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J.T. Realmuto

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Jacob Tyler Realmuto

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Biographical Information[edit]

Catcher J.T. Realmuto was a third round selection by the Florida Marlins out of a high school in Oklahoma in the 2010 amateur draft. A star quarterback in high school, he was signed by scout Steve Taylor for $600,000 and made his professional debut that same year with the GCL Marlins, hitting .175 in 12 games. In 2011, he was with the Greensboro Grasshoppers of the South Atlantic League, where he hit .287 in 96 games, with 16 doubles and 12 homers.

Moving to the Jupiter Hammerheads of the Florida State League in 2012, J.T. was named a circuit All-Star after hitting .256 in 123 games, with 16 doubles and 8 homers. He scored 63 runs and collected 114 hits. In 2013, he moved up to the Jacksonville Suns of the AA Southern League where he played 106 games and hit .239 with 21 doubles and 5 homers. He was again named to the All-Star team, but more on the strength of his steady defensive work than on account of his bat. he was back at Jacksonville to start the 2014 season and took a big step forward: after 46 games, he was hitting .301 and had already matched his previous season's home run total.

Realmuto was called up to the now-renamed Miami Marlins on June 5, 2014, when starting catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia was placed on the seven-day concussion list. He got the start behind the plate on his first day in the big leagues and made it a memorable occasion as he had 2 hits and 3 RBI in leading the Marlins to an 11-6 win over the Tampa Bay Rays that gave Miami a tie for first place in the NL East. He played 11 games for Miami that year, going 7 for 29 (.241). He hit his first career home run on May 18, 2015, a two-run shot off Rubby De La Rosa of the Arizona Diamondbacks in Dan Jennings' first game as the team's manager. He had won the starting job from Saltalamacchia earlier that season, and continued to performa well over the next ffew months. On August 12th, he had a career day when he drove in 6 runs in a 14-6 win over the Boston Red Sox; five of the RBIs came in a 10-run 6th inning that tied a franchise record. He hit his first career grand slam that inning, off Robbie Ross. He also hit his 6th triple in that game, the most by a rookie catcher since Carlton Fisk had hit 9 for the 1972 Boston Red Sox.

On July 3, 2016, he secured a unique distinction for himself when he hit a home run off Tyrell Jenkins of the Atlanta Braves to lead off the 9th inning in a 5-2 win. The game was the only one ever played at temporary Fort Bragg Field, in Fort Bragg, NC, and as his long ball was the only one hit that day, it is the only major league home run ever hit in the state of North Carolina. He had an excellent season, hitting .303 in 137 games, with 11 homers and 48 RBIs. He followed that with another solid season in 2017, when he played 141 games and hit .278 with 17 homers and 65 RBIs. That gave him an OPS+ of 111 in 2016 and 109 in 2017 and made him one of the best young catchers in all of baseball.

Following the 2017 season and the Marlins' trade of three of their highest-profile players - Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon - in what most observers described as a fire sale, J.T. expressed his dismay, saying that he wanted to be traded as well if the Marlins were only interested in accumulating prospects. Such a trade was unlikely to happen, however, as Realmuto's salary was still under control given he would not be eligible for free agency for a few years yet. He stayed with the Marlins for the entire 2018 season and if anything, only enhanced his value by making the All-Star team for the first time and winning the Silver Slugger Award as the best-hitting catcher in the National League. He hit .277 with 21 homers and 74 RBIs in 125 games as the best player on a team going nowhere. As soon as the season ended, the trade rumors started anew and lasted most of the off-season until they finally came to fruition on February 7, 2019, when he was sent to the Philadelphia Phillies in return for three young players: C Jorge Alfaro and Ps Sixto Sanchez and Will Stewart. The Marlins also received $250,000 in international bonus slot money.

Realmuto cemented his reputation as the best catcher in the National League in his first two seasons in Philadelphia. In 2019, he made the All-Star team, won both a Gold Glove - his first - and a Silver Slugger Award and finished 14th in the MVP voting. He hit .275 in 145 games, scored 92 runs, slugged 36 doubles and 25 homers and drove in 83 runs. The Phillies really couldn't have asked for anything more, but in spite of his excellent season, they remained mired at the .500 mark, out of postseason contention. That cost manager Gabe Kapler his job, but in 2020 they could not take the next step forward in spite of high expectations, again missing out on the postseason. For his part, J.T. had another solid year, hitting .266 in 47 games - the season was shortened to 60 games by the Coronavirus pandemic - with 6 doubles, 11 homers and 32 RBIs. His OPS+ was a sparkling 123, even better than the 109 he had put up in his first season in the city of brotherly love. However he became a free agent after the season, and as the best catcher on the market, he was expected to fetch some big figures. The Phillies still pursued him though, and on January 26th they came out on top when they re-signed him for five years at $115.5 million.

Soon after their big investment, the Phillies got some bad news as Realmuto fractured his right thumb while trying to block a ball in the dirt on the second day of spring training, February 18, 2021. He had to have it immobilized in a hard cast, but was still hopeful to be ready for opening day. He did make it for the team's first game on April 1st and went on to have his third All-Star season, batting .263 in 134 games with 17 homers and 73 RBIs. Alas, the Phillies missed the postseason once again. In 2022, he became just the second catcher in the National or American league to have a 20-20 season - i.e. to steal 20 bases while hitting 20 homers - after Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez. He reached the milestone by stealing three bases in a 5-1 win over the Washington Nationals on September 30th, giving 21 for the season; he had already hit 21 homers by that point. He hit .276 in 139 games that season, with 22 homers and 84 RBIs, for an OPS+ of 131. he finished 7th in the voting for the MVP Award and won both a Silver Slugger Award - his third - and a Gold Glove - his second. The Phillies made it to the postseason allowing him to finally make his postseason debut. The Phils made it all the way to the World Series, which they lost in six games to the Houston Astros and he was 14 for 65 (.215) in total, with 11 runs, 3 homers and 6 RBIs.

On June 12, 2023, he became the first Phillies player in almost two decades to hit for the cycle, achieving the feat in a 9-8 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was the 9th player in franchise history to do so, and the first since David Bell in 2004.

Notable Achievements[edit]

Further Reading[edit]

  • Joe Frisaro: "Will Marlins trade or keep Realmuto? Miami intends to retain catcher, but will listen to offers",, December 18, 2017. [1]
  • Gabe Lacques: "J.T. Realmuto emerges as rock among Phillies' stars: 'His toughness is already legendary'", USA Today, June 19, 2019. [2]
  • Mike Petriello: "A case for Realmuto as MLB's best catcher: Leads catchers in pop time, caught stealing, wRC+ and WAR",, June 20, 2018. [3]
  • Mike Petriello: "Why Realmuto is even more valuable than you think: MLB catchers just had 4th-weakest hitting line in past 100 years",, October 31, 2018. [4]
  • Todd Zolecki: "J.T. back to Phillies on 5-year deal (source)",, January 26, 2021. [5]
  • Todd Zolecki: "Realmuto makes history with 20-20 season",, September 30, 2022. [6]
  • Todd Zolecki: "Realmuto has big fan in Hall of Fame catcher",, February 5, 2023. [7]
  • Todd Zolecki: "Realmuto becomes 1st Phillies player to cycle since 2004",, June 13, 2023. [8]

Related Sites[edit]