After three consecutive injury-plagued seasons, Danny Jansen is on his way to achieving his primary goal this season: staying healthy. Staying on the field and hitting the ball hard, he’s been able to ride the wave of his dramatic season all the way to Buffalo.
Jansen, 22, is now in his fifth season in the Toronto Blue Jays’ organization but it’s really been the first year since his draft year, spent in the Gulf Coast League, in which Jansen has been able to capitalize on the potential and talent he has. Drafted in the 16th-round of the 2013 draft, Jansen was a high-school draftee from Wisconsin, a cold-weather state which limits the amount of ball that potential professionals are able to play throughout the year. Jansen came on our radar after his second year, in 2014, when he hit .282/.390/.484 in 38 games with Bluefield before injuring his knee on a play at the plate.
Jansen also missed extended periods of time over the next two seasons due to hand injuries that limited him to 53 and 57 games in 2015 and 2016 respectively. Finally, in 2017, Jansen has been able to put everything together, getting some glasses to help his vision, staying on the field, and playing 86 games over the first four months of the season, splitting his time between Dunedin and New Hampshire with a recent call up to Buffalo. He’s hitting .324/.398/.469 on the season and has three hits in his first three games with the Bisons.
We asked Jansen about the “whirlwind” of his season and he told us “that’s just what it’s been this whole year. It’s just been a ride. It’s been riding a wave.” Jansen has been using this opportunity to learn more about the game. “It’s just kind of wild with all of the experience that’s around you. You look around the clubhouse and try to soak it all in. . . . Being here in Triple-A and having all of this experience around me, everybody that’s played for so many years. I just want to soak it all in and get better for this last month and learn more and take it and soak it all up.”
Despite the ride, Jansen’s main goal this season was to stay healthy. “That was my number one priority. Stay healthy and just continue to learn,” Jansen said. He also wants to “continue to learn the game of baseball and game calling is one of my priorities as well but definitely being healthy. I’ve missed so much time it’s been so frustrating and that’s the number one thing.”
We asked Jansen if he does anything different to stay on the field more this year. “Not so much. It’s definitely stretching. Stretching is huge,” Jansen said. “The last thing you want to have is tight legs when you’re back there. When you’ve been caching a lot, you need to stretch more but I’ve always done that. I’d say that the injuries that I’ve had are kind of freakish. A broken hamate bone that just pops. Getting hit by the bat, which was my fault for being too close in 2015. I’m definitely doing the same things. The bumps and bruises are just part of it. You’ve got to love it. You’ve got to be kind of crazy back there.”
Game calling has been one of the things that he’s been turning to teammate Mike Ohlman for advice on, particularly when he’s catching new pitchers. “That’s huge to have [Ohlman] because he’s been the backstop the whole year. . . . It’s been a huge help for me in these first two games.”
Jansen has stepped into a starting role since arriving in Buffalo and that brings with it the pressure of catching new pitchers at a different level. We asked him the difference between catching younger pitchers who threw harder in Double-A New Hampshire and more experienced pitchers in Triple-A Buffalo. Jansen noted that a lot of the guys in Double-A “can get away with throwing hard but [Triple-A] guys don’t throw as hard as them, they have to pitch. They have to know themselves and it’s a trust game between me and him, just seeing if I see something in the batter. It’s definitely experience and the guys know how to pitch here. They do [in New Hampshire] too as well, not taking anything away from them, I see they have to pitch more now because they can’t get away with throwing 99 [mph] past somebody.”
When asked if there’s less pressure to be a leader in Buffalo because of the greater experience in the pitching staff, Jansen replied, “I still want to be that leader. Still striving to be that leader and I want the trust. So if I see something, and maybe they want something else, hopefully I get the trust factor with the pitcher.”
Jansen noted that he’s having “an amazing feeling” at the plate “because I know what it’s like to struggle, . . . just finally being able to help the team offensively, that’s a great feeling.”
We hope that Danny’s “amazing feeling” continues for the rest of the season!
If you like us here, like us on Facebook!
The 2017 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook is now available! Check out the Handbook page for more information!
Now is a great time to subscribe to the Blue Jays from Away Premium Content Section!
All photos are copyright Blue Jays from Away (2013-2017) and may not be used without permission.