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Kekai Rios Takes Pride in his Defensive Play

Kekai Rios Takes Pride in his Defensive Play

April 12, 2023

Photo credit: Nick Guenther

Catcher Kekai Rios is a solid defensive backstop that the Toronto Blue Jays picked up in the Rule 5 Draft last December.

Rios, who has a career .995 fielding% behind the dish takes great pride in his defensive play – as he considers himself a leader on the field.

“First and foremost being a leader out there,” Rios explained about his defense. “The catching position is like being the quarterback of a football team. The biggest thing I learned in pro ball is taking care of your pitchers. Guys got to want to throw to you. You have to care about them and their stuff. The better they’re getting each at-bat, the better you’re getting too. That could be your ticket to the big leagues right there.”

“That has been my biggest takeaway in pro ball besides blocking, receiving, and throwing,” Rios added. “No matter how I’m hitting, I know I’m going to go out there every day and play solid D.”

Currently 2-for-4 at the plate for Double-A New Hampshire, Rios has adjusted his plate approach since turning pro.

“It has been a work in progress for sure,” stated Rios. “You’re facing a Friday night college guy every night in pro ball. In college Saturday and Sunday guys were throwing upper-80s, but here you’re facing guys who are going to attack you with good pitches. I feel like I’ve gotten better every year since turning pro.”

“I went through a little swing adjustment last year with the Dodgers,” Rios added. “Since joining the Blue Jays, I’m back to my middle approach and I feel good about it.”

Rios is also getting to know the pitching staff of the Fisher Cats, “It’s a continual growing relationship,” said Rios. “Some of the guys here I’ve never caught before so it’s still a learning process for me. But I’m trying to create that relationship and that bond. I want to be the best I can be for them out there. I want to know what their pitches do, I want them to pitch to me, and I want to have my heart in the right spot for them. We’ve been having conversations and I’ve been catching a lot of bullpens to get to know these guys quickly.”

Welcome, Kekai Rios!