Minnesota’s Present and Future Catching Duo
Image courtesy of © Brad Rempel-USA TODAY SportsTwo Catcher Rotation
Last season, the Twins used a two-catcher rotation with tremendous success. Mitch Garver played in 93 games on his way to winning the AL’s Silver Slugger Award for catchers. Jason Castro was a veteran secondary option and he played in 79 contests. Together, these two helped Twins catchers to lead baseball in home runs (48), SLG (.503) and wOBA (.351). One of the more impressive stats might have been that Twins catchers scored 33 more runs than any other catching combination in the big-leagues.
Minnesota brought in Alex Avila this off-season to fill the catcher spot vacated by Jason Castro. Avila has been an All-Star and won a Silver Slugger, but that was almost a decade ago. This season he has put together professional at-bats and he has done that by getting on base over 40% of the time. The problem is Jeffers might be better than advertised.
One of the biggest criticisms throughout Garver’s professional career has been his defensive play behind the plate. He has improved greatly, and his catcher framing is one of his biggest areas of improvement. According to Baseball Savant, there are three zones where he ranks above average over the last two seasons, at the bottom of the zone and to the left and right of the plate.
Jeffers might be even better at coaxing strikes from umpires, especially pitches on the outer edges. Jose Berrios had been in a season long slump and Jeffers helped to get a few extra borderline pitches to go his way. This might have gone a long way in helping Berrios look like his former self. Defensively, Jeffers has come a long way especially considering he didn’t have a catching coach in college, and he had to watch YouTube videos to improve behind the plate.
Just watching him pull those balls back into the zone is a thing of beauty if you’re a Twins fan.
Catch You Later
It’s not hard to imagine a scenario where Garver and Jeffers become Minnesota’s catching duo behind the plate. This season might be hard to make that happen, because no one knows how long Garver will be out with his current injury, a right intercostal strain. The Twins will get multiple weeks to see what Jeffers can do both offensively and defensively. Following this year’s draft, I had Jeffers ranked as the number six overall prospect in the Twins organization.
Over the last two seasons, the Twins have used Garver with a veteran left-handed catcher. This made it easier to platoon the two hitters even if Garver was used more than a traditional platoon. Jeffers struggles more against lefties as his OPS was over 110 points lower versus southpaws. On the other hand, Garver destroyed lefties last season with a 1.170 OPS in over 100 at-bats.
Garver can’t reach free agency until 2024 where he will be almost into his mid-30s. Jeffers is over six-years younger than Garver and he has the potential to be a solid contributor on both sides of the ball. No matter how the team uses their duo moving forward, it’s clear the team’s catching duties are in good hands.
How do you feel about Minnesota’s future behind the plate? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
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