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Promotion Watch: J.P. Arencibia

With the Blue Jays in the middle of their annual fade from contention (16-24 since May 20th), there’s a very real chance that the team will look to sell high on All Star John Buck and his career (.351 wOBA, 1.4 WAR) year. He’s scheduled to become a free agent after the season and is dangerously close to falling out of Type-B status, meaning he could walk with Toronto receiving nothing in return. They already have a competent backup in Jose Molina, but more importantly, they have a big time prospect mashing in Triple-A.

J.P. Arencibia, the 21st overall pick in the 2007 draft, is currently hitting .317/.366/.641 with 26 doubles and 21 homers in 306 plate appearances at Las Vegas, his second season at the level. He’s performing better away from hitter friendly Cashman Field (.365/.403/.730), and MinorLeagueSplits.com has his park neutralized batting line at .301/.350/.605, obviously still stellar. It’s quick the rebound for Arencibia, who hit just .236/.284/.444 at the same level and in the same park last season.

The former Tennessee Volunteer dropped out of Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects list this season after they ranked him as the 43rd best prospect in the game rior to the 2009 season. Our own Marc Hulet didn’t lose the faith, ranking Arencibia as the game’s 86th best prospect this March. The crew at BA said the 24-year-old’s “swing is long and his bat speed is ordinary,” but he still “could provide 20-25 homers on an annual basis and solid defense.”

Even if it comes with the caveat of a .230 or .240 AVG, a backstop that smacks 20 homers has plenty of fantasy value. Miguel Olivo has always seemed to find a fantasy home despite a similar skill set, right down to the hacktastic approach. In fairness, Arencibia boasts a career high walk rate this year and has steadily improved ever so slightly in that department through the years, but I don’t think we’ll ever see even a 50 walk season out of him.

If you’re hurting for a catcher, especially in an AL-only setup or a deep mixed league, Arencibia’s a great guy to stash on the bench for the inevitable call up. At the very least, I would expect the Jays to bring him up in September as an audition for next year’s starting job.