Jays Minors - Top 4 Catchers

For anyone who has watched the Yankees, Angels, Cardinals, White Sox, and Angels win their championships in recent years, it was obvious that the teams had talent throughout the organization that pushed them to the championship level. However, each of these teams also had something else in common: very strong catching. Whether we're talking Jorge Posada in NY, Jason Varitek in Boston, Mike Napoli in Los Angeles, AJ Pierzynski in Chicago, or Yadier Molina in St-Louis, they all had a major impact on their respective clubs. With guys like Matt Wieters, Buster Posey, Carlos Santana, and Jesus Montero getting all the press in terms of catchers coming through the minors, the Jasy actually have a formidable foursome that can challenge the depth of any squad on terms of talent at the Catcher position. Here they are, in order of talent:

1. Carlos Perez: will be 20 yrs old in 2010
Carlos signed with the Jays in 2007 as an international FA ($700,000 bonus) and showed some maturity last season with the GCL Jays. He hit 11 doubles, 3 triples, and a homer in 141 ABs, while walking 16 times and only striking out 23 times. His OBP and AVG were respectable at .364 and .291 respectively. BA ranked Perez as the 6th best prospect in the GCL this past season and see him as the catcher of the future for the Jays if all things fall into place. They point out that his defense really shines (something that the other catchers in the system seem to lag behind on) as he threw out 49% of base stealers this season and has a 1.9 second pop-time. His height and weight (6'0" 195 lbs) would also lead me to believe that he is more likely to stay at the position than the other catching prospects the Jays have, even if he does add to that a little.

2. Sean Ochinko: will be 23 yrs old in 2010
Selected in the 11th round in the 2009 draft, Sean played well enough to be named a NYP All-Star at the mid-season point. Getting 188 AB in Auburn, Sean showed that he can handle the bat very well, smacking 6 homers, 20 doubles, and sporting a .324 average overall. His OBP was outstanding at .382 and he only struck out 26 times. He has many College highlights that point to his leadership skills and ability to perform under pressure. Sean does have some experience at 1B, which leads me to believe that if Carlos really does take over the catcher position for the Jays for a long time period, Sean could become the 1B of the future (although Brian Dopirak may have something to say about that for the next couple of years.) Still, Sean is more likely to be ready to compete very soon and may begin the2010 season in HiA Dunedin or AA New Hampshire.

3. JP Arencibia: will be 24 yrs old during 2010 season
JP was selected 21st overall in 2007 by the Jays and climbed the ladder at an extremely quick pace, starting in HiA his first season in the minors. He followed up a great 2007 start with an even better 2008, splitting time between HiA and AA, accumulating 27 HRs and 105 RBI in the process with a decent .298 average. However, in 2009, JP took a step back and showed some holes in his swing. He hit .236 on the season and managed 21 homers. Some scouts doubt that he'll ever be able to hit for average, but his power is off the charts. This is the guy who beat Alex Rodriguez's home run record in High School. He did go through some injuries that slowed him down in 2009, so his "off-year" could be explainable, and he did finish the last 10 games with a .349 average and 6 dingers, so he could suprise many with a big league gig next year. Really, what do the Jays have to lose by letting him catch most of their games in 2010? It's not like Barajas will determine whether or not the Jays get into the playoffs, and they really need a power threat in the lineup. I love JP's bat and think it'll play well in the Dome, however, I also doubt JP will stay at catcher long term, which is why I ranked him 3rd on this list. Although he is 3rd, he is by far the #1 offensive catcher in the system and deserves more recognition than he's getting from minor league evaluators. He'll need to minimize his strike outs to do well against MLB pitching, but should hit for better average overall than Adam Dunn.

4. Yan Gomes: will be 23 yrs old in 2010
The Jays drafted Yan Gomes one round ahead of Ochinko in the 10th round of the 2009 draft. He's much bigger than the other catchers at 6'2" and 215 lbs, and unlike Ochinko who started his 2009 season in Auburn due to his signing date, Gomes was first sent to the GCL in order to get him some time behind the plate before the Auburn season started. Gomes is probably second defensively out of the Jays catching prospects, behind only Perez, and does have a good contact hitting approach. He hit .300 in 237 ABs in 2009, but only hit 2 homers and 23 doubles, less than Perez and Ochinko did in fewer ABs. He's a natural leader, hard worker, and should develop well as a result. Like Perez and Ochinko, how he handles the jump to AA and beyond will determine which one gets the prize of backing up or taking over from JP Arencibia. Regardless, I see a bright future for the Jays at the C position, and only hope that it would lead to some well deserved glory years for us Jays fans.

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