That the Toronto Blue Jays picked up minor league prospect Russ Canzler off waivers, at first glance, look like a decidedly minor move for depth.
Yet, the potential is there for much more.
I hesitated on writing about this at the time the move was made, mostly because I thought another move would come shortly after that would push it aside – much like how Canzler arrival ended the short stay of Mickey Storey on the Blue Jays’ 40-man roster (the team snuck him through waivers to the minors). Now that it’s been a few days, I feel that the pickup warrants a slightly closer look.
Canzler, who will turn 27 in April of 2013, isn’t fast approaching that age where the term “prospect” no longer applies. Still, he hasn’t exactly been an unknown quantity, making it onto FanGraphs’ Top 100 Fantasy Prospects for 2012, landing at #69 (three spots behind fellow bluebird David Cooper). The reason for him being on the list? That he could “make himself useful into platoons at first and third with lefty-swingers Casey Kotchman and Lonnie Chisenhall.”
Hold up, did someone mention a platoon?
As it so happens, the Blue Jays, despite having said otherwise, could use a platoon partner for Adam Lind to make him slightly less terrible at the plate. Canzler hasn’t had nearly as much major-league experience as the Blue Jays’ 1B/DH, but he’s shown good power in the minors (.219 ISO, .508 SLG over 1088 PA in AAA over the last two seasons); and while his small-sample .269/.299/.398 triple-slash with the Cleveland Indians in 2012 is unlikely to impress anyone, Canzler’s splits against lefties will likely turn a few eyeballs.
We’re getting into deep SSS territory here, but the difference is stark enough to point out. Canzler has shown an ability to hit righties thus far in his major-league career, posting a .526 OPS (over 71 PA) vs RHP. Against southpaws, however, you’re looking at a very different picture: Canzler has posted .400/.419/.667 triple slash against LHP, good for a 1.086 OPS.
Sure, those numbers come from a tiny 31 PA sample size, but it’s enough to make you notice, isn’t it?
With his lack of real on-base skills, I don’t expect Canzler to be given a shot to be a platoon partner for Lind out of the gate. Yet, with the ability to play at both corners of the infield and outfield, Canzler could quickly find himself an opportunity to be useful on the Blue Jays bench as a utility man next season.
And, assuming that all goes as expected with the plan to bat Lind against both RHP and LHP (hint: not very well), it won’t be long before the team takes a look at a Canzler (and Rajai Davis) as a potential platoon-mate for Lind.
Will he come out smashing big-league lefties to a tune of a 1.000+ OPS? Doubt it. Will he be better than Lind at doing so? Almost certainly.