Pirates Prospects Daily: Looking At The Catching Depth At The Lower Levels

The upper levels of the minors is going to be a very crowded place this upcoming season for the Pirates, especially at the catcher position. When the front office decided to put a huge emphasis on adding depth behind the plate, it grouped a good chunk of their top catching prospects at the same level.

Endy Rodriguez made it to Triple-A, where he will start again in 2023 while he waits for a major league call up. Henry Davis could start there with him again after being the first overall pick in 2021, he’s missed a lot of time due to injury, so starting in Altoona wouldn’t be out of the question — which would also make things easier when it comes to playing time. 

The Pirates will eventually have to figure out the best way to get them both in the lineup on a day-to-day basis, but can hold that off at least for a little while.

Several other names, including Jason Delay, Abrahan Gutierrez, Carter Bins and Eli Wilson all could be vying for playing time at the catcher position at either Altoona or Indianapolis.

A lot of options for such a few spots that are available.

When looking past the upper levels, there aren’t as many major league-type prospects around, but that doesn’t mean they can’t make an impact.

Wyatt Hendrie and Dylan Shockley are two of the best defensive catchers in the system, and with the crunch at Indianapolis and Altoona, depending on how things fall into place, possibly both could be in Greensboro to start the year. 

Neither are really big time hitters, but their ability to handle a pitching staff and defensive work would be a dream scenario when thinking about who may start the season in the Greensboro rotation.

This past season both threw out over 30% of the would-be base stealers, and Shockley didn’t surrender a passed ball in 183.2 innings behind the plate. Hendrie allowed 13 passed balls last year in Bradenton, the highest total in the system, but he has the advantage of having worked with each of the pitchers who would be moving up along with him.

The Grasshoppers could have an Opening Day rotation that consists of Anthony Solometo, Bubba Chandler, Carlos Jimenez, Po-Yu Chen and Valentin Linarez. Competitive Balance pick Thomas Harrington could also factor into the mix as well, leaving the door open for three of the team’s top 15 prospects (according to MLB Pipeline) to start the year in the Greensboro rotation.

That would be a very promising, but also an incredibly young pitching staff to be working with. Having two such highly regarded catchers potentially at their disposal, especially in Greensboro, could go a long way in their development.

Other Lower Level Catchers To Watch

All the action behind won’t be limited to the upper levels. Along with Hendrie and Shockley, there are a few other catchers to watch who will be playing in the lower levels in 2023.

Nick Cimillo was the team’s 16th round pick in 2022, and while there is some question to his ability to catch (four passed balls in 77.1 innings), he put up some interesting exit velocity numbers in his short time with Bradenton.

Geovanny Planchart threw out 42% of would-be base stealers in the DSL a few years back, but has been trending the wrong direction as he’s moved up the ladder. He started the year in Bradenton last year, but really struggled before being sent back to the FCL.

Won’t be able to watch him play, but there will be a lot of monitoring of Axiel Plaz after the numbers he put up last year at 16-years-old. He put up an 1.206 OPS in 32 games last year in the DSL, and while we are probably more than a year or so out from him hitting stateside, if he puts another strong year together he will come over with a good amount of hype to him.

Highlight of the Day

Pirates Prospects Daily

By Tim Williams

**Ethan Hullihen previewed the upcoming arbitration deadline.

**The playoffs began in Puerto Rico, while the regular season ended in Colombia. John Dreker has the latest Pirates winter league updates.

**The Pirates made some additions to their scouting department, reported on by John Dreker over the weekend.

Song of the Day

Pirates Prospects Weekly

Ethan Hullihen previewed an arbitration deadline coming up this Friday.

Pirates Business: Arbitration

I took a week off from P2Weekly last week, and will return with First Pitch today.

Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.

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.

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Catch_22

Thompson to the Jays.

Correa to the Twins – 6, 200M. What a sh*t show

Column Moran goes to Sea on a minor league deal

Last edited 28 days ago by Catch_22
1979andCounting

And he got a large AAV raise for all the hassle…..from $27 to $33M. Nod to Boras (again).

Catch_22

I’m not sure where to put this but…

Why is there no news on Jun-seok-Shim?

1979andCounting

I rolled my eyes at first. Then looked him up on other source. OK, totally changed my perspective due to his size (and arm) 6’4″, 215 lbs., only age 18.

