In the past few days, the Blue Jays have signed several catchers to minor league deals, stocking the upper (and lower) parts of the system with more catching. Last week, the Blue Jays signed both Wilkin Castillo and Robinzon Diaz to minor league deals while signing Cameron O’Brien just a few days ago.
Castillo was originally signed by Arizona out of the Dominican Republic and was a hitting machine in the minor leagues, making it to the majors where he played a handful of games over the 2008-2009 seasons. The 31-year-old switch hitter could hit for average but had little power, putting up a .273/.312/.392 slash line in the minor leagues. He played the 2013 and 2014 seasons in Mexico, hitting the lights out in the first but struggling in the second and returned to affiliated ball last year to play with the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians, the top farm club of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
While he has had a very versatile career, playing infield and outfield positions as well as catcher (and pitching five times for Indianapolis last year), he also had a reputation as one of the best defensive catchers in the Diamondbacks system.
Robinzon (a.k.a. Robinson) Diaz returns to the Jays after several years further afield. Yes, he’s the guy who the Blue Jays sent to Pittsburgh to complete the Jose Bautista deal. A former “Catcher of the Future” for the Blue Jays, Diaz has a similar offensive profile to Castillo in that he he’s hit for average but not power and never really took enough walks. Diaz played 44 major league games, starting in 2008 with Toronto, and while he hit .281/.306/.353 in those opportunities, he never entrenched himself in the big leagues. In parts of nine seasons in Triple-A, he’s hit .282/.310/.384 (in 398 games) and has thrown out 29% of baserunners trying to steal in both the majors and minors.
Finally, the Blue Jays signed a non-drafted free agent, Cameron (Cam) O’Brien, to a minor league deal. O’Brien is the son of former Blue Jays’ catcher Charlie O’Brien (the pioneer of the goalie style catcher’s mask) and went undrafted after two years of play at West Virginia University that followed a year at Louisville and a year at Northeast Texas Community College.
O’Brien will probably start his professional career much further down the ladder than the other two catchers. Look for him to play in Rookie Ball or for Vancouver.
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