SoxProspects News

July 24, 2010 at 9:42 AM

The Book: Ryan Lavarnway



C Ryan Lavarnway
Date: July 22, 2010
Team: Portland Sea Dogs

Line: 3 for 5, 2 singles, 1 double, 3 runs batted in, 2 runs scored, 2 strikeouts

Swing: Lavarnway starts out in a slight crouch with his hands lower on his body and his bat flat towards his back shoulder. Upon the pitch’s approach towards home plate, he loads his hands back and brings his bat up to a more vertical position, which puts him in a good hitting position to be quicker to the point of contact with his slightly above-average bat speed. Lavarnway has some early extension in his swing and likes to get his arms open to drive balls that are out and over the plate. He did demonstrate the ability to pull in his hands and shorten his swing to produce a single in a 3-2 count, but there is somewhat of a hole on the inside portion of the plate due to him straightening out his arms early in his swing. Its bears watching to see how quick he can get to balls buried inside on him. He is able to cover a large percentage of the strike zone and generates good contact on balls away from him, rather than push them off the end of the bat. Lavarnway produces some lift at the end of his swing, but he is level through the hitting zone and hits balls out of the ballpark due to his above-average strength right now. If he can develop a touch more lift with his swing, he could produce even more home run power.

Approach: Advanced and polished, Lavarnway’s approach is a strong asset for him and his pitch recognition allows him to pick balls up early out of the pitcher’s hand. Keeping his weight back and looking for pitches to drive, he takes advantage of mistakes, especially in a spot where he can get his arms extended to send them a long way. Lavarnway has a tendency to chase breaking balls that sweep across the strike zone and would be better served to let those balls go by unless he is protecting with two strikes. With good knowledge of the strike zone, he rarely chases bad balls in hitters’ counts and is not afraid to take a pitch not in his zone for a chance to work on something more to his liking. He is very deliberate and relaxed in the way he goes about working an at-bat. Lavarnway did not look out of place against Double-A pitching and should come up to speed quickly with the new looks and patterns he is going to see from pitchers at that level.

Take: Offensively, Lavarnway has the potential to be an above-average hitter for power with the ability to hit for enough contact against advanced pitching to be a very dangerous hitter. When pitchers offer up mistakes, he makes them pay as shown by his double to deep center field on a two-strike fastball that grabbed too much of the plate. He is an excellent fastball hitter, but teams are going to pick up on this and the consistent look of off-speed pitches will challenge him to hit better secondary pitches, while also laying off others when he is ahead in the count. If he can make this adjustment, he should be able to hit consistently in the upper minors and produce similar numbers to those he did in the lower minors.

The questions come when talking about Lavarnway’s defense as a catcher. His skills are average as a whole, showing limited range behind the dish, a slightly below-average arm, and stiff reactions on balls he has to move to. There were times balls popped out of his glove, he stabbed at pitches on the corner, and just looked rough in general behind the plate. Lavarnway did show a quicker release when throwing a runner out and keeping consistent with his technique can help his arm out. With well below-average speed and rigid body actions, it is tough to project him into a potential corner outfield spot or at first base down the line. Most, if not all, projection as to his future defensive position is tied into with how much more improvement he can make catching, where he has made strides since signing with the organization. With his bat’s potential, rounding into an average defensive catcher at the major league level would increase the likelihood he could consistently start for a big league team, a likelihood that is a little bit cloudy right now. He is also going to have to shorten his swing to maintain higher contact rates to keep from becoming an “all-or-nothing” hitter against better competition. Lavarnway has tracked pretty quickly through the low minors and shown the advanced hitting skills that reports indicated when he was drafted, and in the process pushed himself up the catching depth chart within the Red Sox system. Dedicated to his craft, followers can expect him to put the time into improving as a receiver, and there is some room for him to grow at the position. Double-A will be a big proving ground for Lavarnway and should show whether he can take a step forward behind the plate to answer the questions surrounding his defense.

 
Copyright © 2003-2014 SoxProspects, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Email: info@soxprospects.com