Last week, FanGraphs had a small blurb about Mets catching prospect Kevin Plawecki in a post about underrated minor leaguers.
“Mets’ 2012 supplemental first rounder Kevin Plawecki has shown that his tremendous hand-eye coordination carried from Purdue to the pro ranks. He only hit eight balls over the fence this year, but eventually some of his doubles—he ranked second among all minor league catchers this year with 38—will turn into home runs.”
I’m loving this… Finally, the 23-year old Kevin Plawecki has got everyone’s attention, but it sure took them a long time to come around on him.
Back in March of last year, before his coming-out season, one of our Minor League analysts, Mitch Petanick was already zeroing in on the former Boilermaker, writing:
His swing is actually very compact, and he gets his hands through the hitting zone very quickly when he keeps them close to his body. He has a very level swing, which will lead to a ton of line drives, but it does not generate a ton of backspin on the ball when contact is made, which is why he won’t be a big home run threat. However, he does have solid gap-to-gap power.
Last month, Mitch also highlighted Plawecki after he was selected as the Mets’ No. 5 ranked prospect by Baseball America.
There is no doubt that Plawecki is a top ten prospect, aside from that, it doesn’t really matter where these guys rank. If you’re in the top 10 it means you should be on your way to Citi Field, if you are top five, it means you should have a starting job someday.
In B.A.’s best tools section, they had Plawecki ranked as their best hitter for average. And while Brandon Nimmo was awarded with best strike-zone discipline, Plawecki definitely exercises the best strike-zone judgment.
Kevin Plawecki struck out a mere 77 times in his professional career while Nimmo struck out 131 times alone in in 2013. While Nimmo had 71 walks (ridiculous), Plawecki had about 30 more hits than Nimmo. Plate discipline is about patience, but it also comes with a higher propensity of striking out, as Nimmo displayed. Plawecki also only struck out 29 times in three seasons at Purdue. That’s serious strike-zone judgment.
Plawecki surprising some people as the No. 5 prospect is more a result of the fact that he received little love for his efforts last year from Baseball America. It was like people would swipe his accomplishments under the rug because he was considered “old” for A-Ball. I don’t think he was named to the B.A. Prospect Hot Sheet at all in 2013, and their excuse during the Q&A session always referred to his age.
The Mets, on the other hand, realize what an outstanding ball player they have on their hand, as Plawecki was named Co-Player of the Year in the Mets organization.
The Mets have had an awful record when it came to drafting and developing a solid major league catcher. There have been too few of them in 52 years, and our best ones; Mike Piazza, Gary Carter and Jerry Grote, came via trades. Now we seem to have an abundance of very skilled backstops speckled throughout the system.
I was pleased to see FanGraphs reference Plawecki’s doubles and how they could eventually translate into more home runs.
Staying with the subject of home runs, it reminded me of our interview with the young catcher after he hit a game tying ninth inning homer and then scored the winning run in the eleventh inning. When we asked him about that home run, here is what he said:
“I was just looking for something to drive. Obviously we needed to get a rally going cause we were running out of time. At the plate, I was fortunate enough to run into one good enough to leave the park for me, but by no means was I trying to hit a home run.”
I thought it was very telling how he wanted us to know that he was only trying to get good wood on the ball and looking for something in the strikezone, and that he was not swinging for the fences. Plawecki is mature beyond his years.
I have no doubt that the Mets will stop bringing him along so slowly and that we’ll see him at Triple-A Las Vegas this season, sooner rather than later.
Travis d’Arnaud will get his chance to shine in 2014, and I choose to ignore his poor offensive showing after he was called up and became the Mets everyday catcher. You have to figure that rust and trying to get his timing back played big roles in his sluggish performance. That won’t be the case anymore come Spring Training.
But if Plawecki continues to pulverize the ball at a higher level like I know he will, the Mets will suddenly have two very solid catching options and be in a position to use one to upgrade at another position. So I’m not worried about a potential quarterback controversy for our starting catcher down the road. You can never have too many options. It’s a nice feeling to know we have Plawecki coming fast and hard.