Dodgers' Jansen Catching On As A Pitcher
LOS ANGELES — Two years after Kenley Jansen
was presented with a plan to drastically alter his baseball career, he is finally taking off in the Dodgers' organization.
All it took for the former catcher was to agree to a position switch and now he will report to big league camp this spring as a pitcher.
Just how fast have things moved? Jansen was catching for the Netherlands at the World Baseball Classic last spring and after making the switch to pitcher this past summer, he was added to the club's 40-man roster for the first time over the winter.
"His arm was always so impressive," said De Jon Watson
, Dodgers director of player development. "He's a big kid, 6-foot-2, who was throwing people out from his knees with ease. That was his forte to catch and throw, with occasional power, but he wasn't as consistent with his hitting and hadn't turned the corner offensively."
Two years ago, Watson suggested to Jansen that he think about a position change. When Jansen balked at the idea, the team relented.
Jansen's commitment to catching was rewarded with a spot in the WBC, but following the tournament his offense continued to sputter. When he was batting .185 in part-time action at Triple-A Albuquerque this summer, Watson and Jansen spoke again.
"We had a 45-minute conversation to walk through the options and how it can change his career path," Watson said. "If things worked out, I told him he could be competing for the 40-man roster. He asked if I was serious."
Jansen committed himself to the project. He was sent to high Class A Inland Empire to learn the ropes from 66ers pitching coach and major league veteran Charlie Hough.
"When he worked with Charlie his whole demeanor changed," Watson said. "He was excited about learning the craft and he immersed himself in it. When some of the major leaguers came down on rehab assignments he picked their brains. He kept getting better and better."
Jansen posted a 4.63 ERA in 12 relief outings behind a fastball anywhere from 94-98 mph, paired with a raw but effective curve. In the Arizona Fall League, the first three of his five outings were scoreless.
He figures to start the 2010 season at Double-A Chattanooga.
• Andrew Lambo
was waiting to see if he would get a non-roster invitation to big league camp. The 21-year-old outfielder rebounded from a disappointing first season at Double-A by hitting .330/.365/.484 over 91 at-bats in the Arizona Fall League.
• Outfielder Scott Van Slyke
was one of the youngest imports in the Mexican Pacific League. Van Slyke, 23, batted .250/.333/.281 over 32 at-bats. He hit .294/.373/.534 at high Class A Inland Empire last year.