DALLAS - The Texas Rangers have built their farm system through investments in the International market and high upside draft picks. Texas prefers athletic players with loud tools as an organizational philosophy. Through the years, the Rangers have had a reputation for finding and developing sluggers, especially from Latin America, while struggling to develop starting pitching.
Though the system has been plundered recently through trades to help the big league club, the Rangers still have several enticing prospects we will be featuring through the coming days.
Catchers are odd ducks.
The actual job of the catcher is part stuntman, part scientist. For three plus hours a night, you’re kneeling in body armor while one man throws a compact projectile at you going 80+ MPH. Right in front of you another man is swinging a sophisticated club attempting to hit said projectile.
The catcher’s goal is catching the projectile while not getting hit by the club. Oh, and in between the action you’re trying to scheme and script success for the thrower and failure for the hitter via pitch type and location.
No pressure, go get 'em sport!
When presented this way, it’s not surprising that quality catchers are hard to find. Their scarcity also fuels their importance. Just ask Giants and/or Cardinals fans where they’d be without their all world backstops. Heck, ask Texas now after they traded two gems of their farm system to get Jonathan Lucroy. Catching is important; if you’ve got one, you’re happy and if you don’t, you want one.
That’s the funny thing about catchers however: Unless you get one of certified gems like Buster Posey, you’re not assured of much. The development time for catchers is longer because of the aforementioned complications of the job. Even after a debut, the learning curve at the big league level is large. You may not know you have a premier backstop until they’re 25 or older.
Such is likely the case with Jose Trevino. The 24 year old is starting his fourth year in the organization after being a 6th round pick in 2014 out of Oral Roberts, but only his third behind the plate. Coming out of college, Trevino played all across the diamond including third and shortstop before Texas made him a permanent catcher.
Since that time, Trevino has drawn rave reviews for his defense and handling of pitchers. He’s also highly regarded as one of, if not the, best makeup guys in the system. Nobody you talk to has a bad word to say about Trevino when it comes to character and work ethic. A good trait to have in an organization led by a man in Jeff Banister who values those things.
That doesn’t mean mark Trevino down for the big leagues automatically, however. There’s some concerns about his offensive output -- because, yes, even after being a stuntman scientist, catchers are still expected to hit.
He put up strong numbers at High Desert last season, but those can and should be taken with a grain of salt. High Desert before it folded had a reputation for being severely hitter friendly. Not to say Trevino can’t replicate that at other levels, but it would be wise to wait and see.
Trevino’s offense was never going to be what propelled him through the system. His ability to be durable and intelligent behind the plate is his bread and butter. It’d be unwise to bet against Trevino making the big league roster one day. In a time where catchers are worth their weight in gold, a player with the defensive acumen of Trevino will get his shot.
Predicting what will happen when he gets that opportunity is a wild card.
After all, catchers are odd ducks.
Notes to Know
Vital stats: 5’11” 195, entering his age 24 season
What he’s good at: It bears repeating, but his abilities behind the plate are what will carry him to the top level. He’s embraced being a full time catcher with gusto, and his determination to learn and make it his own has drawn glowing reviews from those inside and outside the organization.
What needs work: His offense, specifically his plate discipline. Despite posting a .302 average last season, Trevino’s on base percentage sat around .340. Part of that is walk related; he only drew 26 last year. While those numbers are enough to play 2B at the major leagues for Texas, it’d be wise for Trevino to improve upon drawing free passes. Adding that skill to an already promising arsenal of offensive abilities would be a big boost.
2017 outlook: While Trevino has the most upside of the catcher group under contract, it’s unlikely he sees the Show this season. With Lucroy and Robinson Chirinos at the top level, Brett Nicholas and a couple journeymen available to fill any injury holes, 2017 will be a year for Trevino to continue his progress upwards.
All signs pointing to him starting in Frisco, but there’s an outside chance the team sends him to Kinston. I’d feel that unwise, but with High Desert being such an erratic place to judge hitters the Wood Ducks might provide some clarity.
That seems unlikely however. The safe projection sees Trevino in Frisco for most of 2017. It’s the best place for him, with the major league club not far away. Hey I wonder if Texas employs a Hall of Fame catcher they could send to help Trevino get ready quicker…
Overall outlook: Jose Trevino, when fully developed, is a major league catcher. I’d be unsurprised if Texas re-signed Lucroy this offseason, and with a big year in the minors made Trevino his backup going into 2018. The question becomes whether Trevino is a starter or backup type long term.
I’m of the belief that if his current development path continues, he’ll be a premier backup catcher for as long as his body allows him to play. The defense and game calling will keep him in major league money for awhile.
Now, if his 2016 offense is the norm going forward, he’s a starting backstop. Being able to hit .300 and slug .400+ with that high level of defense would make Trevino a top 15 catcher in the league. All that remains is to wait and see. I’d put money down right now Trevino plays in the bigs. Just a matter of how often and for how big a paycheck.
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Copyright 2016 WFAA