Brayan Pena

I’ve talked about Pena at length a couple times before. He’s an interesting player, who first came to my attention in his debut in rookie ball, when he hit .370/.446/.468 for Danville. In those times before McCann and Saltalamacchia, the Braves’ system was bare of catching (things change) and hadn’t developed even a backup catcher since Eddie Perez. On the other hand, it was rookie ball, and as a Cuban defector Pena was a 37-year-old grandfather for all we knew. The next year he collapsed, hitting .229/.290/.299 for Macon, and I figured we’d seen the last of him.

He made some sort of adjustment after that. I can’t give details, but he apparently changed his approach at the plate, walking less but making more regular contact. He never struck out a lot, but cut it to about one every ten at-bats, rare in today’s game. In 2003 he hit .294 in Myrtle Beach, but with practically no peripherals — a .320 OBP and a .371 SLG. In 2004 for Greenville, he hit a little better, .314/.349/.401. He had a big year in winter ball this offseason. And, as I’ve covered here, he was hitting like Ty Cobb in Richmond, .417/.465/.485. As you can see, he’s still not walking much, and he doesn’t have much power, but when a guy’s hitting over .400 you can let that slide.

In today’s game, most catchers fall into basically two categories. There are those who make an offensive contribution by hitting for power and drawing some walks, and there are those who don’t make an offensive contribution. Obviously that’s an oversimplification, and there are a few guys who hit for a high average, but other than Johnny Estrada it’s hard to think of a catcher who’s made an offensive contribution through batting average at the exclusion of secondary skills. There aren’t very many singles hitters left in the game today anyway, of course. But when was the last time you saw a catcher who had as many triples in his minor league career as homers? (Pena has eight of both.)

If Pena can really hit over .300 in the majors, he can be a productive backup. It remains to be seen if the team would actually let him do that; most teams seem to want catch-and-throw guys as their backup catchers, and Pena doesn’t have the greatest defensive skills. Of course, if he can hit .350 or whatever — and in a five-year minor league career he’s topped .370 twice — you’ll find a spot for him.

Brayan Pena Career Statistics

2 thoughts on “Brayan Pena”

  1. Mike Redmond is kind of a high average backup, dont’t know much about his defense though

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