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Pay attention to Rangers catching prospect Jose Trevino

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Former Oral Roberts standout has developed into top-notch defender with a chance to hit.

Minor League Baseball: Arizona Fall League-Fall Stars Game Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

MinorLeagueBaseball.com had a nice article this morning about Texas Rangers catching prospect Jose Trevino. We’ve had our eye on Trevino here at Minor League Ball for a couple of years now and the rest of the baseball world is now noticing.

In the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book, I wrote the following report on Trevino:

Jose Trevino, C, Texas Rangers
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 5-11 WT: 195 DOB: November 28, 1992

Trevino was drafted in the sixth round in 2014 from Oral Roberts. He played third base, shortstop, and catcher in college and was solid everywhere. The Rangers made him a full-time backstop and he performed well in that role for Hickory, throwing out 33% of runners while maintaining very low passed ball and error rates. He’s quick behind the plate, reliable, and field-aware; no question he sticks there. His bat is interesting too. He has more power than a typical 5-11, 195 player, and he does a good job making hard contact. On the other hand, he is an impatient hitter with a low walk rate, hampering his OBP. I rated Trevino as a Sleeper Alert guy entering 2015 and he did enough to live up to that with the defense and power, but we really need to see more OBP to project his bat well to higher levels. We’ll hold the Grade C+ for another year.

Trevino hit well in 2016, with a .303/.342/.434 line in the California League, granted he was helped by the environment at High Desert. His walk rate ticked up a bit and his strikeouts declined, both good signs, and he continued to thrive with the glove. He nailed 48 percent of runners last year while lowering his error and passed ball rates from already impressive levels and drawing heavy praise for his handling of the pitching staff.

Sent to the Arizona Fall League, he hit .230/.260/.365 in 18 games and continued to turn heads with this defense. He’s just 1-for-7 in Rangers spring camp but as the Milb.com article indicates, his glove is drawing raves from Texas officials.

For all the well-deserved recent attention, the outlook for Trevino hasn’t really changed much from a year ago: the glove is legitimately excellent, but the bat remains unproven. There’s little question that his defense will get him to the majors, perhaps this year, but hitting will ultimately determine if he is a possible regular or “merely” a defensive specialist.

Further offensive development is not impossible at all. The parallel that comes to mind is Yadier Molina, who like Trevino was a defensive specialist without a strong bat at first, but who maintained low strikeout rates as he moved up, got a major league job with his defense, and eventually developed as a hitter.

They even have the same height/weight data, both 5-11; Trevino is at 195 and Molina is 205 pounds, but when Molina was Trevino’s age he was also 195 pounds. Molina did have an age advantage in his profile; he was already in the majors at 23, though he hit just .216/.274/.321 (.595 OPS) that year.

But funny enough, the ZIPS projection for Trevino if he were promoted to the majors this year is .229/.260/.341, .601 OPS, which is almost exactly the same as Molina at the same age.

Hmm. . .

That doesn’t mean Trevino will turn out as well as Molina did, but there are parallels, enough that we cannot dismiss the idea that he will hit eventually.