Scouts Notice Lavarnway's Defense

BOSTON—Catcher Ryan Lavarnway appeared overwhelmed at times by his defensive limitations during his full-season debut with low Class A Greenville in 2009. Things got so bad that the Red Sox avoided pairing him with particular power pitchers.

"There were some games and some pitchers that would go out there and I couldn't handle their stuff," Lavarnway said. "I got embarrassed, (and) I never want to feel embarrassed.

"It was hard for me to deal with not being the best, and I was going to do everything I could to make myself the best. So I put in the best work ethic, the most hours, and I still take that approach."

After years of work both on his technique and to improve his flexibility and athleticism behind the plate, Lavarnway has muted the doubts about his defense.
This year, for the first time in his career, he served as everyday catcher for his club, in this case Triple-A Pawtucket. 

International League managers voted Lavarnway the Best Defensive Catcher in the league's Best Tools survey. Scouts for several organizations now believe that, while he may not be Ivan Rodriguez, he's turned himself into a legitimate defender at the position.

And that, in turn, opens the door for Lavarnway to be on the doorstep of what could be a very promising big league future.

The 25-year-old hit .295/.376/.439 in 83 games with Pawtucket this season prior to an early-August callup. He launched eight homers and further underscored that he has well-above-average offensive potential for his position—even as those numbers represented a power decline from 2011, when he hit 32 homers in 116 minor league games.

"He worked on some agility stuff all winter and dropped a few pounds, and that's really helped him out," Pawtucket manager Arnie Beyeler said. "Maybe that has hindered him in his power. There's maybe some validity to that. Also, him catching every day, that's part of the deal."

It is a deal that Lavarnway seemingly would gladly accept.


• The Red Sox promoted shortstop Xander Bogaerts from high Class A Salem to Double-A Portland. He batted .302/.378/.505 in Salem (before homering in his Portland debut), becoming one of five 19-year-olds since 2000 in the Carolina League to have an OPS greater than .800.

• Righthander Brandon Workman was promoted to Double-A Portland after going 7-7, 3.40 with 8.5 strikeouts and 1.6 walks per nine innings in Salem.