Kevin Plawecki’s major league career hasn’t gone very well thus far, and as a result, it’s not surprising that he enters the 2017 season as the Mets’ third option at catcher. If things go according to plan at the major league level, Travis d’Arnaud will get the lion’s share of playing time, with Rene Rivera backing him up, but Plawecki is probably going to get some playing time with the Mets at some point along the way.
Drafted by the organization in the first round in 2012, Plawecki hit pretty well at every stop of his minor league career, which started in Brooklyn that year. By the end of the 2014 season, he was playing in Triple-A, and going into the 2015 season, he ranked among baseball’s top one-hundred prospects. Baseball America had him ranked 63rd, and Baseball Prospectus had him 80th.
Plawecki made his major league debut that year, but in 258 plate appearances, he hit just .219/.280/.296 with a 59 wRC+. Last year, he spent the majority of his season in Triple-A, but when he was with the Mets, he was virtually the same hitter as he had been the year before, this time with a .197/.298/.265 line and a 58 wRC+. Last year, he hit a whole bunch of ground balls and infield fly balls, neither of which are ideal for getting hits. It’s a little bit surprising, but the major projection systems see Plawecki improving at the plate this year, albeit at a level that’s still well below league average.
Like the Mets’ other catchers, Plawecki has rated well when it comes to pitch framing in his relatively brief stints in the big leagues. But that alone won’t get him established as a major league player, even as d’Arnaud’s backup. Whenever the opportunity arises at the major league level, Plawecki is going to have to do what he’s done at every minor league level along the way: hit.