April 30, 2014
Catchers have one of the toughest jobs in baseball. They have to call a good game for the pitcher, monitor base runners, and block the plate to prevent runs from being scored. If that isn’t enough they have to still be able to get up between innings and hit. It can be a tough task for many players – but not for Blue Jays prospect Santiago Nessy.
The young catcher is looking for a healthy 2014 season as a member of the Lansing Lugnuts. Last season, Nessy was Lansing’s top catcher, but he unfortunately missed a lot of games due to a pair of injuries. Nessy was placed on the disabled list on April 23rd of last season and was reactivated on June 5th only to be returned to the DL two days later. Thankfully for Nessy, that injury didn’t last for so long as he was reactivated on June 22nd.
Once healthy, he put up a reasonably good season, posting a .241 batting average with 15 doubles and 5 home runs over 61 games. The extra base power caught the eye of 2013 Lansing Lugnuts hitting coach Kenny Graham who really enjoyed the way Nessy drove the ball.
“The majority of his home runs have been to the opposite field. It shows the kind of power he has,” Graham said, “there’s a lot of power in his swing.”
Although Nessy is known for his great bat, an area he’s under-appreciated is behind the dish. After working hard on his defence, Nessy sported an excellent .984 fielding percentage in 2013 to go with 41 assists and four double plays.
The great thing about Huckaby is his experience in the game.
“Improving my defence was a goal of mine in 2013,” explained Nessy. “I entered the season focused on improving my game calling and blocking. I feel both moved in the right direction and I improved a lot throughout the season and I’m happy with the results.”
The Venezuelan is also excited for what his 2014 season will hold in Lansing. Recognizing the log jam of catchers in the organization, Nessy is happy to be with a team in April.
“I was happy when I found out I was coming back to Lansing,” stated Nessy. “I just want to play baseball whether it was in Lansing, Dunedin, or New Hampshire. I understand it’s a process and there are a lot of guys ahead of me. I’m really excited for the team the organization has put together here in Lansing for 2014.”
Currently in Lansing, Nessy is batting .260 with three doubles, a triple, and eight RBIs to go along with an improved .373 on-base percentage. He is also sporting a 1.000 fielding percentage in 121 chances through the month of April.
More than anything, however, Nessy has enjoyed the opportunity to work with new Lugnuts hitting coach Ken Huckaby in 2014. The two have worked together in the instructional league and he’s excited to work with a former major league catcher.
“I really like working with Ken Huckaby. He’s really funny and a good guy too,” stated Nessy. “The great thing about Huckaby is his experience in the game. I feel like I can relate to him well, because he was a catcher like me. I never actually seen him play, but he has a great deal of knowledge about the position. Every day we’re working on something different. It’s great.”
Focused on helping Nessy turn the corner in his career, Huckaby is looking forward to working with the young prospect this season as he understands what it takes to advance to the next level from his own playing days.
“I think it’ll be a good year for Santiago with me here to help him,” stated Huckaby. “It’s time for Santiago to start making the transition of moving up the ladder mentally, not physically. Santiago has all the tools physically. The goal is to get him to mature on his game calling and handing a pitching staff.
“The mental side is very important for a catcher.”