NMR

Luis Heredia ruined me on these types. Man-children who are so much more physically advanced for their age that they just overwhelm the competition. Basically what happened with Alex Mojica.

Even removing the effort issues, Heredia was ultimately just a dude who physically developed earlier than his peers. There just wasn’t any projection remaining.

Catch_22

Dude seems legit.

AdministrativeSky236

I too am wondering where this info would be, certainly feels like something that would normally be jumped on here. So ill provide my nuanced take here: i like it

NMR

I bet Dreker is trying to get some dope from his team sources, he likes doing more than just regurgitating the twitter news or whatever.

FWIW, he speculated this guy to the Pirates last summer just based on connections and nailed it.

PirateRican21

Why are there any articles, period? Been spending more and more time on other sites when it used to be I spend none.

1979andCounting

Steady ad revenue can alter the drive??

Catch_22

I know, man…I know.

There’s nothing here on him and I’m not sure why. They’re generally all over stuff like this

AdministrativeSky236

Hank davis voted as the most overrated prospect per pipeline. I know their stuff can be click-baity but i feel like that one might be legit

NMR

Can you share a link?

AdministrativeSky236
NMR

Thanks buddy!

PirateRican21

And yet they have him rated higher than most. I sour on him this year, but is early, hopefully stuff like this motivates him.

justin

Any reasoning other than scouting the stat-line? He tore up Hi-A and got injured almost immediately in AA & did well in the AFL. 2023 will be big for him in determining his future.

Last edited 28 days ago by justin
NMR

Former 1.1 draft pick distinctly falling on the “solid everyday first baseman” side of the outcomes spectrum as opposed to “all star catcher” is gonna be leader in the clubhouse for overrated tags all day. Just comes with the territory.

Catch_22

I hate to say it, but it’s not looking good. I’m praying he breaks out this year.

John Dreker

It is a bit misleading because 21 different players received votes from a group that was maybe 100 people, and all 21 of those players are top prospects. Termarr Johnson got at least one vote too. It’s basically like saying I don’t think xx is a top 20 prospect, more like top 50

Catch_22

Or it could be that he’s an overrated prospect. He certainly does not look like someone that should’ve been drafted 1-1.

But, I guess, if Bubba and Solomento work out, it’s worth it.

emjayinTN

Not sure the Pirates have any plans for Hendrie and Shockley beyond possibly AA. They are strong defensively, and I wondered about the 13 PB’s by Hendrie. Course, he caught 522 innings at A Ball and the lower minors are where passed balls are more plentiful.

NMR

Room for Squares still holds up, there I said it.

skliesen

Off topic, but Pirates related. Howard Reynolds of MLB Network just said Pirates are attempting to extend Reynolds so they can get a better return for him in a trade. He claimed a team will be more inclined to trade away top prospects if they have cost certainty for the 6 years Pirates offered him.

I agree with Reynolds to the point an extension makes him more valuable in a trade, but in reality it takes him off the trade market.

So in conclusion, Reynolds is wrong. As usual. What do you guys think?

Y2JGQ2

Given that the only reason Reynolds wants a trade is the Pirates unwillingness to pay him his value, you make a great point. Extending him solves the problem AND makes him tradable later if you deem it necessary. There really is no good reason NOT to extend Reynolds at a reasonable value.

NMR

Nah, it’s a trap.

The value to a team in any extension comes up front.

If you extend him at roughly market rates and decide you wanna trade him when the years get expensive, there’s no longer any excess value to trade. A team could just go out and freely sign a comparable free agent at comparable rates and save themselves from the prospect haul in a trade.

PirateRican21

Thank you, he is valuable e abuse he is cheap compared to what he’s gonna produce for the next 3 years.

emjayinTN

Are you talking about Harold Reynolds? Pretty sharp guy.

patrick_kelly

Sharp as a bowling ball

skliesen

Yes, Harold Reynolds. I’m sure he’s very intelligent, but not necessarily in this case.

SBRO

Was he suggesting the Pirates would extend him and trade him this offseason? Or extend him and trade him eventually? Because the latter is almost a certainty. The former is pretty unheard of outside of the NBA.

