Brian Navarreto is a 24-year-old catcher, and the newest member of the Miami Marlins organization.
A 6-foot-4, 220 lb. right-handed hitting catcher and the newest member of the Miami Marlins organization, Brian Navarreto was born on December 29th, 1994 in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. He was initially chosen by the Minnesota Twins in the sixth round of the 2013 MLB Amateur Entry Draft, with the 170th overall pick.
Navarreto has yet to make his major league debut, but there is some precedent for players chosen 170th overall in making it that far. Over picks from the last 55 years, 25 percent have graduated to baseball’s top level, according to baseball-reference. The 14-player fraternity is led by LHP Bobby Madritsch (1998, Cincinnati Reds, 2.2 career WAR) and RHP Sam Gaviglio (2011, St. Louis Cardinals, 1.9 WAR).
In 50 games at the double-A level in 2019, Navarreto hit just .175/.225/.319. His career slashline isn’t really very much better, clocking in with a modest mark of .214/.264/.307. Offense isn’t a gift that’s very particular to Navarreto.
But defensively, this guy is something special.
The above tweet was from yesterday’s game, in the Puerto Rico Winter League. Notice Navarreto didn’t get a great pop time, and the pitch wasn’t even a fastball, but it didn’t really matter. Over his seven-season minor league career, Navarreto has thrown out nearly half of runners attempting to steal on him. That’s a not-small-sample-size of 400 would-be stealers, who collected a modest 52.5 percent success rate running on the backstop.
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With the free agency of Bryan Holaday, Tyler Heineman, Wilkin Castillo, and Adrian Nieto, Navarreto jumps to nearly the top of the minor league depth chart. He’s currently fourth in the entire system, behind Jorge Alfaro, Chad Wallach, and Santiago Chavez. Remember the 2019 campaign saw the top five in the system get major league repetitions, so there’s a good chance that Navarreto could play himself into the big leagues in 2020. Don’t be surprised to see him at some point make a spot start or two.
So he’s not a great hitter, but that’s not what makes a great backup catcher, right? It’s in the defense, the pitch-framing, and the game-calling, and Navarreto’s got a legend-status arm behind the plate and a career .989 fielding percentage. What’s not to love?
Thanks for reading this evening. Stick around for more Marlins news as it happens.