With Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Cavan Biggio bursting onto the scene in Toronto and right-hander Nate Pearson looming in Triple-A as a potential top-of-the-rotation arm, the Blue Jays have the makings of a strong young core. But the debuts of those three bats and the hype surrounding Pearson have overshadowed the arrival of another of Toronto’s top prospects: catcher Danny Jansen.
Jansen, 25 next week, didn’t exactly help his own cause with a tepid showing at the plate in his rookie season. The former 16th-round pick posted an ugly .207/.279/.360 batting line in 384 plate appearances — not exactly a scintillating followup to the .247/.347/.432 slash he compiled through 95 plate appearances as a late-season call-up in 2018. It’s understandable that such a forgettable performance would lead him to be overlooked, but there’s still reason to believe that Jansen can be an important piece of the Jays’ next contending club.
Firstly, it’s worth noting that despite his middling draft status, Jansen emerged as a prospect of considerable note. Prior to the 2019 campaign, Jansen ranked comfortably inside the game’s top 100 prospects according to each of Baseball America (No. 42), FanGraphs (No. 47), MLB.com (No. 65) and Baseball Prospectus (No. 89). He ranked just outside the top 100 (No. 107) on the ESPN’ rankings. During his final full season in Triple-A, Jansen hit .275/.390/.473 with a dozen homers and a 12.2 percent walk rate that only marginally trailed his 13.6 percent strikeout rate. There’s enough pedigree here to suggest improvement based on that alone.
But Jansen’s work at the plate likely wasn’t as bad as it would appear upon first glance. While he doesn’t run well enough to ever be likely to post a particularly high average on balls in play, Jansen’s .230 mark in 2019 still seems ripe for some positive regression. He’d only posted a mark lower than that once in his career — back in 2015 in a 46-game sample in Class-A. During Jansen’s final two seasons in the upper minors, his BABIP hovered around .300.