Sometimes the best musicians are the ones that spend a decade or more unable to quite reach the top of their profession. Being down below the top allows them to focus on their trade and get better with each passing day, month and year. By the time they make it to the big time, they are so professional and polished that people wonder why they weren’t discovered years ago. Though music and baseball have their differences, this analogy fits perfectly with where Boston Red Sox catching prospect Ryan Lavarnway is in his career.
To be clear, Lavarnway isn’t wallowing in a decade worth of time in the minor leagues. He is still very young and has plenty of birthdays left with a two in front of the number. That said; he still is itching to get to the big leagues with the Red Sox. For a catcher in the Red Sox organization however, things do not look promising this season. Jarrod Saltalamacchia is the every day starter while David Ross will back him up extremely well. Basically there is no place for Lavarnway this season.
That is a good thing. I’m sure he wants to be a major leaguer extremely bad but to his credit, Lavarnway keeps things in perspective. He knows that playing well is the only way to get noticed. He plans to take that attitude back to the minor leagues and develop his skills even further. If he gets a chance to play like he did for a while last season, he will do his best to show his stuff. Last year he didn’t have a great offensive season and some wonder if that is why the Red Sox didn’t give him the chance at a spot on the roster. I don’t think so.
I think the Red Sox understand that they potentially have an extremely good catcher of the future in Lavarnway. Last season’s bad offensive production was because he was focusing more on his defense and being an everyday type catcher. If you need proof just look at his minor league numbers. His career average is .286 and he has two seasons of great power production. One of the seasons he hit 22 homers and drove in 102 runs and the other had 32 homers and 93 RBI.
As one coach put it, he has never not hit. This guy is going to hit in the big leagues. He needs time and he needs to hone his skill as a catcher. He will do that this season in the minor leagues. When he gets another chance at the majors, whether this season or next, Lavarnway will be extremely hard to ignore.