Juan Centeno: Boston Red Sox 2019 Preview

The Boston Red Sox currently carry a trio of catchers on their 40-man roster, but that certainly won’t be the case by Opening Day. President of Baseball Operations and de-facto general manager Dave Dombrowksi already said the Sox will deal one of Christian Vazquez, Blake Swihart, and Sandy Leon. Should injury strike, Boston would be forced to turn to the recently-signed Juan Centeno as emergency depth. Seeing as catcher is one of the most physically-demanding positions in baseball, let’s take a look at who Centeno is and what he can provide the Red Sox.

Boston Red Sox 2019 Preview: Juan Centeno

Centeno initially entered professional baseball as the New York Mets’ 32nd-round pick in the 2007 MLB Draft. Given that draft position, nobody ever expect Centeno to turn into anything. Instead, Centeno slowly climbed his way through the minors, making his major league debut in the 2013 season.

Centeno only played in 24 major league games through 2015, but finally earned some regular playing time with the Minnesota Twins in the 2016 season. Playing in 55 games, Centeno finished his season with a .261/.312/.392 slash line and an 88 wRC+. While he was a below-average hitter, his season-long marks fall in a line with a league-average hitter.

The 2016 season was easily the best of Centeno’s career, as the lefty has a career .227/.278/.331 slash line with a 63 wRC+. That said, 2016 was the only time Centeno ever saw regular action on the field. Aside from that one season, Centeno never appeared in more than 22 major league games in a season.

He might be able to provide not-horrible offense, but defense will always be his calling card. Centeno has one of the best arms at the catcher position, which is really saying something. His release time is fantastic and he doesn’t let balls get past him. Basically, he’s Sandy Leon.

The Other Catching Depth

Centeno is a safe backup, but you’d want a little more upside. Unfortunately for the Red Sox, their farm system is a little barren, especially at the catcher position. The two best internal catching prospects are Kole Cottam and Roldani Baldwin, and both are a ways away.

Baldwin joined the Red Sox system back in 2013 but has yet to make it above the High-A Salem Red Sox. Additionally, he has questionable defense and the Red Sox have tried him out at third base in recent seasons. The team appears committed to keeping him as a catcher, but he’s still a long ways away from being major league ready.

Cottam has a higher ceiling, but has basically no experience. The 2018 fourth-round pick impressed with the Lowell Spinners, but only played one game in Greenville before the conclusion of the 2018 season. He has a higher ceiling than Baldwin and might have a future as a backup, he’s at least two or three years away from making it to the majors.

Unfiltered Thoughts on Juan Centeno

In a perfect world, Juan Centeno will never see a major league at-bat with the Boston Red Sox. However, this is a flawed world we live in, and injuries can strike the catcher position. Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart both missed time with injury last year, so Centeno will probably make a brief cameo at some point with the Red Sox.

Anything Centeno brings with his bat will be a nice bonus, as he’s one of the best defensive catchers in the game. Boasting a lightning-fast arm and great reflexes, the Red Sox shouldn’t see any drop off in defensive production when Centeno’s in the game. While he’s yet to be consistent with the bat, none of Boston’s current catchers are offensively gifted either.

Basically, Juan Centeno is a cheaper version of Sandy Leon. His skill set would allow the Red Sox to trade Leon, free up some money, and still have someone in the system with the exact same skill set.

Featured image courtesy of Zimbio.com
(April 24, 2018 – Source: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images North America)

Dave Latham

Engineer by day, sportswriter by night. Follow me @DLPatsThoughts

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