The 23-year-old began the 2014 campaign with Double-A Binghamton, where he tore up the Eastern League to the tune of a .326 batting average, .378 on-base percentage and .487 slugging percentage in 58 games. That effort earned him a All-Star selection and a move to Triple-A Las Vegas at the mid-way point. Although he got off to a bit of a slow start his first week with the 51s (2-for-23 in his first seven games), his confidence at the plate kicked back in with a three-hit game on July 6 in Albuquerque and stayed with him the rest of the season. He batted .310 in July and .305 in August and continued to get on base with regularity, which is such a highly-regarded aspect of his offensive game. Thanks to a considerable amount of hard work, his defense has also steadily improved, making him more of a well-rounded backstop.
The Mets are one of the few organizations who have two young, major league-ready catchers. Now the question is, how do they find enough at-bats for both of them once Plawecki is promoted? Would Kevin mind occasionally playing first base or left field? Has the organization told him to prepare for that move? Also, how tough is it to keep performing at a high level offensively when he concentrates so heavily on his defense? He answers those questions and more in this week's Mets Minors Q&A...
Brender: What have you been doing this offseason?
Plawecki: I’m planning a wedding right now. We’re getting married next November, so we’re using this offseason to do a lot of wedding planning stuff. So, that’s taken up a little bit of time. I like to think I’ve contributed a little bit, but a lot of it is just agreeing with what she says. Trying to help her out as much as I can while I’m home, because I’m gone so much during the season. It’s my opportunity to try to put in some effort and make sure things are going smoothly. I’m also working out. I golf quite a bit. I’m golfing two or three times a week. I play at courses around my house and wherever is not too expensive.
Brender: What is your routine like as you start to prepare for next baseball season?
Plawecki: Last year, I gave myself a month after the season just to kind of wind down, relax and just really not do anything.
I don't work out. I don’t pick up a ball. I don’t pick up a bat. I don’t pick up a glove. I picked up a golf club. Come early October, I’ll start working out, just lifting and stuff like that. I’ll go three times a week, is what I’ve been doing. Then, starting next week, I’ll go four times a week. I’ll pick up a bat maybe in mid-December and just start swinging it around a little bit, just so I can start moving again. I’ll start throwing in January. I start (throwing) close, then move it back gradually, as the month goes on and be ready to go by February.
That’s the way I did it last year and it worked out pretty well. You don’t want to work things out too quickly. You want to give your body a good-enough break.
Brender: Were you pleased with your 2014 season?
Plawecki: Yeah, very pleased. I had a very fun time in Binghamton with the guys on that team. It was great that they were able to finish the job and win the whole thing. That was nice to see. I would have obviously wished to have been there afterward to celebrate a little bit, but I was happy to finish in Las Vegas. It’s too bad that we came up a little bit short up there. But, I thought overall, I had a pretty good season as well as the teams I was on. I wouldn’t change much about this year.
Brender: What was the most difficult adjustment when you made the jump from Double-A to Triple-A and how long did it take you to figure it out?
Plawecki: I think when I started off in Triple-A it was just a matter of confidence, really. That first week, I was having good at-bats but the results weren’t there to show it. It was kind of frustrating, in the sense that I would be lining out and I went on a streak there where I just couldn’t buy a hit. It was the mental side of it. It took me a little bit to take a step back and realize that I was trying to do way too much with one swing. I was try to get five hits in one at-bat, which obviously can’t happen.
In the end, I had a month and a half or two months left and I told myself ‘You’re going to have the highs, and you’re going to have the lows, but it’s just about being consistent.’ I just had to remind myself of that. Once I did, I strung a few weeks together and the numbers starting going back up and the confidence started creeping back up. I finished pretty strong there.
Brender: What do you think you need to work on most of all?
Plawecki: Just consistency. I think anybody can really say that. Having that one-game-at-a-time approach, that one-at-bat-at-a-time approach. Just not getting too high or too low, staying even-keel. Getting good pitches to hit, having an open mind to listen to your coaches and working with the pitching staff. Continue working on both sides of the game and making sure I’m consistent with everything.
Brender: How tough is it for you as young catcher to concentrate on your offensive game while spending so much time working with the pitchers and worrying about your catching?
Plawecki: Well, being a catcher who is supposed to hit, it can be kind of difficult in a way because you’re supposed to put really good numbers up. As a catcher, hitting is on the back-burner, really. The most important thing is to win games and your one swing of the bat might win it every once in a while, but, most importantly, your pitching staff is going to win the games. It’s important to treat every starter like it’s their day. Every fifth day is that pitchers day. That’s how you should treat it and that’s the way I look at it.
Obviously, hitting is a big part of my game and I would love to be successful at it. Sometimes people don’t realize that there’s a lot more that goes into working with the pitchers and the hitting gets thrown on the back-burner. Working with the pitchers is more of our job than hitting. The hitting side of things is more of a bonus. It’s hard to weigh the two but it’s important that you’re producing on both sides of the ball. It’s important to balance that.
Brender: That must make you really appreciate guys like Yadier Molina and Pudge Rodriguez, who were successful offensively and defensively?
Plawecki: It’s impressive. It’s a lot of work. It’s a lot of studying and time that goes into it with the pitching staff and the hitting side of things. That’s our job as a catcher. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Brender: Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson recently said if you and Travis d’Arnaud are in the big leagues at the same time, they would consider occasionally putting one of you at first base or the outfield. Would you be comfortable with that?
Plawecki: Of course, I would be open for anything. So many decisions are out of our control. If there’s any way to help the team, I’ll play wherever they want me. I’m open to anything. Obviously, I haven’t heard anything. No one has told me to work on first base or outfield this offseason, so I’m just worrying about working out and, maybe come Spring Training, we’ll have more answers about that.
Brender: If you had to name one pitcher in the organization that you caught this season who impressed you the most who would it be?
Plawecki: I caught so many guys this year, it’s hard to single one out. I think I caught Steven Matz twice in Binghamton. I know he had a lot of success there. But, as far as guys I caught most of the year, I thought Matt Bowman did a great job in Double-A and then when he came up to Triple-A. The circumstance that he had, going back and forth is not an easy thing to do. He’s a very aggressive pitcher. He’s got a good attitude on the mound. He’s a bulldog up there and I think everybody feeds off that when he’s on the mound. That’s one guy I thought had a great season and did a lot with the opportunities that he had. Also, the obvious guys such as Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard were great guys to catch and both had good years. Guys that will hopefully be in the big leagues sooner rather than later.
Brender: How eager are you to get to the big leagues? Can you taste it already?
Plawecki: Yeah, I’ve definitely thought about it a lot. I’m not going to lie about that. Like I said earlier, there are a lot of factors that go into the decisions that are made. The only thing I can control is my attitude and my effort. That’s the way I’ve treated it up to this point and that’s the way I’m going to continue to treat it, now and when I’m hopefully in the big leagues. Just take it one day at a time, work as hard as I can and have fun. But it is very exciting. I’ll be very excited and emotional when the day comes.