Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki haven’t impressed anyone, which is why Tomas Nido should get serious playing time with the Mets in 2018.
There was a time when the Mets seemed to have the catching position secured for years to come. The spoils of a Cy Young season by R.A. Dickey netted them not only Noah Syndergaard but also one of the top prospects in baseball at the time, Travis d’Arnaud.
Depth at the position wasn’t an issue either as the organization had another Top 100 prospect behind d’Arnaud, Kevin Plawecki.
While d’Arnaud made his way to the majors relatively quickly and in 2015, flashed some serious potential, slashing .268/.340/.485 with 12 home runs and 41 RBI in 67 games, injuries have hampered his development. Well, that and defense.
Plawecki, meanwhile, hasn’t proven that he’ll ever be more than an adequate backup catcher.
That’s where Tomas Nido comes into play. 2018 is a make or break season for a handful of players on the Mets roster and that list does not exclude d’Arnaud.
He’s only managed to play in 362 games over four full seasons with the Mets. The injuries have just continued to pile up, and his defense continues to regress.
For example, d’Arnaud’s career minus-13 rSB (Stolen Base Runs Saved) and minus-28 DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) are beyond poor. Plawecki, who could be considered an average to above-average defensive catcher, has a rSB of zero and eight DRS for his career.
Meanwhile, Nido, the Mets’ top catching prospect, has been receiving strong reviews about his defense. Bernie Pleskoff of FanRag Sports put together a scouting report on Nido at the end of July.
“Nido is making good progress defensively,” Pleskoff wrote. “He has a strong arm, moves well behind the plate, and gives himself a chance to throw out runners with a “pop” time that is generally around 1.8 seconds. “Pop” time is the time required to transfer the ball from glove to throwing hand, leave the crouch, and get the ball to second base on a runner trying to steal second. Anything over two seconds gives the runner a great advantage.
“This season at Binghamton his mechanics are coming together nicely. He has thrown out 44 percent of runners trying to steal. That is up from a career mark of 23 percent. That’s a huge gain and a very solid trend in the right direction.”
That pop time and caught stealing percentage is no joke. Take a peek below at just how good Nido can be against opposing base stealers.
The video is more than just visually promising. Take a moment and look past the beautiful throw to examine the situation and pitch as well.
Nido scoops a breaking ball out of the dirt in one flawless motion and uses his fluid mechanics to fire a perfect strike down to second base, effectively keeping the baserunner out of scoring position.
If that doesn’t jump out as impressive to you, take a look at this clip of Travis d’Arnaud failing to throw out Ozzie Albies.
d’Arnaud has everything in his favor in this situation. Gsellman throws a fastball that is not swung on by Freddie Freeman. This gives d’Arnaud the upper hand on the runner, but his poor mechanics and lack of arm strength impede him from being even remotely close to nailing Albies.
The difference in these two clips displays d’Arnaud’s biggest flaw and Nido’s biggest strength. The Mets are built around their pitching staff, so it only makes sense that they would want to put a competent defensive catcher behind the plate.
This isn’t to say d’Arnaud should be cast away, but an underrated move from 2017 was Rene Rivera departing via trade, which left a gaping hole at the catchers’ position defensively. Nido can fill that void, and bring along a young bat that possesses legitimate raw power and potential.
Nido’s bat has lacked in the last year as he hit .232 in 2017 at Double-A Binghamton, down from his .320 mark in 2016. Yet, it was a positive sign that he was still able to smack 19 doubles in just 102 games.
Plain and simple, this guy needs to be a part of the Mets plans for 2018.