PITTSBURGH – After multiple injuries to superstar players (Giancarlo Stanton, Jose Fernandez, Christian Yelich), firing their manager in-season (Mike Redmond) and overall poor performance by a host of veteran and free agent acquisitions (Mat Latos, Dan Haren), the emergence of prospect-turned-everyday-player, J.T. Realmuto has been a bright spot in the midst of another lost season for the Miami Marlins.
Over the course of 114 games, Realmuto has hit 10 home runs to go along with 45 RBI, 46 runs and seven stolen bases, while slashing .253/.284/.404. In September, he is hitting .368/.366/.658 with three home runs, including a 10-game hit streak dating back to August 31.
The 10 home runs over the course of the year are tied for 12th-most amongst everyday catchers (i.e. – those who only play catcher and not another position), while the seven stolen bases are the most of any catcher this year.
Plus, he did this earlier this month:
Last night, J.T. Realmuto became the first catcher since 1980 to have a two-homer game w/an inside-the-park HR. pic.twitter.com/YXC0q67EJt
— Diamond Kinetics (@DiamondKinetics) September 9, 2015
While Realmuto’s FV (future value) projects at 50 (see charts below for further explanation), it will be interesting to see if perhaps he can turn into a 60-65 player by the time he’s 27 (he is currently 24). Since a slow but steady adjustment to major league pitching, Realmuto has hit seven of his 10 home runs over his last 49 games. If you project his second half numbers out over a 162-game season, Realmuto would be slashing .263/.299/.442 with 20 home runs, 70 RBI, 70 runs and 16 stolen bases¹
In his Marlins prospect evaluation prior to the 2015 season, Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs had this to say about Realmuto:
“Realmuto is a classic example of both multi-sport athlete and catching conversions taking longer to develop, but he took a huge step forward in 2014 from okay prospect to Miami’s catcher of the future. He was a successful dual-threat quarterback in high school that also played shortstop and converted to catcher after he turned pro as a 3rd rounder in 2011. Realmuto was once a plus runner but now has more average speed, but his receiving has really improved and he projects to be a solid average receiver with a plus arm. He has a very quick release and quick feet to produce pop times as low as 1.78. Realmuto is a bat over power guy that’s more focused on contact and is likely a little below average offensively, but that’s still an easy everyday guy behind the plate if everything holds up.”
With that, it seems safe to say Realmuto will be a 10 SB guy for the next three to four years, barring injury, with a ceiling of 15 SB’s.
In terms of hitting, reaching 20 HR’s will seemingly be a bigger challenge.
Realmuto currently ranks 23rd out of 30 catchers in his O-Swing% at 34.3%, but ranks 5th in O-Swing% contact at 77.1%. As the scouting report said above, he is a bat over power guy that’s more focused on contact. With that information in our grasp, we can begin to understand the two charts below:
In this pitch chart featuring exit velocity breakdown, we see just how little power Realmuto generates when he makes contact on pitches that are outside the strike zone²
However, as noted by his 77.1% O-Swing%, he has excellent plate coverage which leads to a spray chart like this:
All of Realmuto’s power comes when he pulls the ball (the one red dot in center happened to be his inside-the-park HR), but that’s not necessarily a bad thing as evidence by the HR spray chart of Nolan Arenado.
Ultimately, Realmuto needs to be a little more selective with his pitches and take more walks, as evident by his sub-.300 OBP. However, there is nothing wrong with being a contact hitter who can pull the right pitch for a home run when the opportunity strikes.
Realmuto should be the only 15/10 catcher over the next few years. We’ll see, with a little work, if he can make those numbers 20/15 in 2016.
1. With the exception of the iron-legged Salvador Perez, catchers do not play close to 162 games over the course of a season, unless they platoon as a DH, 1B or OF, and even then it’s only one or two (Evan Gattis, Buster Posey) who fall into that bucket.
2. Generating power on pitches outside the strike is very tough, needless to say