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Baseball season approaches, and none too soon.  As we wait for spring training to begin it is a good time to carefully look at the Blue Jays minor league teams and try to understand how the players will fit into those teams.  In this first part we will look at the catchers, then follow with corner infielders, middle infielders, outfielders and starting pitchers.

And away we go......

The Jays have tremendous depth at the catcher position, in fact they have too many catchers to neatly fit in to all the starting catcher positions.  JP Arencibia, Brian Jeroloman, Travis d'Arnaud, Carlos Perez, AJ Jimenez, Yan Gomes, Sean Ochinko and Santiago Nessy gives us eight to split among six teams.  Something's gotta give.

Toronto: It is obvious now that JP Arencibia, backed up by Jose Molina, will handle the cacthing duties in the big leagues.

Las Vegas: Brian Jeroloman has already had some brief exposure to AAA, seven games in 2010 and twenty-five games in 2008, but having spent almost three years in AA Jeroloman now has to prove himself in AAA.  Jeroloman is 25 years old now and will turn 26 in May.  Catchers often take a little longer to make it to the big leagues but at age 26 this is a big year for Jeroloman.  2009 was a very bad year for him, he blames his performance on injuries, but 2010 was a bit of a bounce back year.  Jeroloman doesn't have a lot of power and he relies on a good eye to pad his on-base and OPS stats.  There is always a debate as to whether Jeroloman should be more aggressive or should he stay as he is, taking strike one and not being adverse to the walk.  The offense required of a good defense catcher in the major leagues is not high.  If Jeroloman can hold his batting average over .250, and maintain a decent walk rate, he will find work in the majors.  His defense is excellent and major league ready right now.

Jeroloman's backup will be Ryan Budde, a minor league veteran.

New Hampshire: Travis d'Arnaud will be the starting catcher for the Fisher Cats in 2011.  d'Arnaud started 2010 in excellent form but a back injury reduced his effectiveness and ultimately cost him the second half of the season.  Nevertheless I expect Travis to be in New Hampshire in 2011.  d'Arnaud reportedly showed excellent power at a Jays mini-camp in Toronto in January.

The question in AA is, who will backup Travis?  There are a couple of "journeymen" candidates, Al Quintana and Matt Liuzza.  Yan Gomes, who backed up d'Arnaud in Dunedin in 2010, would be a long shot to make AA this year.

DunedinAJ Jimenez should be the starting catcher for the Jays in 2011.  Jimenez is still just 20 years old, he turns 21 on Mayday.  Jimenez spent all of 2010 in Lansing, his second season there, hitting .305 for the Lugnuts.  Jimenez is another Blue Jay catcher with an excellent defensive reputation.  His challenge in high A will be to prove his bat can live up to his defense.  Jimenez, like many Latino players, is a free swinger although he improved his eye in 2010.  Some scouts question whether his bat will allow him to make the big leagues.  Dunedin will be a test of that.


Jimenez's back-up will be an interesting decision for the Jays brass.  Sean Ochinko will look to move up from Lansing where he was the Webster award winner in 2010.  The previously mentioned Yan Gomes could also remain in Dunedin, and Jon Talley will also look for some catcher at-bats.  The Jays have said Talley will play a lot of first base in 2011 but they are reluctant to give up on him as a catcher.  Ochinko deserves the move up and he has the flexibility to play around the infield corners as well.  The easy way out of the log-jam for the Jays is to send Gomes to AA, and have Talley and Ochinko as back-up catcher/first base guys.  It would also not be out of the question for Gomes to go to Lansing to allow him to work on his catching skills.

Lansing: Carlos Perez, another Webster award winner, will move up from Auburn to Lansing to experience his first full season team.  Perez, like Jimenez, is 20 years old but Perez is six months younger so he won't turn 21 until after the season ends.  Perez has always shown a strong bat and he should continue to hit in the Midwest League.

Rookie: Santiago Nessy signed a big contract with the Jays in 2009.  Last season he went back to the Dominican Summer League to get assimilated into professional baseball.  Nessy should play in North America in 2011.  Nessy will be backed up (although the Jays may have two teams in extended spring) by Pierce Rankin


Tomorrow we look at the corner infielders.

