Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox Catcher Makes History with Smart Approach to Reaching Big Leagues

Ryan Lavarnway became the first position player from Yale in the big leagues since 1955 when he appeared for the Red Sox August 18th.
Ryan Lavarnway became the first position player from Yale in the big leagues since 1955 when he appeared for the Red Sox August 18th.
John BotelhoCorrespondent IIAugust 19, 2011

With David Ortiz ailing and Kevin Youkilis hitting the disabled list, Boston Red Sox slugging catching prospect Ryan Lavarnway got the call from Pawtucket to join the big league squad.

Lavarnway has mashed his way into the spotlight this season, blistering AA and AAA pitching in 110 games.  He posted a .931 OPS, slugged an incredible 30 homers and knocked in 85 before getting a chance to sip on a Major League cup of coffee.

Since being drafted, all he has done is to tune up professional pitching and get named the Red Sox Co-Offensive Player of the Year a season ago.

And while he has hit everything thrown his way since turning pro, Lavarnway has always been something of a long shot to reach his current heights.

You see, Lavarnway didn't have a single full-scholarship offer to play baseball at a Division I NCAA school when he finished high school.

So Lavarnway instead wound up taking his game to New Haven, CT to play college ball at Yale University. The big-bodied catcher and his potent bat made people take notice during his time studying and playing baseball for Harvard's biggest rival.

During his sophomore year, he exploded to lead the NCAA in batting average while posting a slash line of .467/.531/.873.  Despite playing in the Ivy League and not the ACC, SEC or any other baseball power conference, Lavarnway found himself a semi-finalist for the NCAA Golden Spikes Award, which honors the top collegiate player each season.

He was putting together another impressive year as a junior before fracturing his wrist.  The Red Sox drafted him in the sixth round and he's been hitting ever since.

Despite overcoming a lack of recruitment in high school, Lavarnway was still facing the uphill fight that no former position player from Yale had reached the big leagues since Dick Tettlebach did in 1955.  A handful of pitchers had made the climb, but no one single hitter had reached the MLB in more than 60 years.

Lavarnway changed all of that on August 18, making his big league debut as the DH for the Red Sox.

And sure, he started 0-for-4, but the smart money on this smart player is that as soon as people start to list off reasons why he can't last there, he'll showcase the main reason he can: He can hit.

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