Kevin Plawecki, the Mets first round draft pick in 2012, has worked his way up to Double-A in his age 23 season. In the brief season so far, the catcher is hitting .286 with a .359 OBP and .343 slugging percentage. Over three professional seasons, Plawecki had progressed from low Single-A in Brooklyn to Double-A Binghamton, hitting .287 with a .375 OBP.
Robert Brender recently had a chance to talk with Plawecki about his experience in major league camp in 2014 and his development behind the plate and at the dish…
Brender: You spent the majority of Spring Training in big league camp this year. How was the experience and what did you take from it?
Plawecki: It was a great opportunity and a great honor to be invited to big league Spring Training. It was my first one. Just being in the same locker room as David Wight and Granderson and everybody in that locker room who have been in the big leagues before, it was good being around them and getting to know them. From a baseball standpoint, learning from the other catchers, the other four guys in camp who have all been in the big leagues at one point or another. It was just great to get to know them and pick their brains when I could and just take it all in. It was a lot of fun.
Brender: As a young catcher, is it more important for you right now to work on your defensive game or offense and how tough is it to not lose track of one or the other?
Plawecki: Well, I don’t think you can focus on one. It’s important to be a complete player and nice to have both. I try to stay consistent with them every day, with my hitting routine, and take each at-bat one at a time and try to simplify the game as much as I can. Defensive-wise, I’ve been working on some things. Just trying to get to know the pitching staff and work with the pitchers really well and win ballgames. Ultimately, we’re here to develop but it’s always nice to win in the process.
Brender: When you were at Spring Training did you notice a tremendous difference catching pitchers who have big league experience and did that change what you need to do behind the plate?
Plawecki: A little bit. They’re in the big leagues for a reason. The biggest thing I noticed was the consistency, really. They throw all their pitches for strikes when they need to and also nibble the corners a little bit more than some guys. But that’s what the Minor Leagues are for, to get to that level. A big thing for me in Spring Training, working with the older veteran guys, was not being afraid to talk to them if I saw something or to see what pitches they threw in certain situations. Getting to know them, so when I got into games I was comfortable with knowing what pitches they throw and what their strengths were. I think it was overall a good experience.
Brender: Do members of the Mets organization talk to you regularly about their hitting philosophy and what they want you to work on as a hitter?
Plawecki: It’s pretty simple really, just getting good pitches to hit, getting yourself in good count to hit in and make sure you put a good swing on the ball. Not chasing borderline pitches and not chasing balls in the dirt. Taking walks along with the hits. It’s all about just being on base. If you’re on base it allows for more runs to be scored. Everybody has bought into that system and its really worked out for us. So far, here in Binghamton, we’ve had some really good games and really good at-bats and we’ve had a lot of base runners. It makes the game a lot more fun, gets the batter more RBI situations and ultimately win ball games. Just finding a way, any way to get on base is the majority of the thing
Brender: How difficult is it to not get in a rush in your development, especially after getting a taste of big league life in Spring Training?
Plawecki: Obviously, it will be a dream come true whenever that day is to be in the big leagues but in the meantime I’m having fun being with the guys on this team here in Binghamton. Just making the most of what my opportunity is here. I still have a lot to learn, still have room to grow and just trying to make the most of the opportunity I have. But with the whole big league experience, getting to go on the Las Vegas trip with those guys was an awesome experience. Yeah, it’s exciting. Whenever that time is to make the big leagues, the time will be right and it’s something I look forward to.
Brender: You haven’t hit for a ton of power to this point. Is power something you are trying to develop?
Plawecki: Not really, to be honest. I’ve gotten here hitting the way I have been. I’ve gotten on base and hit my fair share of doubles, got my walks, trying to limit my strikeouts as much as I can. If I think about trying to change my swing and hit for more power then those numbers might change. Nobody has ever had a problem with the way that I hit. I just have to stick with what’s been working for me up to this point.