What Can We Make Of Juan Centeno?

An article by posted on December 26, 2013

matsuzaka centeno

This paragraph in a Fangraphs.com article about the bias of Top 100 lists, started me thinking:

“It’s interesting that Yadier Molina never made a top 100 list when you consider he was a semi-high pick with two brothers in the big leagues and never hit below .275 in a full-season minor league. The thing that worked against Molina is that he didn’t start hitting for power until much later. It is said that power is the last tool to develop and Molina should be the poster boy for that mantra. He could always hit, as you can see from his minor league averages, but didn’t top double-digit home runs in the big leagues until his eighth season in St. Louis.”

The same article mentions Kevin Plawecki in this manner:

“Mets’ 2012 supplemental first rounder Kevin Plawecki has shown that his tremendous hand-eye coordination carried from Purdue to the pro ranks. He only hit eight balls over the fence this year, but eventually some of his doubles—he ranked second among all minor league catchers this year with 38—will turn into home runs .”

But, what about the only big league catcher to throw out Billy Hamilton stealing?  Yes, it was by an eyelash, but he was out!

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This from the MLB article linked with the video:

While Centeno will go down as the first catcher to nail Hamilton, credit Matsuzaka as well. Working from the stretch instead of his usual deliberate windup, he made one pickoff throw before throwing a fastball to the plate.  “I talked to the pitchers earlier about being quick to the plate, changing looks with him, doing pickoffs to first, all that stuff. [Hamilton] likes to run early,” Centeno said. “Today, I just went to the mound and said, ‘I think he’s going to go first pitch, let’s go quick pitch and fastball down and away.’ That’s how it happened, and we got him.”

Here is what Terry Collins had to say about Centeno on the verge of his first major league start, who had batted .305 (65-213) with 10 doubles in 67 games for Triple-A Las Vegas, “He’s as good a defender as we have,” Collins said. “He has gotten better offensively. He is going to get some hits. He absolutely controls the running game.”

Back in the late 70′s, we had John Stearns as our starter and Ron Hodges as his lefty complement.  Hodges was a good defensive catcher, but hit 19 homeruns in 1,426 at bats over 12 years on the Mets.  So, while Anthony Recker has shown some power potential, he is 30 years old and has never shown to be more than a low batting average and some power on any level in the minors or majors.  Recker is more organizational depth, while Centeno at 24 should be considered a solid part of the future.

The Mets originally drafted Juan Centeno in the 32nd round of the 2007 draft.  His defense-first skillset is a nice complement to d’Arnaud’s offensive potential.  Although d’Arnaud is considered above average defensively with a good bat, he is a right handed hitter.  Centeno is a lefty contact hitter with excellent defense but lesser offense.  The question is “what’s your preference?”

Centeno has only accumulated 1138 plate appearances over 7 minor league seasons and needs the 350+ at bats in Las Vegas over a full season to improve his offensive game, however, I would like to see him switch with Recker by late June and getting two starts a week in the majors.  That should put him on a pace of about 175-200 plate appearances for a full year.  He will learn the pro game at the MLB level and would be an absolutely perfect compliment to d’Arnaud in every way.

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Don't sleep when the Mets lose, the world is perfect when they win. Often feels like I care more about the Mets' success than their owners. Doug Flynn was my first favorite Met and Mike Piazza was the best favorite Met.

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