Plawecki projects as capable fill-in for Mets
Prospect will see action in place of injured starting catcher d'Arnaud
Injury is never a good way for a prospect to get his first call to the big leagues, but it's far from uncommon. And given Travis d'Arnaud's unfortunate track record, it shouldn't have been too big of a surprise that Kevin Plawecki would be asked to step in behind the plate at some point this season.
That time is now, with d'Arnaud shelved due to a fractured right hand. And as Mets manager Terry Collins put it, "If he's coming, he's going to play."
So the No. 63 overall prospect (No. 2 on the Mets' Top 30 and No. 6 on the Top 10 Catchers lists) is coming and he's going to play. But what's fair to expect of the Purdue University product who joined the Mets as the No. 35 overall selection in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft?
Offensively, expect a lot of contact. Plawecki does not strike out much, collecting just 128 K's in 1,228 plate appearances in the Minors at the time of his callup. His slow start to 2015 (8-for-35) notwithstanding, he's always hit for average, with a .293 career mark as he climbed the organizational ladder. He'll draw a fair share of walks -- he has a .368 on-base percentage -- but don't expect that much power. Even in his college days, Plawecki has used a contact before power approach. He did slug .460 in '15 and has some extra-base ability. He'll even run into a few here and there, but especially as he tries to adjust to big-league pitching, count on him to really rely on those contact skills.
Behind the plate, Plawecki is a solid defender. He has good hands and blocks balls well with decent agility. His arm is average, but it's pretty accurate and he's thrown out 28 percent of would-be basestealers thus far. He's not a shut-down receiver with a cannon arm, but he should be able to step in and work well with the Mets' pitching staff.
It's tough enough for any prospect to come up and make his big league debut. Trying to do it while handling the responsibilities of a big league catcher is indeed a daunting task. That should be taken into account when attempting to project Plawecki's contribution. Expecting Plawecki to be a capable stand-in until d'Arnaud returns, however, is entirely realistic.