Blue Jays add catching depth, sign Jamie Ritchie to minor league contract

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After previously signing 33-year-old Rob Brantly and 28-year-old Steve Berman to minor league contracts, the Toronto Blue Jays needed at least one more catcher to shore up the depth in the minors.

On Friday, the club signed another minor league journeyman to a minors deal, catcher Jamie Ritchie, per source.

Ritchie, 29, follows a similar player profile that some of the other depth additions before him have in that he is a low-power bat that plays solid defense.

Drafted in the 13th-round of the 2014 MLB Draft by the Astros, Ritchie stayed in Houston's system from 2014 to 2019, functioning as a backup catcher primarily in Double-A and Triple-A. He joined the Diamondbacks in 2021 and after having one of his better seasons in the game, he spent 2022 in the Pittsburgh Pirates system.

In 35 games last year, Ritchie had 24 hits in 120 plate appearances with only four of them going for extra bases. He doesn't carry a whole lot of pop in his stick but he has an incredible eye at the plate, routinely walking more than striking out. Last season he drew 21 walks and struck out just 20 times.

Patience at the plate is the name of the game for Ritchie, as he has 363 walks and 419 strikeouts in eight minor league seasons. He also has a .284 batting average in that time, so he is a strong contact hitter as well.

On defense, Ritchie obviously calls catcher his position by trade. However, he has a ton of experience at first base over the years (70 games, 580 innings) and even began to expirement as a left fielder in each of the past two seasons. This positional versatility undoubtedly played a role in the Jays' interest in him as the club is known for loving flexible players.

It remains to be seen whether any of the minor league signings will amount to much at the big league level for the Jays. Injuries are always a possibility so one of Brantly or Ritchie will be first in line to replace either Alejandro Kirk or Danny Jansen in the event of a trip to the injured list.

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