In the years leading up to the eventual mega-swap with the New York Mets, the city of Toronto kept hearing about its up and coming blue-chip catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud. The one who was on pace to be flashing signs behind the dish for the next decade. In this flick, the role of dream-killer is played by GM Alex Anthopoulos.
There was another underlying consequence to that deal, as an automatic pressure-cooking element was immediately bestowed upon the next-in-line A.J. Jimenez. You didn’t think I was going to say J.P. Arencibia did you? What, too soon?
After his initial 18-year-old growing pains, Jimenez started to show signs of life, highlighted by a .435 slugging percentage in 301 at-bats in 2010. Followed up in 2011 by a .353 OBP in 422 plate appearances. With scouts tracking his every move last season, the young signal-caller put all his tools together in his first taste of Triple AAA life. Finishing with a .738 OPS.
Dioner Navarro is poised to take the lead-role behind the plate in 2014, and is capable of holding down the fort, but don’t let his .300 BA last year fool you. His career mark sits at .251, and it screams seat-warmer. Navarro has actually recorded WAR stats in the negative column for half his career. Let’s set the over/under now on when Navarro becomes the Toronto sports radio fall-guy. Calls for the rushed development of the young Puerto Rican should be popping off around mid-July.
A key component in that development is the fact that Jimenez already has an established rapport with the future of the Blue Jays starting rotation. Owning a working relationship and blocking cutters in the dirt from the likes of Aaron Sanchez, Marcus Stroman and Sean Nolin will go a long way when this group eventually becomes the core of this franchise.
Jimenez cannot fill d’Arnaud’s cleats, but on the days when his cannon-arm takes out the tying run attempting to steal second in the ninth, Jays fans will have a short memory.