Kevin Plawecki May Be Figuring It Out
One lesson we may be learning during the 2017 season with Rafael Montero is you should give talented prospects every possible chance to succeed because when they figure it out, you are going to have useful, cheap, and talented players on your major league roster. That is a key component in helping construct teams that go to and win World Series.
Like Montero, another player Mets fans have grown somewhat accustomed to hearing about is catcher Kevin Plawecki. Like Montero, Plawecki seems like he is figuring things out this season.
Since being rushed to the majors in 2015, Plawecki has done little more than struggle in a New York Mets uniform. Over the past three seasons, Plawecki has hit .206/.282/.278 in 131 major league games. This year was a low for him with him just hitting .125/.214/.167 in 10 games for the Mets.
After Plawecki was sent down to Triple-A after his poor stint in the majors, he has been a much better player. In 37 games, Plawecki has hit .350/.440/.552 with 11 doubles, six homers, and 24 RBI. If you had never donned a Mets uniform, it is likely Mets fans would be clamoring for the 26 year old 2012 first round pick to get called up to the majors.
There are many reasons why Plawecki is thriving now. First and foremost, he is getting that extended look at Triple-A he always needed. Remember, when he was first called-up to the majors, he had only played nine career games in Triple-A. Last year, he spent most of the year as a backup, and then he played just about half a season in Triple-A. It is possible he is settled in Triple-A now, getting the coaching he needs, and it is starting to click for him.
It should also be remembered the catching position is one of the most challenging positions to master. Young catchers have to put in more time at their position than most other prospects. Typically, we will see at least one aspect of a young catcher’s game lag behind. For some, it’s the bat. For others, it’s the defense. In Plawecki’s case, it has been the bat.
Now, it shouldn’t be ruled out this is some statistical fluke or just the product of a hot streak. Plawecki’s numbers since getting demoted are fueled by a .383 BABIP. There should also be concerns over his poor 5.8% walk rate. However, Plawecki does have a good 14.2% strikeout rate, and he is hitting the ball much better. His groundball rate has plummeted leading to him hitting more line drives. He is also become a batter who uses the whole field instead of focusing on just pulling the ball.
In totality, it means there is a lot to like what is going on with Plawecki. When you combine that with his good skills behind the plate, especially his pitch framing, you have a player who once again looks like he is a major league caliber catcher. Whether that is as a starter or a back-up is yet to be determined.
This is important because he is out of options after this year, and with the Mets going nowhere it doesn’t serve them much to keep him in Vegas. If they need to put him on the Major League roster or lose him for nothing, they need to get him on the roster sooner rather than later to see if he really is an improved player. Considering how far he has come this season and Rene Rivera being a free agent, he could very well be Travis d’Arnaud‘s backup entering the 2018 season.