9:01AM: The Jays have officially announced that Jansen has been promoted (via their team PR Twitter), with Solarte going on the 10-day DL with his right oblique injury.
8:05AM: The Blue Jays are expected to call up top catching prospect Danny Jansen, Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi reports. Jansen will take the roster spot of Yangervis Solarte, who suffered an oblique injury in yesterday’s game and is very likely headed for the disabled list. In addition to Jansen, the Jays are also expected to promote right-hander Sean Reid-Foley for his Major League debut on Monday in a start against the Royals.
Jansen, 23, was Toronto’s pick in the 16th round of the 2013 amateur draft. Thanks in part to a pair of hand injuries, Jansen’s first few pro seasons were fairly uneventful, though he broke out as a prospect to watch after a big 2017 season that saw him rise from high-A ball to Triple-A Buffalo. Jansen has continued to impress at the Triple-A level this year, hitting .275/.390/.473 with 12 homers over 360 plate appearances, racking up nearly as many walks (44) as strikeouts (49).
This quick development earned Jansen some notice in the prospect charts, with Baseball America’s midseason top-100 prospect ranking placing Jansen 71st, while MLB.com ranked him 73rd in its own top 100. The scouting reports on both sites give Jansen more credit for his offense than his defense, citing his good contact skills, plate discipline, and power potential (which BA says could lead to 10-15 homers a year at the big league level). From a defensive standpoint, Jansen has improved to the point that he looks at least solid at many aspects of catching, though in the words of MLB.com’s report, “his catch-and-throw skills may never be better than average.”
The Jays already have Russell Martin and Luke Maile as their regular catching combo, though Martin’s ability to play second and third base will allow him to essentially take over Solarte’s infield duties while Jansen gets regular playing time behind the plate. This early audition will help the Jays determine if Jansen could be ready for the starting job as early as next season, which could make Maile an expendable piece this winter. Martin’s $20MM salary for 2019 makes him essentially unmovable in a trade, so unless the Blue Jays are willing to just eat that contract, it is more likely Martin will be kept around as a veteran mentor for the young Jansen. (Martin’s ability to play a hybrid backup catcher/infielder role could also make Toronto more apt to pass on Solarte’s $5.5MM club option for 2019.)
Reid-Foley was himself a member of top-100 prospect lists prior to the 2017 season (MLB.com 64th, Baseball America 75th, Baseball Prospectus 85th) before his stock fell posting a 5.09 ERA over 132 2/3 Double-A innings last year. He bounced back this season to pitch much better in Double-A and earned himself a promotion, with the righty then posting a 3.50 ERA, 10.3 K/9, and 3.48 K/BB rate over 82 1/3 frames for Triple-A Buffalo.
Reid-Foley was a second-round pick in the 2014 draft, and the 22-year-old has long been seen as a future member of the Blue Jays rotation prior to his hiccups in 2017. Davidi notes that the decision to promote Reid-Foley was made “after days of deliberations,” though with the Jays well out of the playoff race and short on reliable starters to eat innings for the rest of the year, it makes sense to give Reid-Foley his first taste of Major League action. With at least two rotation spots up for grabs in the 2019 rotation, a good showing over the next six weeks will give Reid-Foley a leg up on earning a job next season.