2011 Minor League Players - The Catchers | 31 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Mike Green - Monday, February 07 2011 @ 08:49 AM EST (#230005) #
Nice summary, Gerry. 
Maldoff - Monday, February 07 2011 @ 10:42 AM EST (#230011) #
Gerry, do you have any insight on the ability of guys like Ochinko and Gomes to remain behind the plate? If I remember correctly, most of their games last year were spent at other positions.
Gerry - Monday, February 07 2011 @ 11:05 AM EST (#230013) #
Both are bat-first guys.  It's not impossible for them to stay behind the plate and become an offensive catcher but their problem will be they are unlikely to get enough playing time behind the plate to develop their skills.  If they truly want to be catchers they have to hope for an injury in the Jays system or for a trade to some team who needs catchers.
CeeBee - Monday, February 07 2011 @ 11:46 AM EST (#230015) #
Thanks for the report Gerry.
I guess it would be safe to say that the Jays minor league system has never been so loaded with good catching prospects at any one time in history?
cybercavalier - Monday, February 07 2011 @ 12:11 PM EST (#230017) #
Thanks for the report Gerry.

Do you have any insight on the whereabouts of Jonathan Jaspe? He shared playing time with Liuzza in New Hampshire last season. Also I guess it would be a bit redundant to sign Budde given the abundance of catching prospects but he can be easily flipped to another AAA team should Liuzza, Jaspe or Quintana is ok to play AAA. Still if anything happens to d'Arnaud, three catchers are ready to step up.

uglyone - Monday, February 07 2011 @ 12:14 PM EST (#230018) #
It strikes me that Jeroloman could very quickly turn right back into a good prospect again with a hot start in AAA this year.

Good to very good defense + good to very good OBP = good to very good catching prospect, IMO.

A good first half from him this year and I'll be hoping for AA to trade Molina and give the backup spot to Brian.
Helpmates - Monday, February 07 2011 @ 12:29 PM EST (#230019) #
Nessy's a big the Loch Ness Monster.  I hope he makes it to The Show just for his potential nickname, alone.
Gerry - Monday, February 07 2011 @ 12:32 PM EST (#230020) #

I don't know about Jaspe's whereabouts.  He is a minor league free agent but I haven't heard that he signed anywhere.  Sometimes those guys sit at home until a team needs an injury replacement.

As I said up top, if Jeroloman can hit .250, walk a lot, and play plus defense he could be a major leaguer.  And he would be first in line if a catcher gets injured this season, he is already on the 40 man roster.  And lastly he is a nice guy who is always willing to talk so he would be a nice player to have up here.

bpoz - Monday, February 07 2011 @ 12:50 PM EST (#230021) #
Excellent Gerry.
I have always been disappointed by the lack of ABs that Jon Talley gets. I would like to get a description of his strengths & weaknesses. He is one of my favorites.
Everyone knows that he was a young 2007 (13th round) draft pick. I would like to know the game plan for his development from day 1 because the low ABs puzzles me.
1)I always thought that with his size he could/should have produced more power. The low ABs IMO slowed his development but he is young 22 on Feb 18, but he is entering his 5th pro year.
2) I am unsure of injuries. I read somewhere that he played little so that he could concentrate on learning the catching position. Maybe we had too many other players that needed ABs so C, 1st & DH were all spoken for. IMO 400-450 ABs/yr are a good number for a full season.
cybercavalier - Monday, February 07 2011 @ 12:59 PM EST (#230022) #
Thanks for the info on Jaspe. I guess with that many catchers in the minor league system (Ochinko and Talley cannot get ample playing time behind the plate; how much chance do a guy like Jaspe have, with respect to Jaspe?), the Jays have no urgent need of an external source of catching like Budde. Initially I thought Budde could have been a wild card and that third catcher, besides Molina and Arencibia, who can be switched between Toronto and Las Vegas. Jeroloman would play regularly at AAA, in case the travel and playing times in both cities hurt his development.
cybercavalier - Monday, February 07 2011 @ 01:06 PM EST (#230023) #
After reading Talley's profile on BbRef, I have the same questions on Talley. Hopefully he would not end up like Al Quintana, a 28 years old minor league journeyman spending the last 2 seasons in A+, AA, AAA.
#2JBrumfield - Monday, February 07 2011 @ 01:18 PM EST (#230024) #

Interesting d'Arnaud was wearing #32 in that photo and that the "D" was capitalized.  I guess there's no room in the budget for lower case letters.

