For those of you that are closely monitoring with top prospect list, I may draw some criticism for this ranking. Specifically, I expect some analysts would quibble with my including Lavisky in my Top 15 list despite leaving Ronny Rodriguez off of it.
In 2011, Lavisky hit .203/.266/.354 between Low-A Mahoning Valley and Single-A Lake County, while Rodriguez hit .246/.274/.449, all with Lake County. Plus Rodriguez is a year younger and is generally more highly regarded around the game. So why would I prefer Lavisky?
As I stated earlier, I have nothing against Rodriguez, I just simply want to see more from him before I consider him to be one of the top prospects in the organization. If takes a step forward in 2012 he will easily gain a spot on my list. But for now I will take Lavisky over him for two main reasons: pedigree and position scarcity.
Rodriguez’ breakout 2011 campaign has obscured the fact that he joined the Indians’ farm system as an undrafted free agent. Lavisky, on the other hand, was the Tribe’s eighth-round pick in the 2010 draft and the Indians gave him a $1 million signing bonus. He also caught for Stetson Allie, the Pirates’ second-round pick that year, in high school.
Lavisky has had much higher expectations placed on him than Rodriguez has, and as a 21-year-old prospect he doesn’t have too much more time to adjust to professional pitching. The front office will look to move him up as fast as possible, so he won’t have as much time as a regular prospect to work on his approach and defense. But the team sees him as a mature enough player that can handle the rush, which speaks well for his abilities.
Also, as a catcher, Lavisky has big-time ability at the thinnest position in baseball. He has already shown some nice power that can only improve. His plate discipline is what he really needs to work on, as evidenced by his 0.21 BB/K ratio, but that can only improve with experience.
Lavisky also has much to offer defensively: he has a strong arm and plenty of athleticism. He caught a respectable 23 percent of opposing baserunners in 2011, and he committed just nine errors in 76 games in the field.
As a catcher with offensive upside, Lavisky’s bat could prove to be immensely valuable. Any backstop with power ability is considered a great commodity, and Lavisky is no exception. I definitely want to see more from him in 2012, but he has a lot of ability to tap in to and I have confidence that he will take the next step.
This year is the perfect time for his coming-out party as a top prospect. I could see Lavisky in Cleveland by mid-to-late 2014.