The Blue Jays have a lot of young and talented catching depth, and the best learning experience the club can offer is a chance to work with Hyun Jin Ryu.
The soon-to-be 34 year old was one of the best pitchers in the American League during last year’s 60-game season, finishing 3rd behind in Cy Young voting. That was after posting two seasons as one of the best starters in the National League, evidenced by his 2nd place finish in Cy Young voting in 2019, and even earning MVP votes that year.
The Blue Jays are lucky to have one of the best pure pitchers in baseball on their roster, both for what he brings to the stat sheet, but also for the guidance he’ll provide to the club’s treasure trove of talented young catchers. Between Danny Jansen, Alejandro Kirk, Gabriel Moreno, Reese McGuire, and Riley Adams, the Jays are in an enviable position both now and in the future behind the plate. And Ryu could be an important factor in getting the best out of them.
Jansen made an appearance on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM on Tuesday, and he absolutely gushed when he was asked about working with the Blue Jays’ ace. The pair have only had a short 60-game season to get acquainted with each other so far, but it’s pretty clear that Ryu has left an impression on the 25 year old receiver.
"“When I catch his bullpens, it’s like sitting in a reclining chair. He’s got the quietness, and in a way competitiveness that takes over. You know, when he has the ball, he’s got the ball and he’s going to take you as long as he can go. He’s not going to want to give it up either, the ball, you know what I mean? He’s that kind of guy.”"
“Sitting in a reclining chair” is quite the analogy, but it’s also a pretty nice compliment for the veteran southpaw. Ryu’s presence obviously puts Jansen at ease, and I’m sure he makes his job easier too. To that end:
"“He’s very intelligent, he does his homework, he has a game plan, he does a great job expressing it to me. That’s something that we developed as we went on getting that trust with each other and just getting a feel for each other. So we were able to talk about it easier, and how we want to attack guys. He’s got a lot pitches, and he can kinda do whatever he wants with them all. That was a challenge for me at first, just really getting on the same page with him. I know the first couple of games even, just still trying to get on the page with him and he wants to do. But now we have this trust coming into this year, we have, obviously a 60-game season, but a season under our belts with each other and that’s huge for us. He brings it every night, even when he’s not pitching he’s there, supportive, and he wants to win. So, it’s awesome.”"
What else could you want to hear from a teammate?
This kind of praise is even more important coming from a still fairly inexperienced MLB catcher. He’s getting a chance to see what it takes to be among the very best at your craft, and it’s only going to make him a better catcher, and all-around baseball player. Ryu is bound to teach him a lot about pre-game preparation, studying game film, how to attack hitters with different weapons, and maybe most of all, poise.
With Ryu still under contract for three more seasons (he’s a free agent after the 2023 campaign), chances are that Alejandro Kirk, and even Gabriel Moreno will get the chance to work with him at some point as well, even if that doesn’t come this spring. It’s just another benefit to signing an ace to lead your rotation, and thankfully the Blue Jays have a good one.