In case you missed it, the National Post had a feature on two of the three players who did not sign with the Jays in the 2009 draft.

bpoz - Monday, February 07 2011 @ 01:40 PM EST (#230025) #
Paxton & Jake E are still unsigned I believe. Jake's shine seems to have dulled but Paxton still has value as a hard throwing LHP.
IMO Paxton should sign at his next opportunity because he is risking his financial future in case he get injured. These are scarce opportunities.
Gerry - Monday, February 07 2011 @ 01:42 PM EST (#230026) #

Talley hit well in the GCL in 2008, but he hasn't hit well over the last two seasons.  Last season in Dunedin Talley hit .270 before the all-star break and .209 after so I wouldn't say he had a great year.

In his defense Talley has battled injuries and he has had to try and learn to improve his catching skills.  Talley is not a great catcher and he is also tall for a catcher at 6'3".

I think this is a make or break year for Talley.  Even though the Jays say they don't want to rule him out as a catcher I would, and I would stick him at first base and see if he can hit FSL pitching.

92-93 - Monday, February 07 2011 @ 02:25 PM EST (#230027) #
The Baseball Prospectus guys said the other day that the Blue Jays have the most organizational C talent in baseball.
wacker - Monday, February 07 2011 @ 02:32 PM EST (#230030) #
I see talley with his size doing alot more first base, speaking of that I ran into, during my travels, him and brad Glenn working out together. Those two are a couple of big ass boys!!
sam - Monday, February 07 2011 @ 03:23 PM EST (#230031) #
Jim Duquette over at has got to be one of the most ill-informed baseball insiders of all-time. There's a video up on the Jays website where he claims Dotel will be the closer and Rauch will be his set-up guy with no mention of Francisco. Unless this video was filmed a month ago, although even then it would be highly suspect, then Duquette is making a fool of himself. The video was posted on February 5. He's been horribly off-bas eon other things related to the Jays as well.
mamboon - Monday, February 07 2011 @ 04:47 PM EST (#230033) #

Gerry, thanks for the great post and predicitons.  d'Arnaud is one of the bright spots on the farm.  Happy to hear he did well at the Mini-Camp.  He's one of my favs. And in addition to his strong bat, he has a heap of intangibles going for him.  I have seen him play a dozen games or so in Dunedin.  He's a real leader and sparkplug on the field.  Qick, accurate arm down to second.  Look for good things from Travis!

The Blue Jays buzz is heating up around Dunedin... the players are starting to trickle in for conditioning and BP.  Nice to see all the SUV's and pick up trucks in the Parking lot at Mattick and the newly named "Florida Auto Exchange" Stadium.


Shaker - Monday, February 07 2011 @ 06:35 PM EST (#230035) #

There is a good chance the Jays will go the enlightened bullpen route and use their "not best" reliever as the closer. 

They pretty much did that last year by having Gregg as the closer, while using Downs and Camp in the higher leverage situations.  Gregg collected the cheap saves and glory while others do the hard work of putting out fires.

It would not shock if Dotel closed, despite the fact that FF, Rauch and others are more effective relievers.

Timbuck2 - Monday, February 07 2011 @ 07:58 PM EST (#230036) #
92-93 - Monday, February 07 2011 @ 10:14 PM EST (#230037) #
If the Jays weren't in on Beltre they have no business trading for Young unless Texas is picking up a significant amount of the $48m remaining on his contract.
Original Ryan - Tuesday, February 08 2011 @ 12:32 AM EST (#230038) #
The spring training broadcast schedule is out.  In addition to the four televised games on Sportsnet, it appears that the games on March 19, 25 and 26 will be broadcast by the opponents' home networks.  If this year is like past years (and I don't see why it wouldn't be), we should be able to watch those three other games online for free.

Interestingly, the list of Blue Jays announcers no longer includes Rance Mulliniks and Sam Cosentino. I don't know if that means anything or if it was just an oversight.  Those two were on that list last year.
85bluejay - Tuesday, February 08 2011 @ 08:52 AM EST (#230040) #

Happy the Jays have such depth at catching - but given the unhappy history of Jays catching prospects, I'm going to take a "show me" attitude to this present group.

Having been acquired in the Halladay trade, Travis D'Arnaud is the apple of this FO eyes and likely the longterm catcher of the future - it will be interesting if one of the other catchers outperforms D'Arnaud  by a significant margin. 

AS an interesting sidenote - the Jays picked Arencibia ahead of D'Arnaud in 2007 most likely because of the college/HS preference - so it will be interesting to see how it all turns out.

