After the trade of Travis d’Arnaud and the cut ties with J.P. Arencibia, A.J. Jimenez has been appointed the in-house heir to the catching throne. Because of his placement in the system (at AAA) this is a fair assessment but by no means the long-term answer. Santiago Nessy has the talent and the tools to be the next great catcher in the Blue Jays system but given the track record of the Blue Jays developing top-tier catching talent, that definitely remains to be seen.
Name: Santiago Nessy
Date of Birth: 12/08/1992
Acquired: Signed as a 16-year-old Undrafted International Free Agent July 2, 2009 ($750,000 USD)
Home Town: La Victoria, Venezuela
Height/Weight: 6’2″/230 lbs
Stats and Analysis
The Blue Jays assigned Nessy to the Dominican Summer League in 2010 where he hit a respectable .248 and a decent OPS of .703. His next move for 2011 was with Gulf Coast League Blue Jays where he hit a robust .304 and continued to show some plus power potential with a .773 OPS and only 29 strikeouts in 134 at bats. His receiving skills started to develop more and he cut down his passed ball rate but his arm needed some work after throwing out only 19% of potential base stealers. It was enough of a progression that he was assigned to rookie ball in Bluefield of the Appalachian League.
His batting average dipped to .256 but he began to show more power and discipline at the plate with a .776 OPS. Now we started to see what true potential this kid had. He was rewarded for a decent season with a promotion to Vancouver late in the season. He only had 22 at-bats and hit all of .091 but to be part of a championship team in Vancouver was an intangible that could reward itself down the line. Off of this good season he started to move up the organizational depth chart and started to catch the eye of more scouts and front office staff alike. So much so that he was promoted to full season Single-A Lansing for the 2013 season.
2013 started off pretty well for Nessy but three weeks into his season he suffered a concussion that kept him out until mid June. Defense that scouts were raving about after his work with catching guru Sal Fasano started to slip. The raw power he possessed was there but Nessy hadn’t taken that next step forward where he was driving the ball consistently with authority. He was left unprotected for the Rule 5 draft and there were no takers. It was perhaps surprising given his raw ability but was maybe evident of how far Nessy still has to go to become a regular on a MLB team 40 man roster.
Scouting Report and Outlook
Video Credit: MLB Prospect Portal
With his size and ability to be coached there is a chance Nessy could be pushing for a big league job in 2016. He must prove that he is over the concussion he got this past year and it is essential that he take that next step forward and increase his walk rate, reduce his strikeout rate (which stands about 3:1 lifetime) and bring that raw power consistently into each game. The minors are riddled with journeyman type catchers and unless Nessy is able to put it all together for a full season he may be one of those. A guy with potential never fully realized. There is definitely a spot for a catcher of the future with Dioner Navarro signed for only 2 years. We may see Nessy moved up to Class A-Advanced Dunedin to start the year or he may repeat again in Lansing. Will he make strides at the plate in 2014? Next year will be an important season for Nessy to prove he has what it takes to be our next home-grown catcher.