Has the Emergence of Derrick Chung Made A.J. Jimenez Expendable?


The emergence of Derrick Chung may have provided Alex Anthopoulus with another piece he can trade to upgrade the major league team.

Derrick Chung is a 31st round pick (955 overall) in the 2012 Amateur Draft. Chung was drafted as a 24-year-old and started in Vancouver that summer as a utility player….maybe more like a super utility player. Chung mostly appeared as a second baseman (22 GP) but also played a couple games in the LF (4) and third base (5). He only appeared in one game as a catcher that year.

It wasn’t until last year that Chung started seeing more time behind the plate after he approached management about catching in the spring training. Chung immediately impressed the coaching staff with his hard work, and a great arm….strong and accurate. This allowed Chung to by-pass Lansing and jump right into High-A Ball Dunedin.

In his first full year as a catcher, Chung made a huge impression with his bat, his arm, and his ability to catch the ball. Chung has thrown out 43% of would be base-stealers, only allowed seven passed balls, and committed one error. He’s also been given high praise from his pitchers, including both Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd, who personally told us in interviews (Norris here and Boyd here) that Derrick Chung calls a great game.

That is very good for a guy that was a second baseman a year ago.

Chung doesn’t project to be a guy that will strike fear into opposing pitchers but he has shown the ability to make consistent contact, doesn’t strike out a lot, and can take a walk. After dealing J.P. Arencibia I think Blue Jays fans will be thrilled with what Chung can contribute with his bat.

Field Stats: Derrick Chung

That brings us to this year. Check out what he has done in the field and with the bat.

Batting Stats: Derrick Chung

After looking at Chung’s stats this year it is no wonder that he is now taking reps in New Hampshire. I was surprised it took that long. At 26, Chung has been playing with prospects 2-3 years younger, but in NH he is playing with guys about a year younger.  Chung has appeared in just under 10 games with the Fisher Cats, so I might be getting ahead of myself by saying his play could make A.J. Jimenez expendable.Fielding Stats: Derrick Chung

A.J. Jimenez is currently the starting catcher for the Buffalo Bisons in Triple-A was rated as the Jays #1 catching prospect and #12 prospect in the system by Jays Journal . There is no need to rush him to the majors with Dioner Navarro signed through 2015 and giving the Blue Jays everything they were hoping for when he was signed in the off-season. With such a premium placed on quality catching prospects, is it possible that Jimenez could be included in a deal to strengthen the Toronto Blue Jays?

How do Jimenez and Chung compare?

Age: Jimenez is 24 and Chung is 26. Advantage…. Jimenez is more advanced with 2 year to play with.

More from Toronto Blue Jays Prospects

Bat: Both players are similar. Neither will hit for much power, but both have demonstrated an ability to drive the ball for extra base hits. Advantage…..Jimenez….just because he has more experience.

Approach: Jimenez is a free swinger striking out more than 15% of the time. Jimenez has a 0.32 BB/K rate in Double-A and 0.21 BB/K in Triple-A in 2014. Chung has shown a better approach at the plate than Jimenez with 0.95 BB/K in Dunedin and a 0.25 BB/K in limited time with the Fisher Cats. In 3 seasons Chung has a .356 OBP compared to Jimenez .318. Advantage….Chung

Fielding: Both players have strong, accurate arms. Both guys field their position well preventing passed balls and limiting errors. Advantage…Jimenez has played the position for 7 minor league season and by all reports has the strong arm.

Durability: Jimenez missed most of 2012 with TJ surgery. Jimenez appeared in 54 games in 2013, starting the season on the DL. Jimenez spent some time on the DL with hamstring issues, most recently in April of the year. Chung has been very durable and has not spent any time on the DL. Advantage….Chung, though I would like to see how he holds up after a couple seasons catching.

Jimenez still projects to be a better prospect than Chung, but Chung is charging fast. The farm system has another catching prospect making his up the ladder in Santiago Nessy who was rated 22nd by Jays Journal. The Jays have yet to sign Max Pentecost, but if they do he will instantly get the ‘Catcher of the Future’ label. So trading A.J. Jimenez would not cripple the future catching situation, since it appears that Chung would be able to fill-in quit nicely.

Some pictures from Derrick Chung’s days with Alaska Goldpanners.

A good interview with Derrick Chung….he has a sense of humor.