Red Sox vs. Blue Jays: Catching Prospects

Comparing what the Red Sox and Blue Jays have at each position in the minor leagues, we take a look at the crop of catcher prospects in each system. Which system is deeper? Which prospects have the most power? The highest ceilings? Take a look at this comparison between the two AL East farm systems.

The Two Farm Systems: The biggest difference catching-wise between the two farm systems is Toronto's top overall catching prospect is very close to being big league ready whereas Boston's has just a handful of at-bats at the rookie minor league level.

The Blue Jays' Travis D'Arnaud not only represents the catching prospect in either organization with the highest ceiling, but Double-A tested and doing extremely well there, he is also the closest to having an impact at the Major League level. An excellent catch-and-throw guy, he has above average to plus power, can hit for average, and he's a good team leader. If he can make drawing walks more of a priority, which is really the only weakness in his game, he has big league All Star potential.

Boston's top two catching prospects, Ryan Lavarnway and Blake Swihart, conversely, both have defensive question marks. There's no doubt that Lavarnway can hit and hit for power, clubbing 34 home runs over three levels in 2011, but he has real defensive limitations behind the plate. Like Lavarnway, the soon to be 20-year old Swihart projects to be an impact offensive player. He doesn't have quite the same power as Lavarnway, but the switch-hitter could be a special hitter for average. Like Lavarnway though, the arm strength is good but there are some questions as to whether or not he can develop defensively in the other areas or if his bat would be better preserved at another position.

Both Toronto and Boston have intriguing catchers at the A-ball level. A.J. Jimenez of the Blue Jays is a superb catch-and-throw guy blessed with a plus arm, great blocking skills, and he can not only swing the bat but his strike zone discipline is way advanced. His only limiting factor is his below average power potential. Behind Jimenez is Carlos Perez. Not quite the same defensive player or nearly adept at handling the bat, he offers a bit more power potential and the defensive game projects to allow him to stick at catcher.

Perhaps the most underrated catching prospect not only in either farm system but perhaps in all of baseball is Boston's Christian Vazquez. Pretty much the equal defensively of Jimenez outside of blocking balls, Vazquez has much better power offensively and shows a good approach at the plate. His power isn't very projectable long-term given his smaller stature [5-9, 195], but it's good average 'now' power.

Each farm system has a wild card at the catcher's position that will take some time to develop. Boston's Jordan Weems is a tall, lean catcher and has a pretty good swing from the left side. He has a lot of room to fill out too and that will be the tell-tale sign in how far his power develops. Toronto's Santiago Nessy is a bit of a long-term project but for different reasons. A big-bodied catcher cut in the mold of former Yankees' catching prospect Jesus Montero, Nessy can swing the bat and hit for power. Defensively, while he has shown some nimbleness behind the plate and the kind of athleticism needed to stick there long-term, how he handles his conditioning in the coming years could be a limiting factor if he's not careful.

Both Toronto and Boston have catchers who, while they don't project to be everyday big league regulars, each have solid power and an overall defensive game that could make them both quality big league backup catchers. Toronto's Yan Gomes clubbed 13 home runs in just 276 at-bats for Double-A New Hampshire last year and Boston's Dan Butler hit 25 doubles and 12 home runs in 381 at-bats spread over three different levels in 2011. They won't be top prospects but they can still impact their respective big league teams.

How Do They Compare In...

Power: Where Lavarnway winds up position-wise will have a lot to say in the comparison of the farm systems. If he winds up a designated hitter as most scouts tend to believe, it gives the Red Sox an unfair advantage in the power department but for now he's a catcher. Even though Travis d'Arnaud's power is legit and Santiago Nessy has the look of a potential power hitter in due time, and perhaps Carlos Perez will add some power too, the Sox have a slight advantage with Lavarnway, Vazquez, and the long-term potential of Swihart and Weems. Advantage: Red Sox

Hitting For Average: This is where it's a dead heat right now. Lavarnway, Butler, and Vazquez can hit for a solid average, but d'Arnaud is a very good hitter and so is A.J. Jimenez. Santiago Nessy can also hit. Swihart projects to arguably be the best of the bunch but d'Arnaud is nearly big league ready right now so he offsets the bit of lower level depth by the Sox. Advantage: Even

Defense: Both Boston's Christian Vazquez and Dan Butler are really good defensively. In fact they're better than folks realize, but it's tough to compete right now with d'Arnaud's great overall defensive game and A.J. Jimenez right behind him as elite catch and throw guys. The Jays have the better stable of defensive catchers right now. Advantage: Blue Jays.

