Yan Gomes Gets His Shot in Toronto

The Toronto Blue Jays made the shocking decision today to demote veteran first baseman Adam Lind to triple-A. In his place the organization added catcher/infielder Yan Gomes to the 40-man roster and promoted him from Las Vegas.

Make no mistake about it, the rookie will not replace Lind in the lineup. Despite outstanding surface numbers at triple-A, the Brazil native has the ceiling of a platoon/part-time player. However, I’ve softened my stance on him since the spring when I wrote about not reading too much into his small-sample numbers. After posting decent numbers at the double-A level in 2011, Gomes followed that up with solid results in the Arizona Fall League in late 2011 and then even better numbers at triple-A this year. Defensively in the minors he’s played 149 games at catcher, 29 at first base and 10 at the hot corner – grading as average-at-best at each.

His numbers at triple-A are definitely aided by the potent hitter’s environment in Las Vegas and the rest of the Pacific Coast League. He was hitting .359 with 17 extra base hits, including five homers, at the time of his promotion. His continued aggressive approach led to just six walks in 131 at-bats, good for a walk rate of 4.3% (He posted walk rates of 3.6% in high-A in ’10 but was up to 8.1% in ’11). Gomes, 24, will also need to adjust his two-strike approach at the big league level; he was hitting .595 while a head in the count at triple-A but that number plummeted to .186 while behind in the count.

A teammate of J.P. Arencibia‘s at the University of Tennessee, Gomes and Toronto’s incumbent starting catcher are friendly so that will help him fit into the clubhouse – which some observers have likened to a frat house. Gomes fits a number of club needs. He’ll serve as the third string catcher behind Arencibia and Jeff Mathis. He’ll be a better backup to third baseman Brett Lawrie than the light-hitting Omar Vizquel was and he could occasionally fill in for the equally versatile Edwin Encarnacion, who appears to be the new everyday first baseman.

Although I suggest tempering enthusiasm for Gomes’ promotion it’s not hard to envision him playing an important role on the Jays’ 25-man roster. This move also suggests that Toronto really is taking the 2012 seriously and taking a legitimate stab at competing for the wild card slots. They realized that Lind was unfortunately costing the club runs – and possibly wins. Gomes, on the other hand, should be given a legitimate shot to contribute to the team’s success going forward – or until the organization can cash in on some of its young arms, such as low-A starter Noah Syndergaard, in an effort to acquire a potent veteran bat for the middle of the lineup. An eventual promotion of Vladimir Guerrero, who’s working out in extended spring training, is another possibility.

Regardless of what happens going forward, Gomes deserves some recogniztion for working hard to develop himself into a legitimate big leaguer after being the 310th player selected (10th round) in the 2009 amateur draft and the first Brazilan born player in the majors.

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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospect analysis. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

29 Responses to “Yan Gomes Gets His Shot in Toronto”

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  1. hildebeast21 says:


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    • siggian says:

      Cooper can only play 1st, and rather poorly defensively at that. Gomes can play 3rd, as pointed out in the article, and the guy who’s sitting out for the next 4 games happens to play 3rd.

      Cooper playing 3rd would be epically bad.

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  2. CrownJew says:

    Edwin Encarnacion is versatile enough in the field that he can play virtually any position horribly. He’s already established himself as E5, but given the opportunity he could be E3-9. I don’t think he can pitch or catch.

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    • Ian R. says:

      Make that E3-DH. I’m pretty sure he’s a horrible enough fielder to make an error without actually taking the field.

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      • sc2gg says:

        You guys are beating a dead horse a bit much, eh? Encarnacion has had his bad stretches, but he’s doing better than “worst fielder in history of MLB” like he always gets made out to be.

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      • CrownJew says:

        Relax, I’m a diehard Jays fan and just poking fun at him. I do think that the risk exists that him playing the field will affect his hitting, though. It’s pretty clear that he hits better when he’s DH’ing .

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    • Doug D. says:

      Edwin’s defensive reputation has become an urban legend. He does struggle at 3B, mostly with the throwing arm. I have not seen any evidence that he struggles at 1B. In fact, I think he is the clear choice for that position, unless they decide to call up McDade.

