With the 35th pick in the 2012 draft, the New York Mets selected Kevin Plawecki out of Purdue University. In a draft where the organization was questioned for drafting low ceiling talents, the now 22-year old catcher was assumed to be an overdraft — Fueled by his ranking as the 68th best prospect pre-draft per Baseball America.
Video after the jump
A .250/.345/.384 in Brooklyn didn’t help to silence doubters. Entering 2013, he ranked as only the 14th best Mets prospect on Marc Hulet’s pre-season rankings — Low for a supplemental first pick in any organization. Combine this with an assignment to full season Savannah and prospect followers who initially panned the pick were left emboldened for doing so.
After a lowly single in his debut, Plawecki belted three hits including a home run in game two and hasn’t stopped hitting since.
Through 12 games, the contact-oriented catcher has 10 extra base hits fueling a .375/.426/.667 triple slash line. While scouting him in Rome, I overheard a scout say something to the effect of, “How can I not like this guy? He has six doubles since I started following the team and he barrels everything.”
Plawecki’s swing is rhythmic and generates easy bat speed. He doesn’t throw his hips hard to maximize power, but the catcher doesn’t have to. Clean, repeatable swing mechanics will result in moderate power production when combined with Plawecki’s size and low strikeout totals.
In seeing Plawecki on a hot streak, his double-tap load and the dropping of his hands pre-swing worked well as a timing mechanism. On the flip side, one must question how often Plawecki’s load causes his timeing to come unglued.
Another question is how much of Plawecki’s hot start is fueled by facing pitchers he’s more advanced than. During a three hit performance, Plawecki feasted off of Braves organizational arms.
In one at bat, the right-handed hitter kept his hands back on a changeup and wrapped a double down the left field line. On the surface, it was a great piece of hitting. From a scouting standpoint, the pitch was 75-mph and flat.
Plawecki’s lack of speed and athleticism pulls down his overall profile. If the body goes south at all, projecting him at catcher becomes difficult.
On defense, Plawecki made few physical or mental mistakes, but did little to stand out. His wide frame provides an excellent target for pitchers. However, his mobility will be questioned.
Plawecki’s defensive strength was framing and receiving pitches between the shoulders. When stretched to get around an inside or outside pitch, he struggled.
One area in need of real improvement are Plawecki’s catch and throw skills. His arm strength is solid average to above, but Plawecki doesn’t fire out well, Plus, he has a wrist hitch in the back of his throwing motion which tags a tenth of a second onto every throw.
In a perfect world, Plawecki would be in Port St. Lucie (High-A) facing a stiffer test. At present, a pair of young-ish catchers in Cam Maron and Albert Cordero are splitting time in the hope one becomes a serviceable backup at the Major League level.
This throws a wrench into projecting the first rounders bat. To help with this, I often look back at other players who pass through the South Atlantic League.
In 2009, the Red Sox had Tim Federowicz (now a Dodger) who was advanced for the level of competition.
Federowicz was a stronger defender than Plawecki and posted similar offensive production at the level. Now 25, he’s struggling to establish himself as a backup in Los Angeles.
Plawecki is in the midst of fantastic start, but question marks persist. The Mets prospect is a future big leaguer, but his bat will have to carry the profile. And against lesser competition, Plawecki isn’t being tested on a nightly basis.
These concerns, along with a fringe average defensive ceiling, leave Plawecki a future backup with a note to re-evaluate in Double-A.
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