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Patrick Mazeika and catching depth

As things stand now, Patrick Mazeika is surprisingly high on the catching depth chart. Is that a good thing?

New York Mets v St Louis Cardinals
Patrick Mazeika
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

A Massachusetts native, Patrick Mazeika attended Stetson University in DeLand, Florida, alma mater of Jacob deGrom, who he missed playing with by a few years. Drafted in the 8th round of the 2015 MLB June Amateur Draft, Mazeika signed with the Mets for $125,000, below the MLB-assigned $171,900 slot value. Despite being an advanced college hitter with a cumulative .348/.469/.484 as a Hatter, the Mets assigned the part-time backstop, part-time first baseman to the Rookie-level Kingsport Mets, where he hit .354/.451/.540 in 62 games. The Mets continued to promote Mazeika slowly, assigning him to the Low-A Columbia Fireflies in 2016 and the High-A St. Lucie Mets in 2017. Facing competition that, at times, was inferior to that he faced while at Stetson, Mazeika hit .305/.414/.402 in Columbia and .287/.389/.406 in St. Lucie. After getting a brief taste of Double-A baseball at the end of the 2017 season, Mazeika was assigned to the Rumble Ponies in 2018 and 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 a slightly improved .245/.312/.426 in 116 games, slugging a career high 16 home runs.

Coming out of college, Mazeika had very linear left-handed swing. He has since added more loft and lift to it, his home run rate incrementally increasing as a professional, crescendoing in 2019, but he still does not project to be much of a power threat. The changes to his swing have had a negative impact on his hit tool— his best attribute in college and earlier in his professional career—but they have not had much of an impact on his ability to draw walks and get on base.

On the whole, Mazeika has not viewed as a particularly capable defender. While he has a solid arm and has a 31% caught stealing rate, throwing out roughly every one in every three runners that have attempted to run on him over the course of his career, Mazeika does not excel at the other aspects at catching. He is not particularly mobile behind the plate and needs to continue working on his receiving and blocking. His deficiencies as a defender, combined with the fact that he was teammates with the more defensive-oriented Ali Sanchez, actually prompted Binghamton manager Kevin Boles to give him an extended look at first base; Mazeika appeared in 116 games in 2019, playing 55 as a catcher, 53 as a first baseman, and 8 as the designated hitter.

With Ali Sanchez being traded to St. Louis in exchange for cash considerations, Patrick Mazeika is potentially third behind James McCann and Tomas Nido on the depth chart, competing against Bruce Maxwell and Caleb Joseph. Barring eye-opening defensive growth that took place between the 2019 season and the present, this is a concerning development.

Barring an injury, Mazeika seems ticketed to Triple-A Syracuse to begin the 2021 season, where he will split catching duties with other potential teammates, such as David Rodriguez and/or the aforementioned Joseph and Maxwell, and will likely continue getting reps at first.