Jacob Nottingham was once the Brewers catcher of the future, but after a few lackluster seasons in the minors, excitement waned.
When Manny Pina went down earlier this year with a knee injury, many people had questions regarding what Jacob Nottingham could bring to the table once being promoted. Since then, Nottingham has shown the Brewers the many different ways he can impact the game, but is it enough to say he has solidified a spot for 2021?
The biggest impact Nottingham has on a daily basis is his defense. Per Baseball Savant, the 25 year old rookie ranks in the 91st percentile in pitch framing. No matter who is on the mound, you can feel confident that Jacob Nottingham is going to help steal Brewers pitchers a few extra strike calls.
He also does a tremendous job behind the dish in terms of blocking pitches and has a strong throwing arm. During games, he has shown a super quick pop time and has the necessary tools to be a successful. His 29% caught stealing percentage in 2020 may not look all that impressive to the naked eye, but this percentage is based off of throwing out 2 baserunners in just 7 chances.
If you take a look at his track record of throwing base runners out in the minor leagues, it is quite impressive. At Biloxi in 2016 he threw out 42% of base stealers and 66% in 2017. At the Triple-A level in 2018 that percentage did decrease to 28% but with a significantly smaller sample size as well.
Offensively, Jacob Nottingham is doing damage with his hits and making lots of loud contact. His 19% barrel percentage so far in 2020 is outstanding and has resulted in a slugging percentage of .571. Of Nottingham’s seven hits, five have went for extra bases with one being a double and four home runs.
One knock on his offensive game throughout his baseball career has been a high strikeout percentage. Throughout his major league appearances his strikeout rate is 33.8%. This is fairly consistent if you dive into his minor league stats as well.
Is all of this enough to lock Jacob Nottingham into a Brewers roster spot for 2021 already?
One key factor for Jacob Nottingham entering the 2021 season on the Opening Day roster will be what the Brewers elect to do with Manny Pina. Pina will be entering his final year of arbitration and if he re-joins the Brewers it seems unlikely that the Brewers carry two right handed catchers next season with Omar Narvaez being an offensive oriented left handed hitting catcher.
However, Nottingham has provided a spark for this Brewers team in 2020, has a recent history of serving as Corbin Burnes‘ personal catcher, and at worst would serve as a backup defensive catcher for the club. All of these factors have certainly increased his stock tremendously.
The Brewers certainly face many interesting decisions regarding the catcher position this upcoming off-season but right now I think Jacob Nottingham has shown enough that the Brewers would feel confident having him as one of their catchers on their active roster in 2021.
There will be no shortage of options behind the plate for the Brewers the next couple of years, and if Nottingham can continue to improve, he can lock down a spot.