March 7, 2012 at 6:55 PM
Leading up to Opening Day, I plan to run a series of previews highlighting the depth at each position in the Red Sox farm system. Let’s start with the catchers, where Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Kelly Shoppach are poised to fill the two spots on the 25-man roster. Here’s a look at the other top catchers in the system.
Ryan Lavarnway (Age: 24)
How Acquired: Drafted in the 6th round in 2008 ($325,00 signing bonus)
2011 Stats: .290 AVG/.376 OBP/.563 SLG with 32 home runs for Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket
2012 Status: On the 40-man roster, 3 options remaining. Likely headed back to Pawtucket.
Scouting Report: Lavarnway has a high baseball IQ with a solid catcher's frame. He has average-to-slightly-above-average contact potential and possesses above-average plate discipline and power potential. Hitting from a slightly closed, crouched stance, he attacks mistake pitches, especially ones out and over the plate. The 24-year-old can drive the ball to all fields and uses his lower body well in his swing. However, he can overextend his arms, which leads to some struggles on the inside third.
Defensively, Lavarnway has rough overall catching skills with limited range, slow reactions, average blocking skills and average catch-and-release mechanics. However, he’s one of the hardest and smartest workers in the system, so improvements are quite possible. Some scouts project that he will always be well below-average defensively, while others opine that he could develop into an adequate major league backstop.
Projection: Starting DH and backup C
Ceiling: All-Star C due to offense, but still a tick below average defensively
Floor: Replacement level bench player, pinch hitter with negative defensive value