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The Blue Jays could have their eyes on Sam Houston State catcher Walker Janek in next month’s draft

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Photo credit:Joe Rondone/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK
Chris Georges
29 days ago
Sam Houston State catcher Walker Janek is a well balanced catcher who is projected to be taken at some point in the back half of the first round in next month’s draft. The backstop grades well across the board, with a particular strength of his being his throwing arm. He figures to be available for the Blue Jays when they’re on the clock with the 20th overall selection.
Janek is a bit of a late bloomer, having been lightly recruited in high school, before making a name for himself in the last couple of seasons in college. A three year starter as a Bearkat, the 6’0″ 190 pounder’s hitting improved each season, with an OPS of .888 in 2022, .926 in 2023, and a whopping 1.185 this past season. He finished third among Conference USA leaders in homeruns as well as on-base percentage, while also adding 13 steals.
In addition to having the potential of being a plus offensive catcher, Janek was also named his conference’s defensive player of the year for the 2024 season. His athletic body helps him stay agile behind the plate, with a cannon of an arm to throw out runners trying to steal.
Despite making a lot of contact and striking out at a low rate, something he’ll have to work on as a pro will be driving the ball to all fields. He has a tendency to try to launch balls to his pull side, sometimes making weaker contact on pitches away or out of the zone.
The first round hype for Janek started last summer in the Cape Cod League, where he bopped five homers and swiped seven bags in 30 games. His .838 OPS on the season was complimented by his strong showing behind the plate against the best college prospects in the nation. After exploding at Sam Houston State in 2024, he is now a near lock to be taken before the end of round one.
Despite sporting only two prospects on MLB.com’s preseason top 100 prospects list, the Blue Jays farm system has a lot of depth in the upper minors. One position where the team does not generate much excitement in terms of prospects is behind the plate. Despite currently having a formidable duo of Danny Jansen and Alejandro Kirk, things may be set to change with Jansen becoming a free agent at season’s end. The Jays don’t have a single catcher ranked in their top 30 prospects, making the position a priority in the draft.
Whether the Blue Jays find themselves in a rebuild by this year’s trade deadline or not, spending draft capital on a top flight catching prospect should be high on the priority list, especially considering that it seems likely that this is Jansen’s last year in Toronto. Janek offers the offensive upside and all around game to firmly be in the discussion for the Jays’ first pick.  It remains to be seen whether Janek, Stanford catcher Malcolm Moore, or California backstop Caleb Lomavita will be the first signal-caller off the board come July 14th.

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