Blue Jays: Danny Jansen’s Prospect Status is Only Getting Better
Danny Jansen’s meteoric rise through the Blue Jays depth chart was well documented, and often discussed last year. Encouragingly for the Blue Jays, the catcher has backed up these strong numbers in Triple-A this year.
Danny Jansen, who was selected in the sixteenth round of the 2013 draft, never had eye-popping offensive numbers through the minor leagues. However, the Blue Jays continually touted the offensive upside that they saw in the young catcher. Last year, when it was discovered he needed glasses to see the ball, the twenty-three-year-old exploded, posting a slash line of .323/.400/.484 across three levels—fully delivering on the promise the Blue Jays saw in him.
As a result of this excellent season, the Blue Jays placed Jansen on their 40-man roster, making his jump to the majors easier. Starting in Triple-A out of spring training, the young catcher has delivered, posting a great .297/.408/.469 slash line with four home runs and 37 RBIs.
Advanced metrics are very kind to the catching prospect, as well. Jansen’s wOBA sits at a great .394, and his wRC+ is a similarly impressive 152. For reference, the Orioles star shortstop, Manny Machado, has posted a .392 wOBA and 151 wRC+ in the majors this season. Even if you don’t like advanced metrics, it’s clear how impressive Jansen has been this season.
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Diving further into the prospects numbers, the Buffalo Bisons star only becomes more impressive. Through 51 games Jansen has only struck out 27 times, while walking 26 times. Translated into percentage, the catcher has posted a great 12.7% K-rate and impressive 12.3% BB-rate.
A further encouraging sign, the catcher has cut down on his ground balls, replacing them with line drives and fly balls. Last season, while playing 52 games in Double-A New Hampshire, Jansen produced line drives 21.4% of the time, ground balls 40.9% of the time, and fly balls 37.7% of the time.
This season, in 51 games at Triple-A, he has jumped his line drive rate to 25%, dropped his ground ball rate to 35.8%, and bumped his fly ball rate up slightly to 39.2%. The most encouraging sign among these numbers is the conversion of ground balls into line drives. If he was playing in the majors, this line drive rate would be about 4% higher than league average.
As a catcher, his defensive responsibilities are almost as, if not more, important than his hitting abilities. Jansen has made his game calling a priority since he first started with the Blue Jays. Last year, in a Sportsnet article by David Singh, both Buffalo pitching coach, Bob Stanley, and Bisons starter, Ryan Borucki, commended the catcher for his exceptional game calling.
The Bisons catcher has slipped slightly in terms of throwing out base stealers, though. While in New Hampshire last year, where he spent the most time, Jansen threw out 14 of 45 would-be base-stealers. However, this season in Buffalo, he has thrown out just five runners in 24 attempts—a drop of about 10%.
Jansen should have time to solve these issues, though, as he does not have a clear path to the majors. Luke Maile has wildly outperformed expectations offensively, blocking a path to the back-up catcher’s spot. Furthermore, barring an injury or a move to another position, Russell Martin will stay as the every-day catcher for the Blue Jays.
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The Bisons catcher could benefit from a September call-up, though. While with the major league team, he could learn from respected defensive catchers Luke Maile and Russell Martin. As well, he could try his hand at both hitting and catching major league pitching.