Need a C? Add Mitch Garver
We’ve all been there, you waited until the 18th or 20th round and it’s time to draft a catcher, turns out there’s maybe 3 total good ones and the best one is injury prone. It’s usually wise to wait, and not spend a high draft pick on a C. Your backstop fix might be here.
28-year-old Mitch Garver, owned in 34% of Yahoo and 15.8% of ESPN leagues, has 5 HR in 39 2019 PA and an equally impressive 6.6% SwStr. On the Statcast exit velocity (FB/LD) leaderboard, Statcast Garver is 6th at an average of 100.2 MPH (Note: on 4/23 this was accurate, trackman data since changed, moving Garver to 99.3 MPH). You’re probably thinking, ‘yeah that’s great and all, but sample size’. I hear you.
Dig deeper into the sample and you’ll find 3 of Garver’s 5 home runs were off of, Jacob deGrom twice and Edwin Diaz, that’s no small feat. Going 414 and 406 feet off the reigning Cy Young at Citi Field in early April is ‘The Mountain’ type strength.
You’re still probably thinking, “sample size”. In Clegane’s, I mean Garver’s 88 game 2017 AAA stint with the Rochester Red Wings, he put up elite numbers: 17 HR, .291 AVG, .381 OBP, and a .541 SLG. The most important part of his line is how in 2016 he logged 84 AAA PA and hit .329. Unless there’s something physically or emotionally wrong with a player, they will always improve at a level their second time around. It’s also worth noting Frontier Field (Twins AAA) is 335 down the LF line and muscling home runs in Rochester NY weather is more challenging.
Garver is actually in his pseudo third go-around in the big leagues if you want to count the 52 PA he had in 2017, which with respect to him, produced rookie results.
Now before you jump all over the bandwagon there are a couple regression warning signs, first, a .405 average (.435 BABIP) isn’t sustainable based on his history. Garver’s 41.7% HR/FB rate is also unsustainable given his history, however his 2017 AAA 20% HR/FB rate combined with his excellent 2019 exit velocity returns make a possible 20-25% mark and a 30+ HR pace feasible. Hitting homers in a cavernous pro park with an average April/May temp of 57* and 70* respectively is also not easy. All 5 of his 2019 HR were on the road. Unfortunately, Willians Astudillo and Jason Castro pose a threat to his playing time, (Astudillo’s hitting prowess is worthy of a singular article) however it appears there’s a window of opportunity for Garver and Castro to get more reps as Astudillo is playing more at 1B, 3B, and OF. Astudillo is 27, Garver is 28, and Castro is 31. It’s possible the Twins will invest more time in developing their younger talent. Garver was pull happy at AAA in ’17 (46.4%) and early ’19 returns have him at 53.6%. When you’re as strong as he appears to be, sometimes you’re out ahead of the pitch. Peppering baseballs that hard is not the worst thing, it worked out for him in the aforementioned 372 2017 AAA PA.
Hitting the homers off deGrom and Diaz combined with his early explosive powerful output ultimately make me believe Garver is worth a look at your C position.
Thank you to HBO and Baseball Swingpedia for the images. Another thanks to Baseball Savant and Fangraphs.com for statistics.
Featured image courtesy of Baseball Swingpedia.