Speed: Catchers are not impact runners most of the time, but both systems have some athleticism in their backstops that could prove to be decent runners. Advantage: Even.

Overall Potential: All things being equal it's always prudent to go more with the sure thing. While Swihart has a huge ceiling, especially with the bat, so does Toronto's Santiago Nessy ceiling-wise. Weems is a good long-term catching prospect for Boston too and Vazquez might be the best of the bunch at the lower minor league levels in either farm system, but Travis d'Arnaud is a lock to be an impact player on both sides of the ball and he is knocking on the big league door. Until he loses his prospect status the Jays have the edge here. Advantage: Blue Jays.

Highest Ceilings: Travis d'Arnaud (Blue Jays), Blake Swihart (Red Sox), Ryan Lavarnway (Red Sox), Christian Vazquez (Red Sox), Carlos Perez (Blue Jays)

Best Power: Ryan Lavarnway (Red Sox), Travis d'Arnaud (Blue Jays), Santiago Nessy (Blue Jays), Christian Vazquez (Red Sox), Blake Swihart (Red Sox)

Best Average: Travis d'Arnaud (Blue Jays), Blake Swihart (Red Sox), A.J. Jimenez (Blue Jays), Ryan Lavarnway (Red Sox), Christian Vazquez (Red Sox)

Best Defense: Travis d'Arnaud (Blue Jays), A.J. Jimenez (Blue Jays), Christian Vazquez (Red Sox), Dan Butler (Red Sox), Carlos Perez (Blue Jays)

Best Speed: A.J. Jimenez (Blue Jays), Carlos Perez (Blue Jays), Blake Swihart (Red Sox), Travis d'Arnaud (Blue Jays), Jordan Weems (Red Sox).