John Northey - Tuesday, February 08 2011 @ 09:20 AM EST (#230043) #
Young would be interesting, but only if Texas paid about 90% of his contract as he gets around $16 mil a year for 2011/2012/2013 and is about a 100-110 OPS+ hitter at this point of his career. If he was still a solid defensive shortstop that'd be fine, but as a mediocre third baseman who might become a DH ... ick.

If Texas took 90% - $1.6 million. 75% = $4 million. I guess 75% would be acceptable given what th Jays are paying for backups these days. Still, I can't see Texas eating $12 mil a year for 3 years. If Wells was still here then a 'bad contract' trade would be possible but I don't see AA being in a rush to get a bad contract back here anytime soon.

Although if Texas was willing to part with a couple of top prospects then I could see AA going for it ($10-20 mil = 1 high end prospect so 2-3 high end prospects should do the job). So send EE and a couple low end prospects for Young and a couple high end ones (top Texas prospects via Sickels - 3 B+'s in Jurickson Profar SS, Martin Perez & Robbie Erlin LHP, plus B's Tanner Scheppers RHP and Mike Olt 3B) and you might have a deal. AA has shown he can be creative and he just might surprise and do it again.
Mike Green - Tuesday, February 08 2011 @ 09:31 AM EST (#230044) #
The metrics seem to agree that Edwin Encarnacion is, at this point, a better defensive third baseman than Michael Young.  If the club wants to move Bautista back to the outfield, all they need to do is to find a left-handed DH and platoon him with Rivera.  Michael Young really has no value for this club. 
85bluejay - Tuesday, February 08 2011 @ 09:48 AM EST (#230045) #

I don't see young in Toronto - however, if the jays can insert themselves into the trade and come away with Ian Stewart that would be great . How about young and cash to Colorado, Juan Rivera to Texas and Stewart to Toronto. Colorado gets young, both Young & Lopez can play 2B/3B - Rivera gives Texas someone who can play RF/LF/1B/DH and gives them a killer lineup against LHP and Rivera can bring back a draft pick in the offseason - the jays add a Lefthander to the lineup/younger/3 yrs control and better defensively at   3rd and can move Bautista to RF.

#2JBrumfield - Tuesday, February 08 2011 @ 09:59 AM EST (#230046) #
J.P. Arencibia is putting in the work to earn the Jays number one spot according to The Sporting News.  The article says Arencibia has been in Dunedin for quite some time according to  Buck Martinez.
ayjackson - Tuesday, February 08 2011 @ 11:36 AM EST (#230049) #

The article says Arencibia has been in Dunedin for quite some time according to  Buck Martinez.

He drove their on Feb 2, according to his tweet.

ComebyDeanChance - Tuesday, February 08 2011 @ 01:36 PM EST (#230050) #
I can't imagine Texas being able to deal Young without eating a tremendous amount of cash. His 34/35/36 years are guaranteed for a total of $48 million. . If the earlier reports are true and they wouldn't pay $20 million to Colorado, I think they have to be bluffing or dreaming.

He'd be a crazy acquisition for Toronto.

Young has not handled it admirably. Dibble on mlbradio this morning made the point that the collective agreement protects him from a lot of things, but not hurt feelings.
Thomas - Tuesday, February 08 2011 @ 02:33 PM EST (#230054) #
Interestingly, the list of Blue Jays announcers no longer includes Rance Mulliniks and Sam Cosentino. I don't know if that means anything or if it was just an oversight. Those two were on that list last year.

I hope it's an oversight or that the team is still coming to terms with them. I liked the rotating system Sportsnet utilized over the previous couple of seasons. I much prefer a Mullinks/Tabler (and ideally a third partner in there occasionally, like Fletcher did for a couple of years) rotation than 162 games of Tabler.

Original Ryan - Tuesday, February 08 2011 @ 02:48 PM EST (#230055) #
I hope it's an oversight or that the team is still coming to terms with them. I liked the rotating system Sportsnet utilized over the previous couple of seasons. I much prefer a Mullinks/Tabler (and ideally a third partner in there occasionally, like Fletcher did for a couple of years) rotation than 162 games of Tabler.

Same here.  I've also enjoyed Cosentino's work on the sidelines and as the backup play-by-play announcer.  It would be a bit surprising if Cosentino was replaced, considering he was recently the emcee for the State of the Franchise event.
2011 Minor League Players - The Catchers | 31 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.