During the Alex Anthopolous regime, then-Amateur Scouting Director Blake Parker was given free rein (and, for a while, one of the largest scouting departments in the game) to look for players in non-traditional baseball markets. That approach landed them Anthony Alford in 2012, and a year later, an injured Wisconsin Catcher named Danny Jansen in the 16th round.
It’s been a long and winding road for Jansen (who lost significant parts of three minor league season due to injuries), but sources indicate that one of the top prospect systems will be promoted to the Blue Jays today, taking the place of Yangervis Solarte on the 25-man after Solarte was injured yesterday.
Here’s what to expect from Jansen:
1. Grit and Resilience
This is a guy, after all, that the Blue Jays drafted even though he’d missed much of the short Wisconsin baseball season his senior year of high school due to a broken wrist (which he tried to play with in the state championship game).
The workload Catchers toil under is enormous, but Jansen has both the frame (6″2″/225) and the stamina to handle the rigours of a full season. He’ll play through injury, and work hard on rehab if/when he’s out of the lineup.
2. A nice, low target
Despite his size, Jansen is flexible enough to present a target at the bottom of the strike zone, a plus for handling sinker ball Pitchers. His lateral movement to block wayward pitches has always been a work in progress, but he’s shown steady improvement each season.
3. A good framer of pitches
This was a skill Jansen had as early as Low A. Jansen is an expert at setting up at different parts of the strike zone to expand the corners. Like Russell Martin, once one of the premier framers in the game, Jansen doesn’t move his whole arm to coax pitches back into the strike zone – he’s adept at turning his wrist slightly to frame.
4. A leader
This was evident from his time in short season ball. Jansen is skilled at working with pitchers and calling their games – you rarely see Pitchers shake him off. He is a steady influence behind the plate.
5. A decent bat
Jansen has been hard pressed to repeat his breakout (.323/.400/.484) at three levels performance from last year, but he’s not a guaranteed bottom of the order bat, either.
Jansen rarely chases, and sees a lot of pitches each AB. He doesn’t strike out a lot, and isn’t afraid to draw a walk – he’s getting on base at a .390 clip this year. A Catcher’s defensive contributions are far and away the most important aspect of his game, but Jansen should provide some upgraded production for the Blue Jays offence.
Raised well by solid Midwestern parents, Jansen is not flashy. A veteran of six minor league seasons, his patience and work ethic are about to pay off. Catcher of the Future for the Blue Jays has been a curse this century, but with Jansen and the crop of backstops behind him in the minors, the team appears set there for the next decade.