Premature Excitation: Toronto Blue Jays C Santiago Nessy
Santiago Nessy isn’t exactly a household name. He has never been considered among the top 20 prospects in the Toronto Blue Jays organization, only appearing as an honorable mention among Jays’ prospects on notable prospect lists, which would place him somewhere among the 30-40 best prospects for the Blue Jays. His name has appeared well behind fellow catching prospect, Carlos Perez (pictured above), on every top prospects list for the Jays. That will change on 2013 boards should Nessy continue to mash minor league pitching.
Perhaps you are wondering why I’ve awkwardly shoved a picture of Perez into this piece. Well, the reason is twofold. Nessy is in rookie ball, so U.S. Presswire has yet to snap a picture of him for their database. In these situations, I would generally resort to a picture of the mastermind behind the acquisition of the young talent featured, Alex Anthopoulos. Unfortunately, Anthopoulos was not yet the general manager of the Blue Jays when Nessy was signed by the Blue Jays. So, ta-da! I give you Carlos Perez.
Anyway, if you haven’t heard of Santiago Nessy, you’re about to find out why there is good reason to get excited about this young catcher out of Venezuela, plenty more justification than there is for Carlos Perez.
The Jays signed Nessy as an international free agent in 2009 for $750K. He’s quite large for a catcher, standing 6’3” and weighing 230 lbs and has been heralded for his outstanding raw power. While big-bodied catchers have seen success in the past, Nessy looks the part of a slugging first basemen. His weight is evenly distributed throughout his body, so he has a thick but not overweight build.
While Nessy may eventually need to make the move to first, it isn’t his body that will prohibit him from playing catcher in the future. His defensive skills need substantial improvement. If he can stick at catcher, it will be a huge plus for the Blue Jays. If not, there is still plenty of reason to get excited about the bat, within which the power has been compared to Jesus Montero. That bat will be the focus of this profile.
Nessy was born in 1992 but he won’t turn 20 until December. He’s entering his third year in the Blue Jays system for the Bluefield Blue Jays in the Appalachian League after spending his first year in the Dominican Summer League and last year in the Gulf Coast League.
In his first year of professional baseball as a 17-year old, Nessy hit 12 doubles in 141 at-bats, but only 2 home runs. He had the doubles power, but the home runs expected out of that large frame lagged behind. He hit .248/.327/.376 that year.
Last year, the hits came along, and Nessy hit .306/.347/.425 in 134 at-bats. Unfortunately, the power didn’t progress, and Nessy hit just 7 doubles and 3 home runs.
This year has been a completely different story. Despite spending much of the early part of the season on the disabled list with a hamstring issue, Nessy has come back strong and hit like one would expect from a man of his size. Nessy has now played in 5 games since coming off of the disabled list and has 3 home runs and a double in those 5 games. In just 7 games, Nessy has matched his 2011 season total for home runs.
This is Premature Excitation, so be wary of the sample size. Nessy has only played in 7 games thus far. In those 7 games, he’s hit .296/.333/.704. In his first two professional seasons, Nessy took his time to heat up. This year he’s come out of the gate on fire, and it appears that his power has finally begun to mirror his body.
This is the power that scouts expected out of Nessy when he was signed by the Jays in 2009. This is the power that has brought about comparisons to young slugger Jesus Montero.
Nessy still has problems to sort out, as most players his age do. He still walks less than one would like to see, but his plate discipline has improved over the past two seasons nevertheless. Nessy has been more selective in his approach at the plate, so while the walks haven’t come along, his power numbers may be improving as a result of a more mature approach at the plate. Of course, the defensive concerns also linger, but if Nessy can hit, his bat will make it into a major league lineup regardless of position.
We’ll continue to keep an eye on Santiago Nessy as the season wears on. If he keeps hitting the way that he has, it seems likely that he’ll be featured on the Prospect Hot Sheet, found here on RantSports.com, for many Sundays to come.
Premature Excitation is a new column/project that I have decided to embark on in which I will attempt to get Blue Jays nation, and prospect followers everywhere, excited about young prospects far before we have any concrete idea of how successful they will be as they move through the system. It will be all the more rewarding when the prospects covered here achieve success at higher levels and, eventually, reach the major leagues. I hope that you enjoy following their journey as much as I do.
Charles Davis is a baseball writer for RantSports.com with a primary focus on the Toronto Blue Jays, their farm system, and prospect league-wide. Read his articles and keep up with this column here and follow him on Twitter @CPDavis90