Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sleeper Prospect: Catcher Brian Jeroloman

One of the often forgotten prospects in the Jays' minor league system of late has been catcher Brian Jeroloman who has seemingly fallen behind the depth chart at the position. With J.P. Arencibia a level ahead of him in AAA and arrival of Travis d'Arnaud in the Halladay deal, it may be easy to forget about the guy who was always seen as the best defensive catcher in the system.

Jeroloman, 25, was drafted in the sixth round (180th overall) in the 2006 amateur draft. As a left-handed hitter he was known to work counts and draw his fair share of walks, but his calling card was his defence. These trends continued until last year when he seemed to struggle:

This year, however, he is leading the eastern league in OPS (1.005). This is heavily supported by an amazing .468 OBP, but he also finds himself seventh in the league with a .537 SLG.

Jeroloman has routinely found himself batting ninth in the Fisher Cats lineup where he gets on base for the top of the lineup and doesn't get a lot of opportunities to drive in runs.

While working deep into counts Jeroloman has been prone to the strikeout, but that is acceptable as long as he is laying off pitchers pitches and driving the one he is capable of hitting. 

He has continued throwing out runners well at a 32% rate which could very well rise (he threw out 43% last year). 

If there is another concern it has to be his righty/lefty splits:

I am not sure how to check if left-handers have given him this much trouble in the past (+50% K rate in 2010), but he will have to improve against them if he wants to become an everyday catcher at the big league level.

Jeroloman is a catcher to keep an eye on in the minor leagues. I believe that he is a player that could reach the bigs quicker than Arencibia. John Buck is tearing up left-handed pitchers to this point and they could form a nice one-two punch in the future.