Prospect #16, RHP Kenley Jansen 2009

Kenley Jansen

Cincinnati has apparently offered a five year, $33 million signing bonus to left-hander Aroldis Chapman and his 101 mph fastball. The Cuban defector has been marketing his arm around the county, looking for the highest bidder. The Dodgers financial woes are well-known, so they were not in the auction but they have a young flame-thrower of their own, Kenley Jansen, whose fastball hit 97-98.

Under the guidance of überscout Logan White, the Dodgers have developed a reputation for converting position players into catchers. Russell Martin, Lucas May, Tony Delmonico and the recently departed Carlos Santana to name a few. Now they have reversed the trend and have converted catcher Kenley Jansen into a pitcher.

The young man has been in the organization since his signing as a free agent in November of 2004 out of Curacao, Netherlands Antilles. He didn't draw too much attention until he made the Midwest League mid-season all-star team in 2008 but even then he finished the season with a .240 average and 72 strikeouts over 247 at-bats.

In 2008 he worked behind the plate for The Netherlands in the World Games and a dazzling video of him throwing out a base-runner drew hits on the internet for some time. But he finished the regular 2008 season with a .227 average at low-A Great Lakes.

Despite a four-year record of .234/.319/.346 in 224 games he was given every chance to excel. He had been sent to the Hawaiian League twice and as late as June, 2009 he was still catching, throwing a thunderbolt to second base like Zeus but hitting like Aphrodite.

As an amateur in Curacao, some international scouts preferred him as a pitcher because of his arm strength and questionable hitting ability.

So they took away his catcher's mask and helmet and affixed a toe-plate to his shoe and showed him out to the mound. He was only 21, but they had become convinced he would never hit in the major leagues.

Unbothered by the turnaround, he demonstrated a sizzling fastball for Inland Empire over the final weeks of the season, cruising at 94-96 and occasionally lighting up the speed gun with a 97-98 mph rocket.

With the 66ers he he stuck out 19 batters and walked 6 in 11.1 innings over 12 games. Pitching for the Peoria Javelinas in the Arizona Fall League, Jansen only appeared in five games but displayed his remarkable arm to strike out nine of the 23 batters he faced over 4.2 innings.

In back-to-back appearances Jansen's fastball ranged from 94-96 and he threw his 79-82 mph breaking ball four times for strikes, including two swinging. Two days later he showed the same fastball velocity and mixed in a mid-80s changeup, though he's still refining both of his secondary pitches.

"When they told me that he was coming here and he was a converted guy, I was like, ‘Oh, no,' " Saguaros pitching coach Fred Dabney said. "I know he hasn't been pitching very long, but I tell you what, I was very surprised and pleased. He commands the ball a lot better than what I expected. Obviously the tools and the ability is there and he's got to polish some things up—little things—but he's fun to work with. He's a bright spot. I'm glad they put him on the mound."

The performance elevated him from a desperate catching suspect to the Dodgers 40-man roster and the Dodgers have invited him to their mini-camp in late January.

"He's got pretty good feel for his slider," said Dabney, the Brewers' high Class A Brevard County pitching coach. "His changeup's coming around but in time, when he gets to throw more innings, he'll develop those pitches. He's got a good feel for what he's doing—that's the key."

He should be working under the watchful eye of Charlie Hough at Inland Empire again but if he develops a mound presence and can keep his thunderbolt in the strike zone, he could move up quickly.

KENLEY CORRALES JANSEN
6-2 220 bb tr
Born- September 30, 1987 in Curacao

year    team    ave   obp   ops  gm   ab   r  h   2b 3b hr  bi sb
2005	GCLg   .304  .339  .781  34  102  16  31   9  1  1  18  1
	Ogden  .182  .250  .563   3   11   2   2   1  0  0   1  0  
2006	GCLg   .248  .362  .670  35  117  14  29   2  1  1  10  1   
2007	Ogden  .240  .345  .657  53  183  26  44   5  1  2  22  0
	GLks   .102  .169  .384  20   59   5   6   1  0  1   6  0
2008    GLks   .227  .298  .695  79  277  32  56  15  0  9  27  3
2009    IEmp   .262  .268  .571  26   89   7  18   6  0  1  11  0
	Alb    .185  .214  .399   8   27   1   5   0  0  0   2  0
------------------------------------------------------------------
 totals	      .229  .311  .647  258  835  102  191  39  3  15  97  5

 Pitching
year	team   w-l  era  gm   gs  sv   in   h  bb  so   ave
2009    InE    0-0 4.63  12   0   0  11.2  14   6  11  .278

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