Odds Stacked Against Maines

After more than a decade and a half-long drought when it comes to producing a bonafide backstop, Toronto is in the envious position of having a system stocked with young talented receivers and that's not counting rookie J.P. Arencibia, a former first round draft pick who has taken over the reigns of the number one job on the big league club this year.

With names like Travis d'Arnaud, A.J. Jimenez and Carlos Perez dotting the various levels of the Jays system, it would seem as though the odds are stacked against an undrafted, under-sized player with a year of independent league ball behind him.

Those are exactly the odds Garrett Maines is attempting to overcome in his first season with the Northwest League's Vancouver Canadians.

So far, the Brandon, Florida native has held his own, hitting at a .265 clip through 10 games and avoiding any prolonged slumps, something that is made all the more difficult by inconsistent playing time.

"He doesn't play everyday so when he goes in there he has that real sense of urgency to perform well and he's done that," said Canadians hitting coach Dave Pano.

"Every time he's been in he's done a good job. Typically when you're not in there you want to try and do something to stay in there and sometimes you press and try to do too much. He prepares very well when he plays."

Generously listed at five-foot-11, Maines makes no bones about his role on a club that has carried three catchers all year. He is constantly having to prove himself at the plate while juggling a new pitching staff behind it.

"I try to convince the organization to trust me," said the 24-year-old Maines, in response to his tireless work behind the plate and in the batting cages. It's been a winding road for the undrafted Maines.

After beginning his professional career in the independent Frontier League, the Jays took a chance on him, inking him and sending him to rookie ball last season. Maines believes this season, he has earned that sought-after trust.

"I know my role as a backup for now. By them trusting me behind the plate, it took some pressure off me at the plate and it's allowed me to excel. Fortunately the hard work is paying off right now."

Indeed it is, and at the perfect time.

"Right now catching-wise, we've just got to find somebody to win the job so they're all going to play," Pano said, basically declaring an open competition for the position.

It comes down to Maines and Pierce Rankin who started the year in the number one role but has scuffled at the plate of late.

If there is a competition between the pair, it doesn't show on the outside.

"We're best friends on and off the field," said Maines. "He's definitely my biggest fan on the team."

Still, after appearing in only 15 games in the Gulf Coast League last year and hitting a paltry .167, Maines has one hand firmly on the number one job in Vancouver. To relinquish it, someone is going to have to pry it away from him. It doesn't seem likely right now.

"He's aggressive, he focuses on the fastball and he doesn't miss it when he gets it," said Pano. "He's been swinging it great, no problems with him."

For Maines, he's just continuing what he's been doing at the plate all along.

"I think I'm just sticking with the same approach we've had since the beginning which is hunting fastballs," he said with a grin.


Future Jays Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nWith names like Travis d'Arnaud, A.J. Jimenez and Carlos Perez dotting the various levels of the Jays system, it would seem as though the odds are stacked against an undrafted, under-sized player with a year of independent league ball behind him.
\r\n
\r\nThose are exactly the odds Garrett Maines is attempting to overcome in his first season with the Northwest League's Vancouver Canadians.
\r\n
\r\nSo far, the Brandon, Florida native has held his own, hitting at a .265 clip through 10 games and avoiding any prolonged slumps, something that is made all the more difficult by inconsistent playing time.
\r\n
\r\n\"He doesn't play everyday so when he goes in there he has that real sense of urgency to perform well and he's done that,\" said Canadians hitting coach Dave Pano.
\r\n
\r\n\"Every time he's been in he's done a good job. Typically when you're not in there you want to try and do something to stay in there and sometimes you press and try to do too much. He prepares very well when he plays.\"
\r\n
\r\nGenerously listed at five-foot-11, Maines makes no bones about his role on a club that has carried three catchers all year. He is constantly having to prove himself at the plate while juggling a new pitching staff behind it.
\r\n
\r\n\"I try to convince the organization to trust me,\" said the 24-year-old Maines, in response to his tireless work behind the plate and in the batting cages. It's been a winding road for the undrafted Maines.
\r\n
\r\nAfter beginning his professional career in the independent Frontier League, the Jays took a chance on him, inking him and sending him to rookie ball last season. Maines believes this season, he has earned that sought-after trust.
\r\n
\r\n\"I know my role as a backup for now. By them trusting me behind the plate, it took some pressure off me at the plate and it's allowed me to excel. Fortunately the hard work is paying off right now.\"
\r\n
\r\nIndeed it is, and at the perfect time.
\r\n
\r\n\"Right now catching-wise, we've just got to find somebody to win the job so they're all going to play,\" Pano said, basically declaring an open competition for the position.
\r\n
\r\nIt comes down to Maines and Pierce Rankin who started the year in the number one role but has scuffled at the plate of late.
\r\n
\r\nIf there is a competition between the pair, it doesn't show on the outside.
\r\n
\r\n\"We're best friends on and off the field,\" said Maines. \"He's definitely my biggest fan on the team.\"
\r\n
\r\nStill, after appearing in only 15 games in the Gulf Coast League last year and hitting a paltry .167, Maines has one hand firmly on the number one job in Vancouver. To relinquish it, someone is going to have to pry it away from him.\r\nIt doesn't seem likely right now.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's aggressive, he focuses on the fastball and he doesn't miss it when he gets it,\" said Pano.\r\n\"He's been swinging it great, no problems with him.\"
\r\n
\r\nFor Maines, he's just continuing what he's been doing at the plate all along.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think I'm just sticking with the same approach we've had since the beginning which is hunting fastballs,\" he said with a grin.
\r\n
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