeblow, where did you read that "first in 75 years" I could have sworn that Kenley Jansen of the Dodgers was a catcher before becoming a reliever a few years back.
whiterasta80 - Monday, January 23 2012 @ 03:01 PM EST (#250971) #
Ah, I think Hatcher had MLB experience at catcher, while Jansen had only played it in the minors.
John Northey - Monday, January 23 2012 @ 03:06 PM EST (#250972) #
Good catch whiterasta80 - checking B-R I see Jansen had 238 games caught in the minors (229/310/337 hitter). However, he never reached the majors as a catcher so that might be the condition they are using. Hatcher caught 4 games in the majors in 2010 then reached the majors as a pitcher in 2011. Now _that_ is a quick turnaround.
Mike Green - Monday, January 23 2012 @ 03:10 PM EST (#250973) #
Those are interesting comments about Perez, LF.  It's not as though the organization is backed up in the middle infield.
Flex - Monday, January 23 2012 @ 05:38 PM EST (#250976) #
It's exciting to see that Sickels has ranked the Jays the No.1 Farm system in baseball. Further proof that Anthopoulos has done a lot in a very short amount of time.

You can see, also in the rankings for Washington (14) and Cincinnati (21) the effect that just one trade of prospects for a star can have on a system. We have to be cool with the idea that that may be the fate of the Jays system one day in the not too distant future.
bpoz - Monday, January 23 2012 @ 05:45 PM EST (#250977) #
#1 !!! Thanks Chocolatethunder. Except now we have no where to go but down. No?
Kelekin - Monday, January 23 2012 @ 05:57 PM EST (#250978) #
It is nice to see the Jays system ranked so highly.  This year and next will be interested as the huge influx of high school players over the past two years will start thinning out a bit as to who is just 'potential' and who actually has the goods.

There are so many amazing names to watch this year, and I for one can't wait for Lansing and short-season ball to get started.

I think Washington and Tampa Bay are under-ranked, but Tampa Bay has had poor performances from some of their new draftees the past two years in short-season ball.  New York I would rate higher, and I think Arizona is going to have a huge jump with all the high-impact arms they drafted last year.

Good to see the Mariners at #4 even after trading two huge arms. 

Kelekin - Monday, January 23 2012 @ 06:06 PM EST (#250979) #
On another note, where do you feel certain draftees from the past couple years should be in our rotations?  Who do you feel are the most deserving for the Lansing jobs?

I personally feel Nicolino, Syndergaard, and Sanchez are the three that definitely need to be in the Lansing rotation.  You could make cases for Taylor, Ybarra, and Meyer.  Of those, I feel Ybarra has age against him and so he should be in the rotation, and Taylor really depends on if his attitude issues are worked out.  They might also have Anderson or Diaz round it out.

With Stilson/Dyson, if either are healthy, they should be in Dunedin.  Dyson likely is going to be a reliever (especially with his age and setbacks), so I'd like to see him fast-tracked. 
TamRa - Tuesday, January 24 2012 @ 05:15 AM EST (#251019) #
I'm a bit miffed (in a general sense) that we might be wasting a serviceable guy in Yan Gomes just because the better guys are parading through the starting spot in front of him.

Next time someone interviews Fasano, i hope they ask him about how the org views Gomes.
spud77 - Sunday, January 29 2012 @ 01:48 PM EST (#251319) #
Kyle Phillips was signed to a minor league deal, presumably to back up d'Arnaud in Las Vegas. Not sure where that leaves Jeroloman. Phillips was in San Diego's organization last year. He's 27.
Mike Green - Monday, January 30 2012 @ 02:01 PM EST (#251344) #
mlb.com has an interview with d'Arnaud.
John Northey - Monday, January 30 2012 @ 02:23 PM EST (#251348) #
Phillips catches me as a super-utility backup. He can play 3B and 1B as well as catcher and has a bit of ML experience as well. His minor league OPS is down to 714 after a poor year last year (630 OPS) although he did get a bit of ML time (85 PA, 56 OPS+) in May/June/July as a backup.

I figure he is the 3rd catcher in AAA, possibly used in AA (same for Jeroloman) depending on needs. An emergency call-up if needed but hopefully not needed. Every team needs a few spare catchers as injuries are part of the job.
2012 Minor League Players - Catchers | 29 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.