With the top two teams in the minors on their All-Star break now, the highlights from Altoona and Indianapolis will be light for the next few days. Yesterday, we focused on some GCL players, including first round pick Cole Tucker. Today, we take a look at some catchers in the system, with two clips from Tony Sanchez, who has been on a recent hot streak. The other catcher is near the bottom of the minor league ladder, but interesting in his own right. More on him below.
Sanchez was in a slump until he broke out the other day with a three-run homer. In his last five games, he has eight hits, three doubles, a homer, six RBIs and three walks. In July, Sanchez is hitting .349 with a 1.032 OPS. Below is a video of him hitting an RBI single.
Here is Sanchez hitting an RBI double, coming up a few feet shy of a homer.
Yoel Gonzalez signed with the Pirates for $350,000 in 2012. It was the third highest bonus during the 2012 international signing period that year. Gonzalez is very interesting because he is the youngest player on the GCL Pirates roster. He turns 18 on August 1st. Gonzalez was described as a strong defensive catcher, who was a little raw at the plate. That showed last year when he hit .188 as the primary catcher for the DSL Pirates. This year, he is hitting well early and getting the bulk of the playing time. Gonzalez has a .271 average in 15 games.
Due to his age, he probably won’t hit for much power for at least the next couple years, especially if he keeps moving up a level each year. That would keep him among the youngest players in the league and catchers usually develop at the plate slower than other position players. His defense should keep him on a steady path towards the Majors and if the bat comes around, he could eventually be a strong overall catcher for the Pirates.
Gonzalez is in the GCL, but he isn’t the end of the catching prospects in the Pirates system. On Sunday we took a look at DSL catcher Mikell Granberry, who is hitting well recently and improving on defense. After him, the Pirates also signed two young international catchers recently, Roberto Noguera and Gabriel Brito, who required a $200k bonus to sign. From Tony Sanchez to Gonzalez, the Pirates are loaded with catchers in their system. With Elias Diaz at Altoona, Jin-De Jhang at Bradenton, Reese McGuire at West Virginia, and Jamestown with 2014 draft picks Taylor Gushue and Kevin Krause, it shows the Pirates have great depth behind the plate from top to bottom.
Below are a couple short videos of Gonzalez, the first look we get at him. Both are courtesy of the GCL Pirates fan page.
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.