ADELANTO, Calif. — While the Texas Rangers may have found themselves a diamond in the rough in minor league catching prospect Jose Trevino, don’t count on the Texas native looking too far ahead to all that. All Trevino knows is right here, right now, with the High Desert Mavericks of the High-A California League—and he wants to finish what the club started back in April.
“More than anything, I want to win,” Trevino told Today’s Knuckleball before a recent Mavs game at their home ballpark in Adelanto. “I’m trying to win a championship. I’m trying to do my best to show the organization that I’m a winner, and no matter where you put me, I’m going to win.”
Trevino is playing very well (slashing .292/.335/.400 with 20 doubles, five home runs, 22 walks and just 38 strikeouts through his first 325 at-bats), so he may not be with the Mavericks over the final six weeks of the summer. The 23-year-old Oral Roberts University product was named a California League All-Star this year, and helped graduate some of the Rangers’ top pitching prospects, like Ariel Jurado and Yohander Mendez, past High Desert thanks to his exceptional game management ability behind the plate.
The Mavs do have unfinished business though, and Trevino is winning here in California; after having won the Cal League South Division’s First Half, the club is guaranteed a home series in the playoffs next month, and Trevino figures to be a large part.
In that regard, the Rangers have limited some of his behind-the-plate time in the season’s second half, too. As the season wears on, and temperatures in Adelanto range regularly above 110 degrees, Trevino has found himself working as a designated hitter here and there. Always good-natured and team-focused, one can still tell that it eats at him not to be involved with every pitch.
“Honestly I’m not a fan of being the designated hitter, I’d rather play every day,” he said, laughing. “I like being in and out of the game, and having to think on both sides of the field. [Ever year] I’m planning on catching 140 games, you know? I know I’m not going to be able to do it, I know the Rangers might not let me do it, but I’m here to catch 140 if they let me.”
Few Cal Leaguers have consistently come across as mature and self-aware as Trevino. Where his physical tools are solid, though not spectacular, it’s difficult to truly explain how highly he scores in the intangible ways a player is measured: instinct, leadership, maturity, and that ever-questionable measure of clubhouse presence. In this regard, his teammates are all too eager to do the talking for him.
“He’s one of our captains man, he’s a huge piece to this team, and it’s comforting and reassuring to have him behind the plate,” second baseman Travis Demeritte told Today’s Knuckleball, coincidentally just hours before he was traded away to the Atlanta Braves. “You know Jose is gonna go to war for us. Having that leadership around definitely helps, especially with the younger guys. A lot of younger guys, he really helps get them back on track, and that’s huge.”
As altruistic as Trevino may be—time and again, he’d rather talk about his teammates than himself—he still has lofty personal goals in the game. Perhaps his greatest sign of maturity, though, comes in where those goals lay: They are exclusively process-focused, eschewing results and statistics to instead focus on breaking in the habits and skills that could one day serve him well at the game’s highest level.
“I need to keep staying consistent with my plan, and for me, maybe sometimes that means coming out and going 0-for-4 but I’m executing my plan,” Trevino said, explaining he’s focused on hitting the ball back up the middle rather than trying for cheap Heritage Field power.
“Hey, if I’m executing my plan, I know eventually those hits are gonna fall. I just need to keep polishing myself up as much as I can to get to that point.”
Demeritte, an exceptionally well-regarded prospect himself, thinks Trevino’s polish is starting to shine at the right time.
“He’s been awesome man, the bat has always been there, that’s never been a question,” Demeritte said. “He’s improved a lot defensively, too, and that’s something I’ve talked to him a lot about. That’s one of those areas I know he wanted to get better at, and he made it a priority this year at spring training to get those extra reps in and it’s paying off.”
‘Extra reps’ are an apropos pair of words to use with Trevino; an off-the-charts work ethic not only has the catcher raring to go 140 times every summer, it’ll also be his ticket to Double-A and beyond. So much so, in fact, that success at anything short of that intense level of commitment will leave the wrong taste in the catcher’s mouth.
“Whenever I move up, I really would like it to be earned, not given, if that makes sense,” Trevino admitted. “I like things being earned. If it’s given to me, I will feel guilty. But if I earn it, I’ll feel a lot better about it. Then I know it’ll be time.
“Until then, I’m not going to rush the process,” he continued. “I’ll stay here, enjoy the process with my teammates, and try to win a championship.”