Just when we thought the minor league catching situation had stabilized, the Blue Jays went and reshuffled the deck. Not only did one of the best hitters in the Florida State League get a well-earned promotion, but so did a well-liked minor league role player.
At the top levels, it has been announced that Jarrod Saltalmacchia was re-signed by the Blue Jays to a minor league deal and was assigned to Buffalo. This adds depth to a club that had been playing somewhat shorthanded for a few days at the catching position. With the promotion to the majors of Mike Ohlman and Luke Maile, Raffy Lopez was promoted to Buffalo, where he’s hit .423/.483/.769 in eight games (after posting a .999 OPS in 14 games in New Hampshire) with three doubles and two home runs. Alex Monsalve was just re-activated from the DL which means that the Bisons now have three catchers with the addition of Saltalamacchia.
In New Hampshire, Ryan Hissey and Mike Reeves, both recently promoted to the Fisher Cats were both sent back to their previous clubs with Hissey returning to Lansing and Reeves returning to Dunedin. Joining the Fisher Cats for tonight’s game (they had yesterday off) are Danny Jansen from Dunedin and Michael De La Cruz from Lansing.
Jansen has had a re-emergence at the plate this season, hitting .369/.422/.541 in 136 plate appearances, spanking six doubles and five home runs while sharing the catching duties with Max Pentecost. He hasn’t hit this well since his season in Bluefield in 2014 and is showing what he can do while healthy (and able to see the ball thanks to his glasses).
De La Cruz has been in the Jays’ system since 2013, working his way up to Dunedin last year from the DSL in his first season. De La Cruz has been in Lansing so far this year, hitting .200/.288/.244. Those numbers mean that it’ll be likely that he’ll be used as the Fisher Cats’ backup catcher for now.
In Dunedin, Mike Reeves returns and he’ll probably spend much of his time backing up Max Pentecost. Pentecost has been on fire with the bat and the Jays’ staff may have made the assessment that he’s ready to shoulder (pun intended) a larger load behind the plate. Still, Reeves hit decently both in Dunedin and New Hampshire and could use this opportunity to play more often.
Back in Lansing, Ryan Hissey returns after going 0/4 in his only game with New Hampshire. He was hitting .246/.312/.415 with the Lugnuts but had only thrown out 17% of potential base stealers. He’s backed up by Andres Sotillo who’s 1/10 in three games in Lansing, making his first appearance on a full season team since making his pro debut back in 2012.
All of this movement leaves a few questions in my mind. With Russell Martin likely coming back this week, what does that do to the catching situation in Buffalo and New Hampshire? I would figure that Mike Ohlman moves down (since the folks have really been effusive in praise of Luke Maile’s defense) to Buffalo and possible Alex Monsalve moves back to New Hampshire. But what happens when the other two catchers on the DL in NH return? I haven’t been able to find anything out about the extent of Reese McGuire‘s injury. If it’s a shorter term injury, what do you do with Danny Jansen when Reese returns? What about Patrick Cantwell, who’s also on the DL in New Hampshire? I could see De La Cruz moving down to either Dunedin or Lansing but I can’t see the Jays moving Danny Jansen if he’s hitting well.
Too many good catchers in the system is definitely a good problem to have, though!
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