Though he has been in and out of the major leagues since his 2015 debut, Kevin Plawecki has yet to prove himself capable of hitting at the major league level. But the departure of Rene Rivera has given him another opportunity to show he can adjust and provide value to the Mets.
Plawecki is now 26 years old and would be considered well past the development phase of his career at any other position. But catchers do peak late and it's possible that Plawecki will earn a spot in the majors long-term.
Contrary to scouting reports early in his professional career, Plawecki has excellent defensive tools as a catcher. He has a moderately good arm and blocks well, but he excels most in pitch-framing -- the catching skill with the biggest impact on run-prevention. He consistently ranks highly among major league catchers in runs saved via pitch-framing despite having relatively few innings.
The challenge for Plawecki, which has so far looked like an insurmountable one, is his bat. Always light on power, he has still managed to hit for good average in the minors, showing a solid swing that can spray the ball to all fields. But he has yet to show any real ability to hit major league pitching.
Plawecki's .210/.287/.290 line across 450 career plate appearances is simply awful no matter how many runs he saves. He struggles to lift the ball and the contact skills that translate to line drives in the minors have resulted in weak ground balls with the Mets. Moreover, his resistance to strikeouts (he struck out in just 11 percent of his minor league plate appearances) has not carried through, resulting in a rate twice as high with the Mets.
The good news is that so far in 2017, albeit in a bet small sample, he's starting to show signs of improvement at the plate. He's cut way down on the strikeouts and has even been able to get the ball out of the infield on occasion, showing an overall improvement in approach. His hard hit rate has also spiked, reflecting a higher quality of contact.
A dearth of catching around the majors virtually guarantees Plawecki will continue to get chances somewhere and the Mets are believers in his ability to put it all together. Travis d'Arnaud has outplayed Plawecki thus far, but has yet to really lock down his grip on the position. And his vulnerability to injury means a backup on this team will have a lot of opportunities. But with defensive whiz Tomas Nido turning heads in Binghamton (and at the 2017 Futures Game), Plawecki has to take advantage of every at-bat and prove he belongs.
Maggie Wiggin (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Archive Posts) has been a Mets fan since birth and a MetsBlog contributor since 2013. She loves throwing hard and hitting hard and hates the DH. When baseball is out of season, she fills her days with data analysis and evaluation and patiently waits for Spring