Jays From the Couch continues its Toronto Blue Jays On the Fringe of 40 series with a look at C, Ryan Lavarnway
It seems the focus has moved from pitching to catching in this series. Catching, or calling the game, can be both masterful and disaster filled. Blue Jays fans have witnessed both this season alone. This creates the need to look and see what catchers are in the Blue Jays organization to call on. Could there be the possibility of a Ryan Lavarnway sighting in the future?
Currently with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Lavarnway has some decent numbers coming in. He’s batting .293 with three home runs and 17 RBI in 30 games so far.
Lavarnway is an Ivy Leaguer, Yale was the school he chose to play baseball for, and by all accounts was successful there. In 2007, while at Yale, he won the NCAA batting title by hitting .467, and he led the NCAA in slugging percentage with a .873. Lavarnway was also able to set the Ivy League record for hits with a 25 game hitting streak, as well as the Ivy League all time career home run record with 33 home runs.
It was in 2008 while in his sophomore year at Yale, that Lavarnway broke his wrist diving into home plate. Luckily though, as this type of injury had the expectation of total recovery and a quick recovery time, the injury didn’t stop him from being drafted in the 6th round by the Boston Red Sox that same year in the amateur draft.
Lavarnway did well with the Boston organization. He was an All-Star in 2010 in both the mid-season and post season and was named the Red Sox Co-Minor League Offensive Player of the Year. In 2011, he was named to the Minor League All-Star Team, and that year was named best power prospect in the International League by Baseball America. By the All-Star break, he had led all players in the Boston organization, including the major leaguers, in home runs
Though he started catching in little league, Lavarnway moved to the outfield while in high school. It wasn’t until he attended Yale that he asked his coaches to give him a chance at catching again. He spoke of this second chance at catching to Evan Brunell for Bleacher Report:
“I played catcher in Little League, and moved to outfield in high school because an older player had already earned the catching spot. The coaches at Yale moved me back to catcher my sophomore year after I asked them to give me a chance back there. I’ve always loved catching. I enjoy being a part of every play. I’d have to say that my favorite part of catching is working together with my pitcher to call a great game.”
He seems to enjoy the challenge of the catching position, and it definitely seems like it was the right decision to gravitate back to that position. When he was asked by soxprospects.com what, if any trouble he had picking up the catching position again, there was no ambivalence in his answer.
“I’ve always really enjoyed catching. I’m a thinker – I like to be involved in every play. I like the aspect of calling pitches and trying to pick small things up like hitches in opposing players’ swings, or helping a pitcher get back on track if he’s lost his arm slot. Catching helped me feel the rhythm of the game more. It also helped me learn the strike zone better as far as my hitting goes.”
It seems there is another catcher coming up through the ranks that could also help the Blue Jays offensively. Working on catching a knuckleball seems to be a pretty good way to come in from the fringe these days, and maybe that’s what Ryan Lavarnway will do.
*Featured Image Credit: Dave Nelson UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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Catherine Stem is a Blue Jays fan and writer who has combined both of these great things by writing for Jays From the Couch. Through all the ups and downs of baseball, all aspects of the game are explored. Keeping a close eye on the Blue Jays Triple A team, the Buffalo Bisons has also become part of her make-up.