Christian Vazquez is a touted-prospect for one reason, and one reason alone; his skills behind the dish. According to every defensive metric, whether it be pitch framing, defensive runs saved, or caught stealing percentage, the 24-year-old catcher is rendered elite. Oh, and did I mention he’s just a rookie?
Even though he’s already drawn comparison to guys like Yadier Molina and Jonathan Lucroy from a defensive perspective, he still hasn’t been of great value since his call-up due to his ineffectiveness with the stick. In 147 plate appearances this season, Vazquez has only managed to churn a weak .234/.292/.289 slash line.
Now, I detest the notion that what Vazquez’s has done offensively this year will be more or less what we see the rest of his career. Looking at his minor-league numbers over the past few years, we can evidently see this isn’t the offensive player at his best.
*(Note: Minor-league stats are only shown when Vazquez compiled 250+ plate appearances in a specific level of the minors)
2011 (444 PA) with Single-A Greenville: .283 AVG, .358 OBP, .505 SLG, .316 BABIP and 133 wRC+
2012 (342 PA) with Single-A Salem: .266 AVG, .360 OBP, .396 SLG, .326 BABIP, 114 wRC+
2013 (399 PA) with Double-A Portland: .289 AVG, .376 OBP, .395 SLG, .316 BABIP, 119 wRC+
2014 (270 PA) with Triple-A Pawtucket: .276 AVG, .336 OBP, .385 SLG, .340 BABIP, and 98 wRC+
Those numbers aren’t eye-popping by any stretch of the imagination, but they sure are above-average. They also showcase his tendency to walk at a high-rate, which is indicated by his stupendous on-base percentage totals.
Another reason I’m optimistic about his offensive potential is his low .270 BABIP (batting average on balls in play). That mark is .23 percentage points below league-average for catchers this season, and should deviate towards league-average, eventually, but there’s no guarantee.
Vazquez has the potential to be a solid commodity from an offensive standpoint as well as a defensive standpoint. With the latter, he’s already well above-average, but the former will take some honing. Whether that is next year or a few years from now, I’m upbeat about his offensive aptitude.