Lavarnway with the Boston Red Sox in 2012
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|Catcher / Designated hitter|
August 7, 1987 |
|August 18, 2011, for the Boston Red Sox|
(through 2015 season)
|Runs batted in||40|
Ryan Cole Lavarnway (pronounced la-VARN-way; born August 7, 1987) is an American professional baseball catcher in the Toronto Blue Jays organization. He has played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles, and Atlanta Braves.
Lavarnway attended Yale University, where in 2007 he won the NCAA batting title by hitting .467, and led the NCAA with an .873 slugging percentage. That year, Lavarnway also set the Ivy League record with a 25-game hitting streak. In addition, he set the Ivy League all-time career home run record, with 33.
Lavarnway was drafted by the Red Sox in 2008. In 2009, he led the South Atlantic League with 59 extra-base hits, and in 2010 he was a Carolina League Mid-Season and Post-Season All Star, and was named the Red Sox co-Minor League Offensive Player of the Year. In 2011, after he hit 30 home runs in 478 minor league at bats, Baseball America named Lavarnway the best power prospect in the International League and named him the catcher on its 2011 Minor League All-Star Team, and the Red Sox organization named him co-winner of their Offensive Player of the Year award.
He was called up to the major leagues by the Red Sox in August 2011, and divided his playing time between Pawtucket and the majors after that. Entering the 2012 season he was the No. 9 prospect in the Red Sox system according to Baseball America, and that season he was the International League All Star starting catcher, and a post-season IL All-Star. In 2014 with Pawtucket, Lavarnway led the team to the International League title, and was voted MVP of the IL series. He began the 2015 season on the Orioles' roster, was designated for assignment in May and opted to become a free agent, signed a minor league contract with the Atlanta Braves, and was brought back up to the majors in mid-June. He was outrighted and re-signed by the Braves to a minor league deal, and in May 2016, he was granted his release from the Triple-A Gwinnett Braves.
Lavarnway, who is Jewish, as is his mother, was born in Burbank, California and grew up in Woodland Hills, California. He played catcher in Little League. He attended El Camino Real High School, where he played outfield for the "Conquistadors" baseball team.
Lavarnway attended Yale University, where he was a philosophy major and played baseball for the Yale Bulldogs in the Ivy League. In 2006, he primarily played right field, and earned Ivy Player and Rookie of the Week honors on March 21.
In 2007 he moved from right field to catcher. Lavarnway led the NCAA in batting average (.467) and slugging percentage (.873), while setting Yale single-season records in those categories as well as in home runs (14), hits (70), doubles (17), RBIs (55), and total bases (131). He also had an Ivy-League-record 25-game hitting streak. He won the G.H. Walker, Jr. Award as Most Valuable Player. In addition, he was named Second-Team All-American by PingBaseball.com, Third-Team All-American by Baseball America, First-Team All-American by Jewish Sports Review, and Second-Team All-New England and Second-Team All-Northeast, while unanimously being elected First-Team All-Ivy.
Lavarnway played for the Manchester Silkworms in the New England Collegiate Baseball League in the summer of 2007, where he batted .313 and was honored as a starter on the league All Star team, and also competed in the home run derby.
In his junior year in 2008, Lavarnway led the Ivy League in home runs (13), RBIs (42), walks (29), slugging percentage (.824), and on-base percentage (.541), while batting .398. He missed the last 11 games of the year after breaking the scaphoid bone in his left wrist in April, diving into home plate. He became the Ivy League's all-time leader in career home runs, with 33.
Lavarnway won the Ivy League Player of the Week award three times in the first season's first four weeks (March 11, March 26, and April 1). He was a semi-finalist for the Johnny Bench Award and the Golden Spikes Award, was named Third-Team All-American by PingBaseball.com, and was named Second-Team All-Ivy and First Team All-New England. He finished his three-year-career with a .384 batting average, 33 home runs, and 122 RBIs in 120 games.
In 2012, Craig Breslow (also Jewish) and Lavarnway became the first Yale players to be Major League teammates since 1949, and the first All-Yale battery in the major leagues since 1883. Lavarnway wants to return to Yale to finish his philosophy degree.
Minor league career
Lavarnway was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 6th round of the 2008 Major League Baseball Draft. He signed for a $325,000 signing bonus, though he vows to study the extra year he needs to complete his degree. He had been projected to be drafted higher, before he broke his left wrist in April 2008.