I also think this is made up because teams work out extensions post-trade all the time. A lot of times the team acquiring the star has had at least preliminary conversations with the player’s agent and has an idea as to whether the player would sign an extension with their club and what it would take to sign them long-term. Mookie Betts and Matt Olson come to mind. I just don’t think there are many GMs out there who trade for a guy hoping to sign him to an extension but not having done the due diligence to find out whether he’s inclined to sign and for how much. OK, maybe Colorado. Otherwise, this engineered short-cut feels like a solution in search of a problem that isn’t.

skliesen

He definitely was saying Pirates can get the return they want for him if they sign him to an extension first.

They also said Pirates would need to overpay him to sign to continue to play on a losing team. Matt V. backtracked after realizing this was “disrespectful” to their efforts to rebuild. To the point where he said “The Pirates are doing everything they can to build a winner.”

Neither one acknowledged Reynolds has zero leverage. And obviously neither one has any knowledge of their farm system.

As for your point that teams often make deals knowing if a player will sign an extension for a certain amount, I very much agree.

Anthony

They can accomplish both goals at the same time; extend him but front load the deal. This keeps him in Pittsburgh for as long as they want him and also makes him an attractive trade candidate as his FA years will be under contract at below market levels. If they get a breakout in the system, they have the option to trade him. If he keeps producing, they can keep him. And, if he underperforms, his contract will be easier to dump bc it was front loaded.

emjayinTN

I am for whatever the Pirates can get done, and keep Bryan Reynolds in Pittsburgh. Maybe Ben can watch MLB and understand the value of Reynolds to any team, and especially one like the Pirates.

Great trade by another GM to get this kid for a fading veteran. We would not pay him, which was the right move, but now Reynolds is an All Star caliber CF on his way UP and we won’t pay him either.

So, we are officially the developmental team for the rest of MLB?

skliesen

Makes sense since they don’t have much in the way of guaranteed salaries in the next few years.

Catch_22

Agree. This doesn’t make much sense. Why wouldn’t the team he is traded to just simply sign him to an extension?

Catch_22

I believe it’s Harold.

Howard is related to Edney.

skliesen

My fault for not editing my post. It’s definitely Harold.

TNBucs

I like Harold Reynolds but, as you suggest, he’s not a reliable source for inside information. The only way this would make sense is if the extension came with a limited no-trade clause so that Reynolds would also gain some control in where he went. Otherwise, why not just stick with the trade request and then decide if his new city is where he wants to be? There’s little doubt that the Pirates would move him sometime in the next year (though I think the Pirates should just hang on to him until he hits FA–treat the 6+ yoc that they care so much about as a true 6+ yoc).

CTBucco

B.Reynolds might also be willing to sign the extension if it makes it more likely that he actually gets out of here (soon). Assuming that’s his main goal – along with getting paid and playing for a winner – then getting some assurance from the team that they will trade him after signing might get him to sign. It would give the Bucs a lot more leverage in the trade market.

skliesen

If I were Endy or Davis, I’d park myself next to Hedges every possible moment while in FL watching, listening, and learning at the feet of a master defensive Catcher.

TNBucs

And maybe they can return the favor with some tips on handling the bat 😉

skliesen

Yes!

Catch_22

I think the idea is that they can already hit. But, they need someone to work on the finer details and nuances of catching in the Show.

Think of it as Crash Davis to LaLoosh.

TNBucs

Right, my joke though was that they have the hitting down and maybe they can help Hedges do a bit more at the plate.

NMR

Anybody remember Hedges as a prospect a decade or so ago?

Absolute stud, torched AAA as a 22 yo. Immediately got his teeth shoved in by big league pitching. God this game is hard.

Catch_22

I got it

Catch_22

I think that’s a major reason of why they signed him.

SBRO

I see Endy, Bins and Delay at Indy
Davis and Gutierrez at Altoona
Davis moves up to Indy when Endy takes over in PIT
Hendrie and Wilson in GBO
Planchart and Cimillo at Bradenton
Shockley roving across A+/AA as needed

Catch_22

I wouldn’t assume it’s automatic that Davis moves up because Endy does. This isn’t linear, it’s developmental.

SBRO

The assumptions I’m making are that 1) they want to give both guys a starter’s load of innings behind the plate, and/but 2) Davis is going to make it to Pittsburgh on the strength of his bat, not his receiving, and the bat is already pretty advanced. If he played another position (and stayed healthy), I think he’d likely be seeing Indy this summer anyway.

Catch_22

Personally, I wouldn’t call a 97 wRC+ in AA an advanced bat. This is a big year for him…He needs to prove he can actually play his position and hit. Right now, those are big question marks.