Diehard Magazine Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nThe Two Farm Systems: The biggest difference catching-wise between the two farm systems is Toronto's top overall catching prospect is very close to being big league ready whereas Boston's has just a handful of at-bats at the rookie minor league level.
\r\n
\r\nThe Blue Jays' Travis D'Arnaud not only represents the catching prospect in either organization with the highest ceiling, but Double-A tested and doing extremely well there, he is also the closest to having an impact at the Major League level. An excellent catch-and-throw guy, he has above average to plus power, can hit for average, and he's a good team leader. If he can make drawing walks more of a priority, which is really the only weakness in his game, he has big league All Star potential.
\r\n
\r\nBoston's top two catching prospects, Ryan Lavarnway and Blake Swihart, conversely, both have defensive question marks. There's no doubt that Lavarnway can hit and hit for power, clubbing 34 home runs over three levels in 2011, but he has real defensive limitations behind the plate. Like Lavarnway, the soon to be 20-year old Swihart projects to be an impact offensive player. He doesn't have quite the same power as Lavarnway, but the switch-hitter could be a special hitter for average. Like Lavarnway though, the arm strength is good but there are some questions as to whether or not he can develop defensively in the other areas or if his bat would be better preserved at another position.
\r\n
\r\nBoth Toronto and Boston have intriguing catchers at the A-ball level. A.J. Jimenez of the Blue Jays is a superb catch-and-throw guy blessed with a plus arm, great blocking skills, and he can not only swing the bat but his strike zone discipline is way advanced. His only limiting factor is his below average power potential. Behind Jimenez is Carlos Perez. Not quite the same defensive player or nearly adept at handling the bat, he offers a bit more power potential and the defensive game projects to allow him to stick at catcher.
\r\n
\r\nPerhaps the most underrated catching prospect not only in either farm system but perhaps in all of baseball is Boston's Christian Vazquez. Pretty much the equal defensively of Jimenez outside of blocking balls, Vazquez has much better power offensively and shows a good approach at the plate. His power isn't very projectable long-term given his smaller stature [5-9, 195], but it's good average 'now' power.
\r\n
\r\nEach farm system has a wild card at the catcher's position that will take some time to develop. Boston's Jordan Weems is a tall, lean catcher and has a pretty good swing from the left side. He has a lot of room to fill out too and that will be the tell-tale sign in how far his power develops. Toronto's Santiago Nessy is a bit of a long-term project but for different reasons. A big-bodied catcher cut in the mold of former Yankees' catching prospect Jesus Montero, Nessy can swing the bat and hit for power. Defensively, while he has shown some nimbleness behind the plate and the kind of athleticism needed to stick there long-term, how he handles his conditioning in the coming years could be a limiting factor if he's not careful.
\r\n
\r\nBoth Toronto and Boston have catchers who, while they don't project to be everyday big league regulars, each have solid power and an overall defensive game that could make them both quality big league backup catchers. Toronto's Yan Gomes clubbed 13 home runs in just 276 at-bats for Double-A New Hampshire last year and Boston's Dan Butler hit 25 doubles and 12 home runs in 381 at-bats spread over three different levels in 2011. They won't be top prospects but they can still impact their respective big league teams.
\r\n
\r\nHow Do They Compare In...
\r\n
\r\nPower: Where Lavarnway winds up position-wise will have a lot to say in the comparison of the farm systems. If he winds up a designated hitter as most scouts tend to believe, it gives the Red Sox an unfair advantage in the power department but for now he's a catcher. Even though Travis d'Arnaud's power is legit and Santiago Nessy has the look of a potential power hitter in due time, and perhaps Carlos Perez will add some power too, the Sox have a slight advantage with Lavarnway, Vazquez, and the long-term potential of Swihart and Weems. Advantage: Red Sox
\r\n
\r\nHitting For Average: This is where it's a dead heat right now. Lavarnway, Butler, and Vazquez can hit for a solid average, but d'Arnaud is a very good hitter and so is A.J. Jimenez. Santiago Nessy can also hit. Swihart projects to arguably be the best of the bunch but d'Arnaud is nearly big league ready right now so he offsets the bit of lower level depth by the Sox. Advantage: Even
\r\n
\r\nDefense: Both Boston's Christian Vazquez and Dan Butler are really good defensively. In fact they're better than folks realize, but it's tough to compete right now with d'Arnaud's great overall defensive game and A.J. Jimenez right behind him as elite catch and throw guys. The Jays have the better stable of defensive catchers right now. Advantage: Blue Jays.
\r\n
\r\nSpeed: Catchers are not impact runners most of the time, but both systems have some athleticism in their backstops that could prove to be decent runners. Advantage: Even.
\r\n
\r\nOverall Potential: All things being equal it's always prudent to go more with the sure thing. While Swihart has a huge ceiling, especially with the bat, so does Toronto's Santiago Nessy ceiling-wise. Weems is a good long-term catching prospect for Boston too and Vazquez might be the best of the bunch at the lower minor league levels in either farm system, but Travis d'Arnaud is a lock to be an impact player on both sides of the ball and he is knocking on the big league door. Until he loses his prospect status the Jays have the edge here. Advantage: Blue Jays.
\r\n
\r\nHighest Ceilings: Travis d'Arnaud (Blue Jays), Blake Swihart (Red Sox), Ryan Lavarnway (Red Sox), Christian Vazquez (Red Sox), Carlos Perez (Blue Jays)
\r\n
\r\nBest Power: Ryan Lavarnway (Red Sox), Travis d'Arnaud (Blue Jays), Santiago Nessy (Blue Jays), Christian Vazquez (Red Sox), Blake Swihart (Red Sox)
\r\n
\r\nBest Average: Travis d'Arnaud (Blue Jays), Blake Swihart (Red Sox), A.J. Jimenez (Blue Jays), Ryan Lavarnway (Red Sox), Christian Vazquez (Red Sox)
\r\n
\r\nBest Defense: Travis d'Arnaud (Blue Jays), A.J. Jimenez (Blue Jays), Christian Vazquez (Red Sox), Dan Butler (Red Sox), Carlos Perez (Blue Jays)
\r\n
\r\nBest Speed: A.J. Jimenez (Blue Jays), Carlos Perez (Blue Jays), Blake Swihart (Red Sox), Travis d'Arnaud (Blue Jays), Jordan Weems (Red Sox).
\r\n
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