In 2009, he played for the Greenville Drive for the year, in the Class A South Atlantic League, and started using a bigger bat. Lavarnway hit 21 home runs (a team all-time record) with a .540 slugging percentage (both tops for Red Sox minor leaguers) and 36 doubles (a team record), a league-leading 59 extra-base hits, and 87 RBIs (2nd in the league) in 404 at bats.
Lavarnway split 2010 between the Salem Red Sox of the Class A+ Carolina League, and the Portland Sea Dogs of the Class AA Eastern League, combining for 22 home runs (2nd among Red Sox minor leaguers; his 14 homers in his Carolina League stint led the league), 102 RBIs (first in the Red Sox system, and 11th among all minor leaguers), and a .489 slugging percentage (tops among Red Sox minor leaguers) in 462 at bats. He was a Carolina League Player of the Week (April 19), Mid-Season All Star, and Post-Season All Star, as well as an Eastern League Player of the Week (August 30). He was leading the league in homers, RBIs, and runs at the time of his promotion. For 2010, he was named the Red Sox co-Minor League Offensive Player of the Year, along with first baseman Anthony Rizzo. He also threw out 33% of attempted base-stealers, and was rated as the top Red Sox catching prospect by Baseball America.
Lavarnway started the 2011 season by splitting it between Portland and the Pawtucket Red Sox in the Class AAA International League, for whom he batted third in the lineup. With Portland, he hit 14 home runs with a .510 slugging percentage in 208 at bats, and with Pawtucket he hit 16 home runs with a .608 slugging percentage in 209 at bats. That was good for a combined total in mid-August of 30 home runs (tied for third-most in the minors), 85 RBIs, and a .559 slugging percentage in 478 at bats. By the All Star break, he was leading all players in the Red Sox organization, including major leaguers, in home runs.
He was also voted the International League Player of the Week on July 25, and received Topps Minor League Player of the Month honors for July. Baseball America named Lavarnway the best power prospect in the International League. The Red Sox organization named him a co-winner of their Offensive Player of the Year award. Defensively, his "pop times" on his throws from home-to-second-base were consistently 1.95–1.97 seconds, which corresponded to the major league average, and through mid-August he had made only one error behind the plate. Baseball America named him the catcher on its 2011 Minor League All-Star Team, noting that he "stands well above the field". MLB.com ranked him the No. 93 prospect in Major League Baseball.
Entering the 2012 season he was the No. 9 prospect in the Red Sox system according to Baseball America. In 2012, he was the International League All Star starting catcher, and also a post-season IL All-Star. In 2013, he threw out 18 of 45 attempted base stealers (40.0%), the 4th-best percentage among International League catchers. Through 2014, Lavarnway over his minor league career averaged 31% caught stealing over seven seasons. In 2014 with Pawtucket, Lavarnway led the team to the International League title, and was voted MVP of the IL series after batting 10-for-22.
Pawtucket hitting coach Chili Davis said of Lavarnway: "The discipline he shows up there [at bat] is big-league discipline. The kid can hit." Manager Arnie Beyeler observed: "The way he's hit the ball, it looks like he's playing tee-ball out there." Former major leaguer Ken Ryan compared him to Mike Lieberthal, whose offensive ability was far ahead of his catching ability when he first made it to the major leagues, but who over time established himself as a defensive catcher as well.
Through 2014, Lavarnway had hit .283/.375/.479 in the minor leagues.
Major league career
Boston Red Sox (2011–14)
On August 18, 2011, Lavarnway was called up to the Red Sox. He filled the roster spot of Kevin Youkilis, who went on the disabled list. Since Lavarnway was born, the only other Yale alumni to have played in the majors have been pitchers Ron Darling (1983–95) and Craig Breslow (2005–2015).
On September 27, with both Jason Varitek and Jarrod Saltalamacchia injured, Lavarnway started for the Red Sox and hit his first two major league home runs with 4 RBI in a key 8–7 victory over the Baltimore Orioles. Lavarnway became the first Red Sox player to homer in his first start at catcher since Danny Sheaffer in 1987, and the youngest to have a multi-home run game since Nomar Garciaparra did it at exactly the same age (24 years, 51 days) in 1997.
On March 27, 2013, the Red Sox optioned Lavarnway to Pawtucket. Manager John Farrell said: "Right now he needs 'everyday' at-bats." Commenting on Lavarnway having been timed at 1.9 seconds throwing out a runner trying to steal second, Farrell said: "More than acceptable at the big league level." Lavarnway was recalled to Boston on April 25 and optioned back on April 28 to make room for John Lackey without making an appearance. Larvarnway was called up for a third time on May 12 after David Ross was placed on the 7-day disabled list for a concussion. Lavarnway was optioned May 24.
