Could Ryan Lavarnway be the Red Sox starting catcher in 2014?
One of my favorite things about Spring Training is the ability to see some of the young Sox prospects compete with the big boys. While the Red Sox are giving the keys to the starting catching position to Jarrod Saltalamacchia this year, he still has a lot to prove to gain the confidence of management and the fans alike, which makes checking out the progress of our minor league catchers that much more interesting, and one player who I've been keeping an eye on is Ryan Lavarnway.
Ryan Lavarnway is new to the catching game, converting over to the position in 2007, and while his defensive skills are still a work in progress, he has one thing you love seeing a catcher have, which you can't really teach, and that's intelligence. Lavarnway graduated from some school in Conneticut named Yale, and led the Ivy league in HR's, RBI, Walks, Slugging Percentage, and On Base Percentage in 2008. As you can tell by those stats he's got excellent plate discipline and makes very solid contact with the ball.
So far this Spring he's made the most out of his limited opportunies going 4 for 6 with a HR and 3 RBI. Don't expect to see Lavarnway in Boston anytime in 2011, however, if he can continue to progress there's no reason to think he wouldn't have a shot with the club in 2012 or beyond. Baseball America has him projected as being the starting catcher for the Red Sox in 2014, time will tell, in the meantime if Lavarnway keeps making the most out of his opportunities, he could either be the heir apparent to Varitek or great trade bait, depending on how the Saltalamacchia experiment fares.