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  3. Congo Hammer says:

    Will Gomes take over at 1B most of the time?

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  4. EdwardM says:

    AA is reported to have said that there will likely be more moves after the suspension is served so we might me seeing Cooper sooner rather than later.

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  5. Omar Little says:

    After Lawrie’s suspension:

    Gomes down, Snider up
    Snider LF
    Thames DH
    EE 1B

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    • Uh Oh Cordero says:

      Snider still seems to be recovering from that wrist injury. He’s been kinda slow since coming back.

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    • Infield Fly says:

      Too bad Rajai Davis is swinging a hot bat lately… I don’t think you can put Thames in for him until he starts to cool off. People seem to forget that Davis hit .305 with 41 stolen bases in 125 games in ’10 with Oakland

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  6. everdiso says:

    As a Jays fan, I personally found the decision to consistently play him as the full-time cleanup hitter the past 3 years was much more “shocking” than the decision to send him to the minor.s

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    • ChrisPhillies says:

      I completely agree with that statement. Let alone not being a great hitter, he is well below average for a first baseman. Although, I guess you can take the approach that really who did they have to call up? I don’t think there was a prospect ready for the past three years. On top of that, than current GM, was making his decisions with an eight ball.

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      • Cooperstown2009 says:

        We did have someone who we could bring up, but we traded him for Gose. Wallace isn’t doing great now, but anyone would be a better option than Lind.

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      • everdiso says:

        There were plenty of options, if they had accepted just how bad Lind has been for the past 3 seasons. Many waiver wire pickups would have been a better bet. From within the organization, they could easily have given kids like Snider and Cooper more playing time.

        But it’s not just that they kept starting Lind come hell or high water…..but that they kept him the cleanup spot the whole time. It was pretty embarassing, to be honest.

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    • Justin says:

      Indeed. Is there any precedent for an offensively-minded team, with the semi-realistic pretense of postseason play, having a guy go from everyday cleanup hitter to outright waivers in the course of a week?

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  7. G8R says:

    Gomes can play 3 positions. That leaves two roster spots for whomever they need at any given time. Extra pitchers in the summer are very nice to have. That is why he will have a longer stay than you think even if there is another call up.

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  8. BDBM's says:

    As a brazilian, gotta say I’m really proud of Gomes and glad that I’m finally seeing a countryman in the Majors. Way to go Yan!

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    • Paul says:

      Not to mention that there is virtually no organized baseball in Brazil. I have the pictures to prove that there is SOME, but they are photos of bunting practice! We probably think of Brazil and only soccer, but there is quite a bit of competitive basketball and volleyball. For Gomes to come out of that environment, and to be introduced to baseball in a chance encounter at a grocery store is amazing. At this point with how the U.S. has taken such a large step back in tennis, the comparison would be like a kid coming out of North Dakota and becoming a major tennis player.

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      • joser says:

        Except the US has a history of producing tennis players, and some good ones, even if North Dakota isn’t one of the states that contributed. This would be like some kid from North Dakota in the 1950s going to Europe and playing soccer for a major team, or a kid from Australia making it to the NHL.

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      • Justin says:

        I went to Hockey Reference to see if there has been an Australian-born NHLer. There hasn’t, but one Nigerian and two Venezuelans have made it to the frozen show.

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  9. Expos67 says:

    Do not trade Syndergaard unless Toronto is in a playoff spot. Not a race to a spot, IN a spot.

    Also, the bat needs to be pretty good and for more than 3 months to trade Noah.

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  10. kozilla says:

    Could you give me a conservative and an optimistic estimation of AB’s this year?

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  11. Big Jgke says:

    Just because Bros are icing other Bros and daring people to games of Edward 40-Hands doesn’t mean it’s a frat house, bro.

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  12. Daniel says:

    Im from Brasil, and I play baseball here. Its not a very popular sport, but we are really proud of Yan!

    3 games, 2 hits and 1 HR, i think he had a really good start!

    Hope he can keep up the good job!

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  13. Quintero says:

    Marc, I used to have great respects for you, but after I read your piece of Gomes’ spring training, I realized you were dismissing him just because those 900 at-bats across six levels between ’09 and ’11. Are you the one who loves to preach the cautious of small sample size?

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