He was called up again on June 18, 2013 after Ross was placed on the 7-day disabled list for a concussion. On August 6, while catching knuckleballer Steve Wright in his first major league start, Lavarnway tied a Major League record with four passed balls in one inning. The record was set by Ray Katt of the New York Giants in 1954, catching knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm, and tied by Gino Petralli of the Texas Rangers in 1987, catching knuckleballer Charlie Hough. Overall in 2013, he batted .299 in 25 regular season games.
In the Spring of 2014 Lavarnway was tutored to play first base by infield instructor Brian Butterfield. Lavarnway started the 2014 season in Pawtucket, where he batted .265 with two home runs and 11 RBI in 44 games. He was recalled to Boston on May 26, and started at first base for the first time in the major leagues on May 29 against the Atlanta Braves.
However, he left the game early with left wrist soreness, and was placed on the 15-day disabled list the next day after an MRI revealed a broken hamate bone in the wrist. He had surgery to remove the hamate bone from his left wrist at the Cleveland Clinic on June 4, and began a rehab assignment on July 21. He was designated for assignment on November 25, 2014.
Baltimore Orioles (2015)
The Los Angeles Dodgers claimed Lavarnway off waivers on December 5, 2014. Lavarnway was out of options, and therefore could not be sent to the minor leagues without first clearing waivers. However, he was designated for assignment five days later, to make room on the team's roster. Lavarnway was then claimed off waivers by the Chicago Cubs on December 19, 2014. Four days later, however, the Cubs also put him on waivers.
Lavarnway changed teams again on December 23, when the Baltimore Orioles – his fourth team in 18 days – claimed him off waivers from the Cubs. Lavarnway was again designated for assignment on January 9. He began the 2015 season on the Orioles' opening day roster. After appearing in only ten games, he was designated for assignment on May 26. Manager Buck Showalter said: "I just don't think Ryan's swing and the things that he's capable of doing are conducive to playing once a week," and indicated that he hoped Lavarnway would accept a Norfolk roster position. Instead, Lavarnway opted to become a free agent.
Atlanta Braves (2015–16)
On May 30, 2015, Lavarnway signed a minor league contract with the Atlanta Braves. Playing for Triple-A Gwinnett, in 49 plate appearances he batted .268/.388/.463 with two home runs and eight RBIs, and was lauded for his handling of the pitchers. He was called up to the majors on June 15 to replace the struggling Christian Bethancourt. He was outrighted off the roster on October 9, 2015, and was re-signed to a minor league deal by the organization. He was invited to the Braves' spring training. Lavarnway was granted his release on May 15, 2016, after the Braves decided that they would be keeping A.J. Pierzynski as their primary catcher, limiting the chances that Lavarnway would return to the MLB.
Toronto Blue Jays
- "Young catcher takes advantage of time with Red Sox". Jewish Tribune. September 27, 2011. Retrieved September 14, 2013.
- Peter Dreier. "How Will Jewish Ballplayers Handle the Yom Kippur Quandry?". Huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved September 14, 2013.
- "Jewish Sports Review Tabs Adam Amar and Joey Lieberman 2007 All-Americans". CSTV. July 17, 2007. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
- Ron Kaplan (August 18, 2011). "One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor". New Jersey Jewish News. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
- "Red Sox prospect Ryan Lavarnway gets call-up, will play tonight". Jewish Baseball News. August 16, 2011. Retrieved August 20, 2011.
- "SOX ON DECK: Sox draftee Ryan Lavarnway answers questions". Bleacher Report. July 17, 2008. Retrieved September 25, 2013.
- "Ryan Lavarnway". Yalebulldogs.com. April 6, 2007. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
- Peter Yoon; Eric Sondheimer (May 28, 2005). "High School Report; Meusborn Close to His Sixth Title". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
- Eric Sondheimer (June 27, 2011). "Keeping tabs: Ryan Lavarnway". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
- "Ryan Lavarnway Awards". The Baseball Cube. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
- Baseball Prospectus 2011. Baseball Prospectus (John Wiley and Sons). 2011. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
- Marty Dobrow (July 19, 2011). "Two Boston Red Sox prospects and former Ivy League rivals find common ground". ESPN. Retrieved August 20, 2011.
- "Ryan Lavarnway Stats, Bio". mlb.com. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
- "Boston Promotes Ryan Lavarnway". Fangraphs.com. August 19, 2011. Retrieved August 26, 2011.
- Sachs, Pete. "Seamless Transition for Lavarnway". minorleaguebaseball.com. Retrieved August 20, 2011.