Unless they move him off the position, I don’t think it would behoove them to rush him to Pittsburgh because of the bat. If he’s to remain behind this dish, he has lots of dev time left.

SBRO

That wRC+ was almost entirely driven by batting average, which was a product of an unsustainable .244 BABIP. His K rate wasn’t alarming, his rate of getting on base (OBA – AVG) and ISO were still comfortably above average, and he did all that recovering from a broken wrist (which might have contributed to the low BABIP). And he did put up good numbers in the AFL. He controlled the plate well (10 BB/11 K) and his OPS was 105 points above the league average.

And it’s not like he’s a spring chicken either – he turned 23 in September. If he can stay healthy, he’ll be in Indy this summer, no matter what he’s working on behind the dish.

PirateRican21

Davis in AA makes complete sense, the team promotes to the bigs from AA if needed and he hasn’t hit AA pitching all that great.

Catch_22

I concur. He needs to prove he can hit AA pitching, stay healthy and play the position competently.

He’s a way off, IMHO.

roberto

He also needs to show he can catch AA pitchers.

leefieux

Never a John Mayer fan. Kinda liked ‘Why, Georgia, Why’ but that was it.

Scam likely

Why wouldn’t Plaz be state side, this is why it’s take so long to move through the pirates system.

Wilbur Miller

I can’t imagine why not. It should just be a question of Bradenton or FCL.

John Dreker

He’s advanced defensively but I can’t see them sending a 17-year-old to full-season ball during his first year in the states. Part of that first year is just adjusting to a new country and the language difference. I asked about him in the late summer and the answer I got was basically that he’s still pretty raw all around. DSL hitting stats have become completely worthless to me, but his scouting reports were still really good, so he’s a legit prospect. Just not the monster hitter everyone is hoping for with those stats

Wilbur Miller

I’m actually a bit more curious about Miguel Sosa, since he’s older. Not sure they still see him as a catcher, though.

Scam likely

.Also why isn’t Edney starting off in pittsburgh ,oh yea because a guy who shouldn’t be manager said so.

ArkyWags

Sir, Tyus Edney is basketball player and this is a baseball site. I believe you are confused.

Catch_22

Scam likely suits you very well. Edney…give me a flipping break

Last edited 29 days ago by Catch_22
AdministrativeSky236

Pretty sure its a whole org decision not to have edney with the big league club

Catch_22

Guy is trolling. If the other 29 GMs were in the same situation, all 29 would have Edney in AA/AAA

Last edited 29 days ago by Catch_22
Scam likely

Speaking of org.when was the last time Ben has not finished in last place as a gm. In other words maybe the org. sucks at their jobs.

jeffw3000

I say Pirates will keep Endy down until June, because of Super two. He will come up then, and have a great season, and will lose the extra year, when he wins Rookie of the Year, or finishes 2nd in voting.

Zack

It feels like the organization is making a deliberate effort to do everything they can the set the high end pitching prospects up for success. Like you said, the strong catchers in High A could go a long way, and also Endy spending time with Priester, Burrows, and Ortiz in AAA could be huge.

Cleveland seems to do it right from a pitching development area. If the Pirates could emulate that organization and see strong results, it could make for some fun pitching staffs.

b mcferren

that 19 year Ford guy that the Mariners have looks pretty great

leefieux

And he makes great cars, too?

John Dreker

That would be ironic if someone named Ford made Chevys

bianco599

I always wanted a Pontiac Firebird but ended up with a used junker of a Grand Am. Just saw a Geo Tracker the other day. Anyone remember Geo Metros and Trackers? Or the Pontiac Fiero?

jeffw3000

The Firebirds of the 1970s, can go for 50-100K these days, if they are in good condition, low miles, and it contains the 400 or 455 v8.

bianco599

My uncle repaired a wrecked Grand Am so it was many a different colors too. Can honestly say no gal dated me at that time due to my wheels. Probably would have had a better shot just rolling up on a two person bike.

roberto

Hey, I drive a Vibe that my wife bought. What can I do to extinguish it’s coolness?

bianco599

Park it next to the car I drive. My wife’s old 2006 Kia Spectra 5 hatchback. Also have an old farm truck that has no heat or ac. Just vent so you ride the season. She drives the nice RAV4. But hey I did it for the love. And the safety of my kids.
PS: The Kia does have heat/ac. For now.

Last edited 29 days ago by bianco599

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