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Athletic Realmuto keeping runners on alert

Quick pop time, high velocity are result of more intense preparation
MLB.com @JoeFrisaro

MIAMI -- Throwing down to second base between half-innings is no longer a mundane exercise for Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto. It's a real opportunity to simulate tossing out a potential basestealer.

Covering all bases in his quest to be a complete player, Realmuto treats even warmups as a chance to touch up on technique. Already one of the rising stars at his position, the 26-year-old Oklahoma native now is determined to put baserunners on notice with his throwing abilities.

MIAMI -- Throwing down to second base between half-innings is no longer a mundane exercise for Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto. It's a real opportunity to simulate tossing out a potential basestealer.

Covering all bases in his quest to be a complete player, Realmuto treats even warmups as a chance to touch up on technique. Already one of the rising stars at his position, the 26-year-old Oklahoma native now is determined to put baserunners on notice with his throwing abilities.

It's an area of Realmuto's game that he's identified as a priority.

"He's such a good athlete," catching coach Brian Schneider said. "He's got such a strong arm. He's starting to put together the footwork and the release, because that's just as important as his arm."

Realmuto saw immediate results in Miami's opening series last week at Washington.

In Game 2 at Nationals Park, the former high school quarterback caught Bryce Harper trying to swipe second in the fifth inning. An inning later, he detected Jayson Werth drifting too far from second, so the catcher threw down and picked off Werth.

Video: MIA@WSH: Realmuto throws out Werth at second

"That's something I definitely want to improve on this year, because last year I didn't hardly try to pick anybody off," Realmuto said.

Realmuto has the skill set to make runners uneasy. His pop time, according to Statcast™, on the pickoff of Werth was 1.93 seconds, and his throw was tracked at 85.8 mph. When he threw out Harper the inning before, his pop time was 1.89 seconds and the toss was 87 mph.

In 2016, the average Major League pop time on all steal attempts to second base was 2.02 seconds. The average on those caught stealing was 1.99 seconds. Realmuto posted the fastest pop time of any catcher during the early part of the season with 1.8 seconds last Thursday at Washington, but speedy shortstop Trea Turner ended up being safe on a close play.

Not only is Realmuto cat-like quick getting into throwing position, he's putting plenty of zip on the ball. As of Saturday, according to Statcast™, the average of his three throws to second was 85.8 mph, which is the third highest among all MLB catchers.

"J.T. is dangerous in so many different ways," Schneider said. "Not just offensively, but also defensively."

In his third big league season, Realmuto is becoming the complete package, and he's emerging into an All-Star-caliber player.

Realmuto is off to a hot start at the plate, batting .500 (11-for-22) with two home runs and six RBIs, and he was named the National League Player of the Week to open the season. Thus far, he's showing increased power on his balls in play. His double at Washington on Opening Day had an exit velocity, per Statcast™, of 111.4 mph, which is his highest reading ever. And Realmuto hit a home run during the series with an exit velocity of 109.8 mph, a personal best for a homer.

Video: MIA@WSH: Realmuto ties it up with a two-run shot

For Realmuto, success starts with his attention to detail, which is reflected on how he warms up between innings. That's why he is treating those throws to second with more intensity.

In the past, Realmuto said he tended to take that throw too easy.

"Almost preserving my arm, I'd guess," Realmuto said. "But the last two weeks of Spring Training, I've been kind of been letting it loose, trying to find that right arm slot. What would happen, I'd take it easy between innings. And when the game came, I wouldn't have the right arm slot, because I hadn't been throwing as hard as I could."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Miami Marlins, J.T. Realmuto