- "Lavarnway Among Golden Spikes Award Semifinalists". CSTV. May 21, 2008. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
- Andrew Merritt (July 23, 2007). "Borrell helps South win for teammate's late mother". The Berkshire Eagle. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
- Paul Doyle (August 18, 2011). "On the Fly: Lavarnway Adds More Ivy To Red Sox". Hartford Courant. Retrieved August 20, 2011.
- Dom Amore (February 27, 2011). "Red Sox Prospect Lavarnway Knows The Drill". Hartford Courant. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
- "Bulldogs in Beantown". Yale Daily News. September 5, 2012. Retrieved September 26, 2013.
- Gordon Edes (June 8, 2008). "Boston Red Sox – Gambling is permitted". The Boston Globe. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
- "Bulldogs, Big Green Split Again". CSTV. April 20, 2008. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
- Hatfield, Chris (April 1, 2010). "SoxProspects News: Q&A with Ryan Lavarnway". soxprospects.com. Retrieved September 27, 2013.
- "Ryan Lavarnway Minor League Statistics & History". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
- Michael Vega (June 17, 2011). "Lavarnway swings into action with Pawtucket". Boston Globe. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
- "Lavarnway and Middlebrooks' Back-to-Back Jacks Give Greenville 3–2 Win". OurSports Central. September 10, 2009. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
- "Oscar Tejeda's 12th Inning Single Secures 7–6 Walk-Off Victory". OurSports Central. September 3, 2009. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
- Smith, Daren (April 16, 2010). "Salem's Lavarnway off to torrid start". minorleaguebaseball.com. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
- "Ryan Lavarnway Stats, Bio | Pawtucket Red Sox Stats". minorleaguebaseball.com. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
- "Former Salem catcher living big league dream". Retrieved June 2, 2014.[dead link]
- "Surging PawSox Sweep IL Weekly Awards". OurSports Central. July 25, 2011. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
- Fenton, Jim (September 18, 2010). "Francona not ready to retire ... yet". The Patriot Ledger. Retrieved August 20, 2011.
- Peter Abraham (November 3, 2010). "Red Sox hire Young as pitching coach". Boston Globe. Retrieved August 20, 2011.
- Tim Britton (August 18, 2011). "With injuries piling up, Lavarnway finally gets his shot". The Providence Journal. Retrieved August 20, 2011.
- "July Topps Player of the Month Winners". minorleaguebaseball.com. February 15, 2010. Retrieved August 19, 2011.
- Chip Malafronte (August 14, 2011). "Wallingford's Tyler Mizenko begins pro journey". Connecticut Post-Chronicle. Retrieved August 20, 2011.
- Hardacker, Jonathan (September 17, 2011). "Ryan Lavarnway, Tommy Hottovy Among Red Sox’ 2011 Minor League Award Winners". NESN. Retrieved September 25, 2013.
- Flannery, Paul (August 15, 2011). "Why Ryan Lavarnway became one who didn't get away from Red Sox". WEEI. Retrieved August 20, 2011.
- Rohrbach, Ben. "Lavarnway honored by Baseball America". Weei.com. Retrieved September 14, 2013.
- "Ex-Red Sox Ryan Lavarnway Changes Teams Yet Again, Now With Orioles". NESN.com.
- "Ryan Lavarnway Stats, Video Highlights, Photos, Bio". Boston Red Sox. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
- "Drew Butera was a Great Relief Pitcher". Lasorda's Lair.
- "Pawtucket wins International League title, 4–1". BoSox Injection. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
- Brian MacPherson (July 21, 2011). "Impressive discipline and eye-popping results have put Ryan Lavarnway on big-league track". The Providence Journal. Retrieved August 20, 2011.
- McGair, Brendan (July 28, 2011). "Putting the trade deadline in perspective". The Call. Retrieved August 20, 2011.
- "Dodgers claim catcher Ryan Lavarnway from Boston". MLB.com. December 5, 2014. Retrieved December 24, 2014.
- Kerzel, Pete (May 19, 2010). "Carolina League notebook". minorleaguebaseball.com. Retrieved August 20, 2011.
- Nick Cafardo. "Red Sox 7, Royals 1 – Extra Bases". Boston Globe. Retrieved August 20, 2011.
- Peter Abraham (September 28, 2011). "All square: Sox straighten out, stay tied with one to go". Boston Globe. Retrieved September 28, 2011.
- Rohrbach, Ben. "Full Count » Ryan Lavarnway: ‘This is what you dream about as a kid’". Fullcount.weei.com. Retrieved September 14, 2013.
