With their supplemental round pick, the Mets raised a few eyebrows. They selected Purdue backstop Kevin Plawecki, a guy I felt was more of a second- or third-round guy. I mentioned previously that in some ways, Plawecki's a similar player to Gavin Cecchini. Both men have contact bats and ply their trades at up-the-middle positions that are normally hard to fill. And like Cecchini, I actually do think there's a good likelihood of Plawecki making the majors.
Plawecki has been a three-year starter at Purdue, and he never hit lower than .341 there, and that is what will get him to the big leagues. He has an outstanding contact bat, virtually never striking out (he's struck out 29 times in 623 at-bats over the last three seasons). His swing is smooth and flat as a board, resulting in plenty of line drives he can lace all over the field. And he's not all hands, either. He turns his hips and transfers his weight forward, though his timing can be off. Unfortunately, despite that he'll never provide more than gap power due to the flat swing plane and a lack of physical strength. The only thing that concerns me is that he loads his hands a little too deeply, forcing the barrel of the bat to travel further to reach the ball. This may prevent him from catching up to good fastballs, and while it does add some power to the swing, he doesn't have much anyway. I would prefer a simpler, more direct approach. He adds in a pretty strong approach at the plate, though sometimes I wish he were a little more patient.
It's exceptionally difficult finding catchers who figure to catch long-term in the pros, but Plawecki might be one. He does an awful lot of things well. He has good footwork, he blocks balls in the dirt well, he shows good energy behind the plate, and he's a team leader who should be able to handle a pitching staff well. Unfortunately, his arm is definitely on the weak side, although it hasn't cost him yet. Plawecki has a very quick release thanks to strong footwork. It allows his fringe-average arm to play up a little, and he's actually thrown out over 40% of would-be basestealers this season. So while the arm strength does worry me about his future behind the plate, the rest of his game gives managers and coaches every reason to keep him there. And it's a good thing, too, because while the bat is interesting for a catcher, it won't play anywhere else. If Plawecki fails to make it as a backstop, it's impossible to imagine a big league career for him.
As I mentioned, he has excellent intangibles.
The obvious comparison here is A.J. Pierzynski, another catcher who has so-so defense, limited power and patience, but an excellent ability to hit line drives.
My big issue with the pick is that's it's awfully similar to the Cecchini pick in terms of philosophy. What so impressed me about the 2011 draft is that Chad MacDonald selected a nice mix of players. There was a sense of balance between college and high school guys, polish and tools, raw stuff and pitchability. It's still very early, but I don't have the same sense here. Hopefully that changes a little.