Ex-catcher Jansen turns heads as reliever 

July, 26, 2010

Today, I am recommending that players in NL-only leagues pick up the Netherlands' starting catcher in last year's World Baseball Classic.

Except you should put him on your roster as a pitcher.

Kenley Jansen is a 22-year-old right-hander who hit .229 over five seasons in the minors as a backstop, but his arm strength was so great that the Los Angeles Dodgers didn't give up on him, instead asking him to give pitching a try.

Thus, for the last two months of the 2009 season, Jansen was working on the mound. He followed that up with an impressive stint at the Arizona Fall League to earn a spot on the 40-man roster. When I saw him there, I was surprised at how good he was, given his pitching experience. Sent to high Class-A to start this season, he dominated there for 11 games before being moved to Double-A, where he didn't miss a beat. He pitched a combined 45 innings in the minors this season, striking out an otherworldly 78 batters and allowing no homers. He also walked 23. It was a performance good enough to rocket Jansen to the majors.

Jansen recorded a save on Sunday in his second big league game, pitching on back-to-back days. That's not bad, considering it's his first full professional season as a pitcher. Talk about getting thrust into the fire.