- Lauber, Scott (August 1, 2012). "Ryan Lavarnway called up, Daniel Nava to DL". Boston Herald. Retrieved December 24, 2014.
- "Red Sox option Lavarnway to Pawtucket". Comcast SportsNet. March 27, 2013. Retrieved September 14, 2013.
- Forde, Craig (March 27, 2013). "Ryan Lavarnway optioned to Pawtucket". Boston.com. Retrieved September 14, 2013.
- "Red Sox catcher Ryan Lavarnway ties big league record with four passed balls". mlb.com. Retrieved September 27, 2013.
- "Los Angeles Dodgers claim C/1B Ryan Lavarnway off waivers from Boston Red Sox". masslive.com. December 5, 2014.
- "Full Count » Red Sox call up C Ryan Lavarnway, send P Alex Wilson to Pawtucket". WEEI.com. May 26, 2014. Retrieved May 31, 2014.
- "After starting at first, Lavarnway hurts wrist". Ian Browne and Quinn Roberts / MLB.com. May 29, 2014. Retrieved May 31, 2014.
- Mastrodonato, Jason (May 30, 2014). "Ryan Lavarnway to DL with broken bone in wrist, Alex Hassan called up to make his major league debut". masslive.com. Retrieved May 31, 2014.
- Michael Silverman (June 3, 2014). "David Ortiz still riled up about David Price". Boston Herald.
- "Hot prospect Mookie Betts promoted to Triple A". The Boston Globe. June 4, 2014.
- "Ryan Lavarnway: Diagnosed With Broken Hamate Bone". rotowire.com. Retrieved June 2, 2014.
- "No teeth (yet) to Hamels rumors". ESPN. July 21, 2014.
- "Catcher Ryan Lavarnway Designated for Assignment". MILB.com. November 25, 2014. Retrieved December 24, 2014.
- "Dodgers claim Ryan Lavarnway". providencejournal.com. December 5, 2014.
- "Dodgers add Lavarnway to catching mix". The Orange County Register. December 5, 2014.
- J.P. Hoornstra (December 8, 2014). "Andrew Friedman on Ryan Lavarnway and multi-position threats.". Inside the Dodgers.
- Townsend, Mark (December 23, 2014). "Ryan Lavarnway joins fourth different team in December". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved December 24, 2014.
- Gurnick, Ken (December 19, 2014). "Cubs claim Lavarnway off waivers from Dodgers". MLB.com. Retrieved December 24, 2014.
- Muskat, Carrie (December 23, 2014). "Cubs add pitcher, lose two players via waivers". MLB.com. Retrieved February 21, 2015.
- Encina, Eduardo A. (December 23, 2014). "Orioles claim catcher Ryan Lavarnway, release outfielder Quintin Berry". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved December 24, 2014.
- Cwik, Chris (January 9, 2015). "Orioles catcher Ryan Lavarnway designated for assignment". CBS Sports. Retrieved January 9, 2015.
- "School of Roch: Orioles will add Lavarnway to opening day roster". MASNsports. April 5, 2015.
- "Orioles purchase catcher Ryan Lavarnway's contract, designate reliever Ryan Webb". Baltimore Sun. April 6, 2015.
- "Orioles recall Steve Clevenger, DFA Ryan Lavarnway". CBS Sports. May 26, 2015.
- Mark Brown (May 26, 2015). "Orioles recall Steve Clevenger, designate Ryan Lavarnway for assignment". Camden Chat.
- "Baltimore Orioles recall Steve Clevenger, designate Ryan Lavarnway". ESPN. May 26, 2015.
- "Orioles beat Rays 2–1 on Hardy's ninth-inning single". Comcast SportsNet Baltimore. May 29, 2015.
- Short, D.J. (May 30, 2015). "Braves sign Ryan Lavarnway to a minor league contract". nbcsports.com. Retrieved May 30, 2015.
- Fox Sports. "Braves demote Bethancourt to Triple-A Gwinnett, call up Lavarnway". FOX Sports.
- "Braves send struggling Bethancourt to Triple-A". ajc.com.
- "Atlanta Braves' moves include demotion of Bethancourt to Gwinnett". Gwinnett Daily Post.
- Falkoff, Robert (May 15, 2016). "Braves release Minors catcher Lavarnway". MLB.com. Retrieved May 15, 2016.
- "Toronto Blue Jays Transactions in May". MLB.com. Retrieved May 27, 2016.
- Todd, Jeff (May 27, 2016). "Minor MLB Transactions: 5/27/16". mlbtraderumors.com. Retrieved May 27, 2016.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ryan Lavarnway.|