A Catching Conundrum

The disconcerting news of Travis d’Arnaud’s fractured wrist — yet another blow to the young catcher’s fine career — couldn’t come at a worse time for the New York Mets.

Nestled atop the National League East, the “Lovable Losers of Baseball” seemed poised to come out of Sunday’s matchup with the Miami Marlins unscathed and with a victory. The latter occurred, with the Mets handily defeating the Marlins 7-6 on Harvey Day. However, New York received the news of fractures suffered by Jerry Blevins and Travis d’Arnaud.

The Mets can and likely will survive without Blevins, a dominant lefty reliever whose production can possibly be duplicated by a guy from Triple-A. But the d’Arnaud injury stings in the fact that the 26-year-old was a key contributor to the recent influx of wins with his .289 BA coming into today’s action.

According to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, the catching duties will likely fall to Kevin Plawecki, a 24-year-old catching prospect currently batting .229 with 6 runs batted in at the Triple A level.

The Purdue University product has consistently hit for power entering his 2015 campaign, and despite struggling in Las Vegas for the past half-season and change, is still regarded as a big-time catching prospect.

Following an impressive stint in Double A Binghamton in 2014 (.326 BA, 6 HR, 43 RBI), Plawecki started the 2014 Futures Game for the United States, showcasing his contact-over-power approach en route to a run batted in the nation’s defeat of the world.

What impresses everybody — from coaches to scouts to members of the media — is his tendency to work the count and make consistent contact. His agility and good hands enable him to intimidate pitchers (not to mention his 6’2″, 225 pound frame), and that makes him a threat in a Mets lineup filled with contact-oriented players.

Will Plawecki fit in? Will he improve on a mediocre batting average in Triple A?

There’s obviously no guarantee, but it’s nice to see the Mets starting to realize that their time is now and that eventually these guys are going to have to showcase their stuff.

Also, Johnny Monnell, the guy that many thought would take d’Arnaud’s place, is a career journeyman with no prior MLB experience. You may as well take the top prospect, right?

As far as Plawecki’s development is concerned, maybe it’s not the greatest thing to rush him. But the bottom line is that the Mets want to win. If he isn’t contributing, it’s without a doubt that they’ll send him back down to the minors in favor of Monell.

“Can he handle it here?” Amazin’s manager Terry Collins said following Sunday’s victory over the Marlins. “We’ll likely find out.”

Hopefully, by the time d’Arnaud returns, the Mets will find a gem in Plawecki and have two MLB-caliber catchers.

The words of Giants head coach Tom Coughlin can also be applied to baseball: “too much depth is never a bad thing.”


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