Jays Journal Top 50 Blue Jays Prospects: No. 42 Santiago Nessy


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No. 42: Santiago Nessy

Catcher / 19 years old / 6’2″ 230 lbs

Born: December 8, 1992 in La Victoria, Venezuela

Bats Right   Throws Right

High School Team: N/A

College: N/A

Signed: As a 16-year-old international free agent in July 2009

Jersey Number: 22 for the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays

Pre-2011 Rank: 48

Career Stats:

GCL Blue Jays Team Stats Ranking (min. 10 GP):

  • T-2nd in errors (10)
  • T-3rd in hits (41)
  • 4th in RBIs (19) and batting average (.306)
  • T-4th in  doubles (7)
  • 5th in at-bats (134), total bases (57), and slugging percentage (.425)
  • 6th in OPS (.773)
  • T-6th in  home runs (3)
  • 7th in strikeouts (29)
  • 8th in games played (35) and on-base percentage (.347)
  • 9th in runs (12)
  • 10th in walks (8)

Extra Information and previous experience:

The Toronto Blue Jays have a well-known surplus of catching prospects in their minor league system, but that hasn’t meant that a young Venezuelan by the name of Santiago Nessy has been forgotten about. Having recently completed his first taste of baseball in the United States, the 19-year-old has his whole career ahead of him, and those who follow the Jays’ system are intrigued by the big man to say the least.

Big is one of the most accurate words to describe Nessy. Reading up on him a lot since he signed with the Jays in 2009 was one thing, but seeing him up close and behind the scenes was another. His thick frame is certainly noticeable, but not to the point where he looked drastically overweight. While taking the above picture last year, I noticed that Nessy moves around just find behind the dish, and you can see that his 230 pounds are evenly distributed over his 6-foot-2 body.

Officially making his organizational debut for the Jays in 2010, Nessy had a rough start at the plate in the Dominican Summer League before finding his swing as the season continued on. After being named a DSL mid-season All-Star, Nessy continued to pick up steam at the plate after the break by improving his strikeout rate and upping his on-base percentage, finishing with a .248 average and .703 OPS overall. In addition to leading his team with 12 doubles, he tied for the team lead with two home runs.

Since practically no stock should be put into Dominican Summer League stats, I was interested to see how Nessy would fare in 2011 while adjusting to a new life in the United States. He swings a mean stick and has loads of offensive potential, but the Gulf Coast League, even if it is still rookie ball, is quite different from the Dominican Summer League.

After further working on his game in extended spring training, Nessy stormed out of the gate in GCL play in June, going 8-for-27 (.296) with a double, two home runs, three walks, and four strikeouts in his first seven games. Though that power surge disappeared in a 13-for-47 July with just one extra-base hit, he stormed back with a red-hot August that saw him not only finish the year on a five-game hit streak, but hit .341 with an .899 OPS in his final 10 games of the season.

Having only recently turned 19 years old, Nessy made significant strides offensively this past season, getting more comfortable at the plate and swinging the bat more often. More selective, he waited for his pitch to hit more than he did when he was in the DSL, and improved against left-handed pitching. His numbers this season could have been much higher if wasn’t for a .584  OPS in July, and it will be fun to see how much of the power potential inside his big frame is displayed in 2012.

Some people have voiced concerns over Nessy’s weight and his ability to stay behind the plate long-term, but the Blue Jays don’t have that mentality, since there have been many big-bodied catchers that have played in the Majors, like Yadier Molina, for example. It’s Nessy’s defense, rather, that will ultimately determine what position he plays in the future.

It’s no secret that he has a high ceiling offensively, but he’s going to have to continue to work very hard on his defensive game if he’d like to remain behind the plate going forward. At first glance, Nessy’s defensive numbers haven’t been pretty.

In 2010, he committed three errors, was charged with 10 passed balls, and threw out 14 of 57 baserunners (25%). This past season he committed 10 errors, was charged with eight passed balls and threw out an identical 14 baserunners, but in 58 chances for a 19% rate.

Looking past the numbers, though, Nessy really came a long way from a receiving standpoint this past season and became more comfortable working with his pitchers. It’s improving his throwing and pop time that he’ll look to really work on in the coming years.

Expected 2012 Team: Bluefield Blue Jays (Rookie)

Ultimate ceiling if he puts it all together: Everyday MLB catcher with an offensive focus, like a Victor Martinez

Still so young, there’s reason to be excited about a guy like Nessy. However, being so raw and far away from the Majors, his career can definitely go a variety of ways.

Given that he’ll play short-season ball again next year, likely with Bluefield, he will have had extra months of learning in both instructs and 2012 extended spring training before he plays his first regular season game next year. Hopefully we see some changes next year, as he’s certainly a catching prospect to keep an eye on.

– JM

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