Klein Staying The Course

Vancouver Canadians catcher Dan Klein saw both ups and downs in his first full season with the Toronto Blue Jays organization. The 22-year-old was selected in the 28th round of the 2012 draft and was thrilled to be assigned to the Northwest League for his professional baseball baptism.

Klein battled to find consistency with the Canadians. In July he showed great promise, hitting .289 with a .393 on-base percentage but finished the season with a disappointing .207 average and a .319 OBP. Coming from Kansas State, he was not used to facing professional quality pitching on a regular basis.

"In the Big 12 we had really good pitchers but you would see them once a weekend and that would be it," Klein said. "Here every single pitcher you see, the starters [or] out of the bullpen they're all going to be throwing low 90s, they're all going to have three pitches to work with."

Canadians manager Clayton McCullough describes Klein as a catcher with all the requisite qualities to become above average defensively. The next step for Klein is to focus in on the details and maximize his raw abilities.

"He's a very athletic guy. He moves good behind the plate, he's a very flexible kid which allows him to get down into a good blocking position, and he's got enough arm," McCullough said. "He's got the tools to be a solid defensive catcher, it's just a matter of playing more and kind of learning the nuance of catching at the professional level versus college."

One of the adjustments is catching for more advanced pitchers. Klein has thoroughly enjoyed the experience of being able to put together a more complex game plan.

"You're not really working with the young guys anymore, you're going to have guys that have pitched at a high level for three or four years," Klein said. "Even the new guys here they have the command, they're ready to pitch and it makes my job pretty easy behind the dish.

"It makes it a little easier on me. You're able to look at the scouting report for the opposing team and you know you can really go off that and if somebody can't hit a slider or somebody is bad on changeups most of the pitchers you're going to have are going to be able to throw that during the game so it makes your job pretty easy."

McCullough spent four seasons as a catcher in the Cleveland Indians system before making the transition to the dugout. He brings a wealth of knowledge and has great advice for Klein and all of the catchers making their way through the minor leagues.

"Game calling is huge. You have to be a little more creative and figure out what's going to work that day for that guy to help him get as many outs as he can, and to give the starter the chance to go deep into the game on days when he doesn't have his best stuff.

"In the lower levels, sometimes things are expected from the starters, like X amount of changeups or curveballs or we need to throw it more, that's part of what goes into that game plan beforehand," McCullough said.

"Sometimes you sacrifice a guy having a really good outing to you know what at the end of the day so and so needs to develop this pitch so he needs to throw it even if he's going to give up some runs. As you go up does it become a little easier well the pitchers are able but the hitters get better and you have to pay attention more to swings or situations those things become prevalent at the higher levels."

Klein has taken his first season in the professional game and has absorbed as much as possible. He grasps what he needs to improve on defensively while striving to develop his offensive game.

"I'm working with [Canadians hitting coach Dave] Pano on my swing, my swing is feeling great. You know hitting-wise you may be feeling really good at the plate but you may not get the results," Klein concluded. "It's kind of not product but it's just staying the course and doing what you can at the plate that works the results."


Future Jays Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nKlein battled to find consistency with the Canadians. In July he showed great promise, hitting .289 with a .393 on-base percentage but finished the season with a disappointing .207 average and a .319 OBP. Coming from Kansas State, he was not used to facing professional quality pitching on a regular basis.
\r\n
\r\n\"In the Big 12 we had really good pitchers but you would see them once a weekend and that would be it,\" Klein said. \"Here every single pitcher you see, the starters [or] out of the bullpen they're all going to be throwing low 90s, they're all going to have three pitches to work with.\"
\r\n
\r\nCanadians manager Clayton McCullough describes Klein as a catcher with all the requisite qualities to become above average defensively. The next step for Klein is to focus in on the details and maximize his raw abilities.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's a very athletic guy. He moves good behind the plate, he's a very flexible kid which allows him to get down into a good blocking position, and he's got enough arm,\" McCullough said. \"He's got the tools to be a solid defensive catcher, it's just a matter of playing more and kind of learning the nuance of catching at the professional level versus college.\"
\r\n
\r\nOne of the adjustments is catching for more advanced pitchers. Klein has thoroughly enjoyed the experience of being able to put together a more complex game plan.
\r\n
\r\n\"You're not really working with the young guys anymore, you're going to have guys that have pitched at a high level for three or four years,\" Klein said. \"Even the new guys here they have the command, they're ready to pitch and it makes my job pretty easy behind the dish.
\r\n
\r\n\"It makes it a little easier on me. You're able to look at the scouting report for the opposing team and you know you can really go off that and if somebody can't hit a slider or somebody is bad on changeups most of the pitchers you're going to have are going to be able to throw that during the game so it makes your job pretty easy.\"
\r\n
\r\nMcCullough spent four seasons as a catcher in the Cleveland Indians system before making the transition to the dugout. He brings a wealth of knowledge and has great advice for Klein and all of the catchers making their way through the minor leagues.
\r\n
\r\n\"Game calling is huge. You have to be a little more creative and figure out what's going to work that day for that guy to help him get as many outs as he can, and to give the starter the chance to go deep into the game on days when he doesn't have his best stuff.
\r\n
\r\n\"In the lower levels, sometimes things are expected from the starters, like X amount of changeups or curveballs or we need to throw it more, that's part of what goes into that game plan beforehand,\" McCullough said.
\r\n
\r\n\"Sometimes you sacrifice a guy having a really good outing to you know what at the end of the day so and so needs to develop this pitch so he needs to throw it even if he's going to give up some runs. As you go up does it become a little easier well the pitchers are able but the hitters get better and you have to pay attention more to swings or situations those things become prevalent at the higher levels.\"
\r\n
\r\nKlein has taken his first season in the professional game and has absorbed as much as possible. He grasps what he needs to improve on defensively while striving to develop his offensive game.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm working with [Canadians hitting coach Dave] Pano on my swing, my swing is feeling great. You know hitting-wise you may be feeling really good at the plate but you may not get the results,\" Klein concluded. \"It's kind of not product but it's just staying the course and doing what you can at the plate that works the results.\"
\r\n
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