Blue Jays promote catching prospect J.P. Arencibia

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The Blue Jays are finally ready to reward top catching prospect J.P. Arencibia for the astronomic numbers that he has posted this season at Triple-A Las Vegas.  With John Buck needing a stint on the disabled list due to a laceration on his hand, the 24-year-old Arencibia had his contract purchased on Wednesday afternoon.

Arencibia was drafted in the first round of the 2007 first-year player drafted and has flashed solid power numbers at nearly every minor league stop.  This year he’s managed a Pacific Coast League-leading 31 home runs in 379 at-bats, along with 79 RBI and a total of 71 runs scored. 

The Jays are hoping he will carry some of that “pop” with him to Toronto, where he is likely to start behind the plate for Friday’s series-opener against the Rays.  If Arencibia proves capable of handling major league pitching in his first tour through the bigs, the Blue Jays could let John Buck walk this winter. 

Buck was signed to a one-year contract this offseason and has produced at a better-than-expected rate, but Arencibia is cheaper and already more talented.  We’ll get an abrupt chance over the next two weeks to see if he is also more productive.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.