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Rangers scouting report: High Desert Mavericks catcher Jose Trevino

Photo by Bobby Demuro
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JOSE TREVINO

Organization: Texas Rangers || 2016 club: High Desert Mavericks (A-Adv.)
Position: C || Age: 23 || DOB: November 28, 1992 || Birthplace: Corpus Christi, TX
Acquired: 2014 MLB Draft (6th rd., Oral Roberts) || 2016 prospect rank: TEX #21 (MLB.com)
2016 stats: 109 games, 433 AB, .303/.342/.434/.776, 30 2B, 9 HR, 26 BB, 49 K, 2 SB

  • Trevino’s 2016

Considering his High Desert Mavericks won the Cal League title in 2016, and Jose Trevino was effectively the glue that held together that pitching staff—no small feat, considering they played at the most offensively-favored ballpark in all of pro ball—the Rangers’ catching prospect would have had a very good year even if he had hit poorly. That he crested .300 and put up 30 doubles and 131 hits in 109 games, then, is icing on the cake for one of the brightest prospects to graduate the California League in 2016.

We’ve heard from Trevino several times before; he impressed early by showing notable maturity and pitch-calling acumen in just the first two months of the summer at High Desert. Then, later in the summer, when it was clear he was likely the best catcher on the circuit, he downplayed the notoriety and pushed forward toward team and personal goals—no doubt an organization’s dream mentality.

Statistically, it all came down like this: a .303/.342/.434 slash line in 433 at-bats, and a very encouraging 26:49 walk-to-strikeout ratio (which itself is doubly notable considering how aggressive Trevino is at the plate; more on that in a moment). What Trevino offers, though, is so far beyond the statistics so as to be difficult to convey through writing.

Just as it is with ballplayers like Fernery Ozuna, Jose Trevino can flat out play the game. A very good throwing arm, strong and consistent receiving skills, exceptional game-calling ability, and the intelligence to think ahead pitch to pitch and recall hitters game to game in an encyclopedic fashion all land Trevino far ahead of the curve for this level and his age.

Linking this all together, Trevino’s biggest asset in 2016 was consistency; he didn’t wear out down the stretch despite oppressive temperatures and air conditions in High Desert. The worst month of his summer (June) still saw him stay afloat with a .250 average across the 30 days, and his post-All-Star break numbers (.321/.359/.484) were even markedly better than before the break in mid-June. That’s notable especially because of the position he plays, and it highlights a hypothesis not hard to see coming: he’s earned that promotion he humbly played down before, and now, he’s ready for more responsibility behind the dish.

 

Just to put a bow on it for good measure, Trevino started all seven of the Mavericks’ Cal League playoff games behind the plate and racked up a cool .393 batting average (11-for-28) with a home run and nine RBI—and no strikeouts—across those games. Had a ridiculously dominant pitching performance not happened in the Championship Series (which ought to be credited to Trevino as much as Brett Martin), you can’t help but wonder if the Mavs’ catcher might have earned MVP honors for the week.

  • Scouting Trevino

As strong as Trevino was this summer in High Desert, and as optimistic as the future appears to be even just relative to his most recent results in the Cal League, his scouting report and projection offer their own unique bright spot, too. Trevino is surprisingly athletic for a catcher, which makes some sense considering the fact that he was an infielder for the majority of his amateur career. His relatively fresh legs behind the plate ought to serve him very well in the future, especially in the coming years. He’s certainly not a threat to run or beat out any infield singles, but relative to his position, he moves surprisingly well and shows intelligence on the basepaths that you’d expect from a well-regarded, mature player of his ilk.

Behind the plate, Trevino is as solid as they come at this level and age. As he grows in the game—and gets more experience behind the plate—he’ll further refine his pitch framing and blocking, but he has shown the acumen with both that indicate consistent development over the coming years. His catch-and-throw skills are a particular highlight, and his arm strength is exceptional. He is at once both willing to take chances with back picks on the bases and yet smart enough to know when and how to take those chances without making an exceptionally ill-advised throw. Those instincts carry over to his pitch-calling and relationship-building with his pitching staff, too, the lot of whom in High Desert continually raved about him all summer.

“Every team he has been on has won the first half [of the season], and he’s the common thread of this team that the pitching staff has been so good,” Mavs reliever Shane McCain had mentioned during a conversation earlier this summer. “This is one of the best pitching staffs in High Desert history, and that’s all Jose. He’s incredible.”

‘Nuff said.

 

At the plate, Trevino could stand to become something special, too, though it’ll be interesting to see exactly how he adjusts to pitching in the high minors, and then in the majors, with his exceptionally aggressive approach. Back in May, Rockies prospects both raved and (good-naturedly) vented about Trevino’s ability, noting how aggressive he was in seeking something to hit early in the count. See the ball, hit the ball, the saying goes, and Trevino seems to live that out in his offensive work.

That resulted in a lot of success in High-A—sure, some of which ought to be put in context based on his home park—but it might be a challenge for Trevino to be that aggressive moving forward as the book on him grows and better pitchers offer better breaking stuff earlier in counts.

That said, a few things are working in his favor with the aggressive approach. For one, he’s exceptional at hitting the ball the other way with authority, as you’ll see from his spray chart, courtesy MLBFarm.com, here:

Jose Trevino's 2016 spray chart in High Desert.

Jose Trevino’s 2016 spray chart in High Desert.

As is the case with virtually every single professional hitter at any level, Trevino’s long ball power goes to his pull side, but he does very well hitting line drives the other way and racking up singles and a fair share of his doubles to the right side of second base. With an aggressive approach like his, there is a world of difference between a player who pulls off everything and tries to hit the ball exclusively to left field, and a player like Trevino who is looking for the first hittable pitch that he can stay through and slap to right-center. Understanding that little nuance in his aggression means he may do well in adjusting to better pitching simply because he’s proven so proficient at going the other way already. (Not to mention he only struck out 49 times in 433 at-bats this summer, and his contact skills will help him here, too.)

There’s another thing working in Trevino’s favor at the plate that bears brief acknowledgement: He’s a catcher. Almost irrespective of how he does beside the plate, the majority of his value at the big league level will come from what he does behind it working with a pitching staff. Trevino would be valuable to a team were he to hit about .230—that he just turned in a very strong offensive year, too, is the cherry on top.

  • Going Forward

There are precious few men who played in the Cal League in 2016 that I feel comfortable immediately projecting as sure-fire, successful major leaguers.

Jose Trevino is one of those players.

Of course, the jury is still out on whether he can become an everyday starter or find a role in a catching platoon or backup job, and the first test will come very soon here when he appears in the Arizona Fall League later this month. But as sure as I can say it, Jose Trevino will be a successful big leaguer. (Hey, if I’m wrong, save this and make fun of me on Twitter in a few years.)

With physical skills that will play well at higher levels, exceptional defensive ability and awareness, and a makeup and personality that are truly off the charts, Trevino is as solid as they come. The Rangers have a very strong catcher in their midst.

Rangers scouting report: High Desert Mavericks catcher Jose Trevino

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