James played for the US national team in the 2011 Pan Am Games and the 2011 Baseball World Cup. He attended the University of Arkansas and, as a junior, was a semifinalist for the Johnny Bench award, which is presented to the best catcher in NCAA Division 1.
In 2016, James established a modern major-league record for consecutive errorless games as a catcher to start a career with 139. He did not commit an error until the 140th game of his career on May 30 at LA Angels. James set single-season career highs in ’16 with 12 home runs and 48 RBI and ranked second in the American League with 25 catcher caught stealings. His 45.0 caught-stealing percentage was fourth in the AL and the best by a Tigers catcher since Ivan Rodriguez had a 51.0 caught stealing percentage in 2006. In his rookie season in 2015, James became only the sixth player in Major League history to catch at least 100 games in a season without committing an error. He established the Tigers franchise record for most innings caught with 943.1, surpassing the previous club mark of 880.0 (by Frank House in 1954). James’ first career home run came on April 29, 2015 at Minnesota’s Target Field and was an inside-the-park homer against the Twins.
James was originally drafted out of High School by the White Sox in the 31st round of the 2008 MLB draft.