I’ve been meaning to post this minor news for the last few days, but kept putting it on the back burner. The Pirates signed minor league catcher Kawika Emsley-Pai to a minor league deal on Thursday. Emsley-Pai was drafted in the tenth round of the 2010 draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks, but was released in December. He hit for a .167/.265/.200 line in 90 at-bats in short season A-ball.
As Colin Dunlap points out, the Arizona front office was overhauled after the draft, which might have led to this decision. The scout who signed Emsley-Pai, Jim Dedrick, now works for the Pirates, and might have played a role in this signing. Emsley-Pai is likely to catch in West Virginia, although he had back issues last year, which should limit him to backup duties. Matt Skirving should make the jump from State College to West Virginia to handle most of the catching duties, and one of the GCL catchers (Elias Diaz, Dylan Child, Joey Schoenfeld) could make an aggressive jump, but for the most part the depth at the lower levels is thin. That was shown when the Pirates were using Pat Irvine as a backup catcher in 2010.
Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.
At a way veek. good luck this season