Matt Kemp Matt Kemp Matt Kemp Matt Kemp…. That’s pretty much what the collective voices of San Diego Padres fans have sounded like over the past few days. Anytime a franchise that has been starving for offensive talent for years can acquire a player of Kemp’s status and ability, that type of reaction is to be expected.
With that said, somewhat lost in the Kemp excitement has been catcher Tim Federowicz, you know… the other player the Padres acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers along with Kemp.
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Padres fans have made it very clear that they know exactly who Kemp is, who he’s dated, where he lives, and what he brings to the table — as he, and all of the aforementioned information has been dissected ad nauseum over the past couple of weeks.
Again, understandable. But, who exactly is Tim Federowicz?
Federowicz, who played his college ball at the University of North Carolina, was drafted in 2008 in the 7th round by the Boston Red Sox. He would quickly show why he was named an All-American his freshman year in college, when in 2009 he hit .355 with 10 home runs in just 55 games with the Greenville Drive — Boston’s Class-A affiliate.
Federowicz would soon transition to High-A, and eventually to Double-A ball in 2011. In his first taste in Double-A, Federowicz hit .277 with eight home runs in 338 at-bats with the Portland Sea Dogs. Already having Jason Varitek and Jarrod Saltalamacchia on the Red Sox Major League roster, Ferderwicz was deemed expendable and used by the Red Sox to acquire pitcher Eric Bedard in a three-team deal that would land Federowicz with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Immediately shipped to the Albuquerque Isotopes, the Dodgers Triple-A affiliate, Ferderwicz showed no signs of being over-matched at the plate in his first taste of the Minor Leagues highest level — as Federowicz would hit .325, with seven home runs, and a .431 on-base percentage in 83 Triple-A at bats in 2011.
Federowicz would prove his success in Albuquerque was sustainable, as he has combined to hit .320, with 39 home runs, 166 RBI’s and a .394 on-base percentage in four seasons (including the aforementioned 2011 season) with the Isotopes.
Yes, the Isotopes play in the very hitter friendly Pacific-Coast League, so like every other hitter in the PCL his numbers were a bit inflated. That said, the fact that he also hit well in both the Carolina and East Coast leagues prior to his run in Albuquerque, says to me that the numbers weren’t 100% fluky, and that he has some potential with the bat in his hand.
I know at this point you’re probably thinking, “Well if he’s so good why wasn’t he given a shot to start for the Dodgers, and why would they trade Kemp for catcher Yasmani Grandal?”
Honestly, that’s a good question.
Defensively, an early scouting report labeled Federowicz as above-average, with a plus arm. After winning Minor-League defensive player of the month three times while with the Boston Red Sox organization, Frederowicz would go on to throw out 179 would-be base stealers, while allowing 322 total steals in his Minor-League career — compiling a %36 caught stealing percentage.
To put that into perspective, his rate of 36% in the caught stealing department during that span, would have been second behind only Brian McCann for the lead in all of baseball in 2014. Not only that, his 98% clip in the fielding percentage department during that same time span would have slotted him among baseball’s elite last season as well.
Again, I’m sure you’re asking, if he rakes in the Minors and he’s that good defensively behind the plate, what’s the issue?
Well unfortunatley, Federowicz hasn’t been able to translate his offensive success to the majors, as he has hit only .194 with 5 home runs in 247 Major League at-bats. Now, 247 at-bats is nowhere near enough of a sample to gauge the true value of a player, but I would have to think that has played a part in his lack of opportunity at the big league level.
Defensively, however, he has thrown out 23 would-be base stealers, while allowing 40 total steals at the Major League level, for a %37 caught stealing percentage — not to mention a fielding percentage of .985%
What that says to me is, at the very least the Padres have someone who they could count on defensively, especially in the caught stealing department. That is a good thing as the Padres 40 stolen bases against were the sixth most in the Majors last season.
As, far as the hitting, the jury is still out, but there has been enough evidence shown throughout his minor league numbers that suggest to me that he can, at the least, be serviceable at the plate for the Friars.
Because the trade has yet to become official, we have yet to get an idea as to the front offices thoughts or plans on and for Federowicz. With that said, given the fact that Grandal is gone coupled with the strong possibility of Austin Hedges needing more seasoning at the minor league level — Federowicz could very well enter the 2015 as the Padres back up catcher.
That scenario would earn him more playing time at the big league level than he has ever had to work with, all while giving the Friar faithful a true idea of what exactly the team has in Federowicz.
What he is capable of doing with the opportunity remains to be seen, but Padres fans should know that the potential for productivity is there with Federowicz.
Nicknamed “Fed-X” — I for one am anxious to see if the 27-year-old new Padres catcher can deliver.
Welcome to San Diego Tim!