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.
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— Anthony Murphy (@__Murphy88) July 1, 2022
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