The Dream: Here's a guy who the Halos brass clearly holds in high esteem. We've seen more of him this spring than any other catcher drafted in the past three years. While he's only gone to the plate twice, he's spent five or six innings behind the dish. He caught mostly minor league arms Ryan Brasier, Daniel Tillman, and Eric Hurley, but teamed with "Chopper" for a frame too. As a near complete unknown twenty-two year old, Bandy offers the possibility of performing well in all facets of the game this year, forcing his way into "catcher of the future talk" before the season is out.
Live In The Now! The Halos' scooped JETT BANDY out of Arizona College in the 31st round of the 2011 draft. Despite the draft position, Bandy had drawn some notice as one of the better collegiate backstops in the country with a strong sophomore season in 2010, when he put up a .336/.433/.516 line. A junior year collapse down to .232/.298/.305 caused his stock to plummet, so at least one informed observer expected him to spend another year in the college ranks to repair his drafts status. Apparently, the Halos made him an offer he couldn't refuse.
Bandy spent the bulk of 2011 with the rookie AZL Angels, where he was the squad's best hitter, rapping four HR's and putting up a .307/.394/.477 line. He caught 37% of basestealers and established himself as a good defensive catcher, which presumably put him on the brass' radar. He went to Salt Lake for a single game in July, returned to Arizona, then made stops in Arkansas and then Orem to support those teams' respective playoff pushes. He homered in one of two at bats for the Travs on September 5th.
It's Bandy's glove that will make or break him. He didn't call much attention to himself behind the dish this spring, but I mean that as a compliment, since any gangly 6'4" athlete who's spry enough to not look ridiculous setting a low target is doing something right. He set a nice rhythm with Hurley especially, framing a couple of called third strike pitches beautifully. He probably saved a run singlehandedly while catching Brasier, snagging a wild fastball way over his head with an impossibly long arm. He did play catch with his centerfielder while trying to catch the one runner that challenged him, but anyone can look bad with just one opportunity.
The bat is a wild card. With his size, you'd think that power would be his calling card, but that doesn't appear to be the case. Here's some batting practice footage from his college days:
At first, I thought he was just practicing hammering to the opposite field, but after watching him this spring, I suspect that he looks to go the other way. His hands are quick and loose, appearing to work well, but he has a lot of body to coordinate in the rest of his swing. He starts with an open stance, striding in and leaning out over the plate to meet each pitch. His spring training hit was a lined shot into right field.
2012 Forecast: Given his playing time this spring at the expense of fellow rookie catchers Abel Baker and Francis Larson, I think the Halos plan to jump Bandy to High A before too long.