Will Banfield Instills Confidence In His Pitchers
Catcher Will Banfield loves it when basestealers test his arm.
A part-time closer early on at Georgia's Brookwood High, Banfield was clocked at 95 mph as a sophomore and has only gained arm strength since then.
"Before the game, I tell my pitchers, ‘Yo, don’t worry about baserunners. I got you,' " Banfield said. "I’m always on my toes. We only get two or three shots a game to throw someone out. When a guy takes off, it’s game on—me and you. I’m about to hose him, and he’s about to walk back to the dugout.”
Banfield, the best defensive prep catcher in the 2018 draft, is clearly confident. The supplemental second-rounder signed for $1.8 million—twice the slot value at No. 69 overall—because that’s what it took to sign him away from Vanderbilt.
Banfield stands 6 feet and weighs 200 pounds. He began his pro career in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League before the Marlins jumped him to low Class A Greensboro to finish the season. In total he hit .238/.308/.385 with three home runs in 39 games.
But Banfield said whether he goes yard or swings at air, he’s ready to catch as soon as his at-bat is over.
A native of the Atlanta suburb of Lawrenceville, where his family is friendly with Braves manager Brian Snitker, Banfield has been catching since age 14. He emulated catcher Benito Santiago and still plays with that mobile "throw from your knees” style.
Those attributes make Banfield the Marlins' top catching prospect, but beyond that, he last year started taking Spanish classes, which he said helps him communicate with Marlins prospects such as Jorge Guzman and Edward Cabrera, who are from the Dominican Republic.
"They are taking English classes, and we meet in the middle,” said Banfield, who watches Spanish TV whenever possible. "If you don’t have a good relationship with your pitcher, you’re starting off bad.
"Even in the bullpen, if there’s a pitch in the dirt, I block it because I want my pitcher to know that I’m working for him, and he can pitch with confidence.”
— Outfielder Monte Harrison continued to refine his swing in spring training. He toned down his leg kick in the Arizona Fall League and saw good results as he strives to lower his strikeout rate from the 37 percent he finished with at Double-A last year.
— The Marlins lost righthander Merandy Gonzalez on a waiver claim to the Giants. Miami acquired him in the 2017 trade that sent A.J. Ramos to the Mets. Gonzalez made his big league debut last year and compiled a 5.73 ERA in 22 innings.