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Getting to know Patrick Mazeika

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The Mets call up one of their few catching depth options.

New York Mets Photo Day Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

The Mets’ have been pressed for catching depth for what feels like the better part of a decade, often turning to less-than-inspiring options from their farm when a thin major league depth chart inevitably succumbs to injury. Going on 27, Patrick Mazeika is the next such catcher, as the 2015 draftee now sits fourth on the Mets catching depth chart.

An 8th round draft pick out of Stetson, Mazeika was an unheralded college player despite a consistent track record of offensive production. He rocketed through the lower minors, partially on the power of his more-advanced-than-his-peers hit tool and partially because he was a small fish in a big pond, an older player from a school with a strong baseball program; In 2015, he appeared in 62 games for the Kingsport Mets and hit .354/.451/.540 with 5 home runs and nearly a 1:1 walk:strikeout ratio. In 2016, he appeared in 70 games for the Columbia Fireflies and hit .305/.414/.402 with 3 home runs and a virtual 1:1 walk:strikeout ratio. In 2017, he appeared in 100 games for the St. Lucie Mets and hit .287/.389/.406 with 7 home runs and practically a 1:1 walk:strikeout ratio.

Mazeika spent the 2018 season with the Binghamton Rumble Ponies and finally ran into a wall for the first time in his career, hitting a paltry .231/.328/.363 in 87 games. He returned to Binghamton in 2019, his swing revamped and splitting time at first base and catcher almost 50-50, he hit an improved .245/.312/.426 in 116 games, slugging a career high 16 home runs

It’s worth diving into the actual meat and potatoes of the offensive performance. Mazeika dominated the low minors during his first three seasons, then had an exciting Double-A cameo at the end of 2017. His first real go-round in Double-A wasn’t great, however, as he posted an below-average slash line for the first time in his career despite walking more often than he struck out. He bounced back in 2019, getting his wRC+ back to 116 and launching a career-high 16 home runs, but the track record of production is reminiscent of many other college hitters who initially perform well against younger competition before stagnating in the upper minors. It is worth noting that he has progressively added loft to his once-level swing. He seemed uncomfortable at first, but has clearly adapted to it, nearly doubling his career highs in home runs between 2018 and 2019, from 9 to 16. This also led to a spike in his strike out rate, which also almost doubled, but Mazeika always had a good eye and continued drawing walks.

Defensively, Mazeika remains a poor receiver, a label that increasingly dissuades major league teams as the importance of framing is more fully understood. Mazeika saw more time at first base in 2019 than in any previous season as well, but didn’t look like a plus defender their either. Ultimately, Mazeika probably doesn’t have the bat to carry his profile if he’s not a catcher and, barring a sudden and drastic improvement, he isn’t really a catcher. That’s probably a big part of why he went unselected in the 2019 Rule 5 draft despite the Mets leaving him unprotected.