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2017 Draft Preview: organizational catcher depth

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For previous entries, see the 2017 Draft Storystream

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

With the pitching side of the organization (LHPRHP) examined, we turn next to other half of the battery. The preamble/background that follows is identical to previous entries, so those familiar can skip to the next section. For each grouping, players are displayed on a chart according to both major league upside and experience level (an approximate proxy for risk). This is not an exact science, so take the positioning with a grain of salt, but it looks something like this:

position template 2

Keep in mind that "reasonable upside" is not the same as likely or base case projection, and most players at the lower levels won't come anywhere close it. Basically, if the player's development goes well, this is what he could become. And conversely, it's not an absolute ceiling either and there is potential for upside surprise. Kevin Pillar would be a prime example.

For the purposes of this exercise, I'm including not only players with rookie eligibility, but also players ~25 or under contributing or established at the major league level with 3+ years service time to give a better sense of the total organizational depth. As a general rule, I've kept players included last year for comparative purposes.

2017 catchers2

The organizational catching depth chart is significantly better than last year, despite the Blue Jays not having expended significant resources to do so. A year ago, Danny Jansen was well regarded for his work behind the plate, shown solid plate discipline and signs of raw power, and had been moved aggressively. But he hadn't actually hit much at all. Now, he's second in the FSL in hitting, which certainly raises his upside.

Likewise, Max Pentecost has progressed nicely. A year ago he had just returned to games, and now in addition to having hit well in low-A for a half season, he's hitting the same in high-A. Just as significantly as it relates to his status here, he's easing back to behind the plate as well. With all the injury setbacks, it's no guarantee he'll be an everyday catcher, but the upside if he can would be a solid hitting catcher. Even if not, he could add significant value if he could be a guy who catches a couple times a week.

The final upgrade was bringing in Reese McGuire. I don't see enough bat to be an everyday regular, but perhaps a "second division regular" type profile and if not a backup. A point of interest this offseason will be that all three of the above will be Rule 5 eligible. Will the Jays be able to warrant 40-man space for all of them, especially if none figures to be MLB ready to begin 2018 and two other slots are needed?

Luke Maile has impressed defensively, and maybe is the bridge until McGuire is ready (though it would not be surprising if he is not around in a year). Beyond that, there's not much else interesting to touch on. Javier Hernandez has a cannon behind the plate, but didn't hit at all in Vancouver last summer.

Subtracted from last year: A.J. Jimenez, Derrick Chung, Tony Sanchez (all released); Yorman Rodriguez (switch off catcher)