SOX ON DECK: Sox draftee Ryan Lavarnway answers questions

Evan Brunell@evanbrunellFeatured ColumnistJuly 17, 2008

The Red Sox drafted Ryan Lavarnway, 20, of Yale with the 202nd overall pick (6th round) in the 2008 Amateur Player Draft.

A native of Woodland Hills, California, Ryan has not signed with the Red Sox yet, but will do so “hopefully soon.” He hit .467/.531/.873 in his sophomore year, his best line in college and leading the NCAA in batting average.

He followed it up with a similar line in 2008 before suffering a broken wrist in April. Ryan was gracious enough to answer a few questions for Fire Brand…

You broke your left wrist. How did you injure it and what has the rehab consisted of?

I broke the scaphoid bone in my left wrist when I leapt over the catcher in an attempt to avoid a tag in a bang-bang play at home plate versus Harvard April 12. Doctors put a screw in my wrist a week later to help the healing process happen faster. Since I’ve gotten the cast off rehab started slow with as little as scrunching a towel or lifting one-pound weights, and have progressed to a point now where I can support my full body weight for pull-ups as well as getting back to swinging the bat.

Have the Red Sox told you what they plan on your short-term future (this and next year) being?

As far as I know the plan is to send me to the Lowell Spinners soon, but past that I do not know.

What do you hope to bring to the table for the Red Sox?

My hope is that through tireless work, extra practice, and a great mental approach, the development system of the Red Sox can help me develop into a player that can make a positive impact both offensively and defensively on a daily basis.

I’ve heard reports that you are a “team leader.” What does that mean? What do you do that gives you that label?

Being a team leader, especially as the catcher, means a couple of different things. It's different for every group of individuals. On past teams it has meant setting a good example through my own actions, being fair and understanding, and trying to always be a source of emotional stability. Through the ups and downs of a long emotional baseball season, teammates need to know they can look at you to be a stable force. Performing well in clutch situations always helps too :)

You only started catching in 2007, playing outfield previously. Why did you switch? What do you like the most about catching?

I played catcher in Little League, and moved to outfield in high school because an older player had already earned the catching spot. The coaches at Yale moved me back to catcher my sophomore year after I asked them to give me a chance back there. I’ve always loved catching. I enjoy being a part of every play. I’d have to say that my favorite part of catching is working together with my pitcher to call a great game.

A lot of catchers struggle with the ability to differentiate between catching and hitting, they carry problems (and success) with each to the other job. Catching is one of, if not the, hardest job to do consistently in the major leagues. Which aspect do you take more pride in and how come?

I try to take more pride in my defensive game. I still need to put a lot of work in on both aspects of my game to improve to a Major League level. I’ve always believed that offense wins games, but defense wins championships.

How did you feel being drafted by the Red Sox? Had they exhibited interest or did this come as a complete surprise? Prior to being drafted, what was your opinion of the Sox? Yankees II or did you like them?

I didn’t know much about the Red Sox until I got to Yale a little more than three years ago. One of my teammates, and now my best friend, quickly converted me to a Red Sox fan. We would take the train up to Fenway to catch games at least once every semester, and I loved the fans and the atmosphere at the stadium. I couldn’t be happier than to be with the Red Sox.

If you had to tell Red Sox fans one thing, what would it be?

If I had to tell Red Sox fans one thing, it would be that through interactions with my friend, and the time I’ve spent at Fenway I’ve felt the magic they create in the atmosphere each and every time their players step on the field. I’ve experienced how they are some of if not THE best fans in baseball. And I hope I am lucky enough to play for them one day.

Who in the major leagues would you give anything to catch for one game? How come?

I gotta say, if I could pick one game to catch, I’d pick two guys. Josh Beckett would start and Papelbon would come in to close it out. That would be awesome.

With the long-term issue at catcher first and foremost in all of our minds for the coming years, the drafting of a catcher doesn’t come as a surprise. It certainly seems like the Red Sox got their hands on a great option to one day squat behind the plate at Fenway Park. Good luck, Ryan!

To the community: What do you think of the Red Sox’s catching situation in the minor leagues? How far off could you see Lavarnway making the bigs? At 20, he has a long way to go, but projects him hitting the bigs in 2011 at age 23. Certainly an aggressive timetable, but he certainly has the chance to make it.


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