The Pirates' Real Problem at Catcher

Craig Toth

As everyone already knows the Pittsburgh Pirates new management team, led by new General Manager Ben Cherington chose to not tender an offer for arbitration to catcher, Elias Diaz. Everyone has also been made fully aware that Jacob Stallings is the only catcher currently on the Pirates’ 40-man roster. 

Now almost every column, blog, article, and group discussion that I am reading on social media is talking about the free agent catchers that are available to be the “stop gap”. There’s Robinson Chirinos, Jason Castro, Austin Romine, Russell Martin, Martin Maldonado and many others. Believe me, I know that this is important. Chris and I just talked about it on our latest episode of the Bucs in the Basement podcast. However this is not the biggest issue at the catcher position to me. 

There are so many guys out there that the Pirates won’t have trouble signing a serviceable veteran catcher to a short-term deal, probably for two or three years, to handle the catching duties along with Stallings. The biggest issue to me is who do we have behind those two guys? What does our future at the catcher position look like beyond those two or three years? Or, God forbid, what if one of those two catchers gets injured; what is the Pirates contingency plan? I can answer that last one quickly and concisely; they don’t have one yet. So just for “fun” let’s look at the catchers that the Pirates currently have in their farm system for the future, near and far. 

Indianapolis Indians (AAA)

Christian Kelly

11th round in the 2015 MLB Amateur Draft from California Polytechnic State University.

  • Minor League Career (5 seasons): .229/.311/.306 17HRs 152 RBIs
  • 2019 Season: Batting- .179/.251/.282 5HRs 21RBIs
  • Fielding: 6 errors, 3 passed balls, 57 SB/23 CS
  • Currently in Dominican Winter League

Altoona Curve (AA)

Jason Delay

4th round in the 2017 MLB Amateur Draft from Vanderbilt University

  • Minor League Career (3 Seasons): .237/.314/.340, 11 HRs 70 RBIs
  • 2019 Season: Batting-.234/.286/.398 8HRs 37 RBIs
  • Fielding: 3 errors, 8 passed balls, 54 SB/17CS
  • Played 10 games in the Arizona Fall League: .094/.216/.125 1 Double 1 RBI

Arden Pabst

12th round in the 2016 MLB Amateur Draft from Georgia Tech

  • Minor League Career (4 Seasons): .231/.281/.359, 18 HRs 90 RBIs
  • 2019 Season: Batting: .192/.232/.308 4HRs 23 RBIs
  • Fielding: 1 error, 7 passed balls, 37 SB/20 CS

Bradenton Marauders (A)

Raul Hernandez

International free agent 2014

  • Minor League Career (5 Seasons): .263/.312/.341, 4 HRs 92 RBIs
  • 2019 Season: Batting: .247/.296/.302 0HRs 19 RBIs
  • Fielding: 7 errors, 15 passed balls, 45 SB/19 CS

Deon Stafford 

5th round in the 2017 MLB Amateur Draft from St. Joseph’s University

  • Minor League Career (3 Seasons): .251/.320/.398, 21 HRs 109 RBIs
  • 2019 Season: Batting: .229/.318/.342 6HRs 32 RBIs
  • Fielding: 7 errors, 6 passed balls, 65 SB/14 CS

Greensboro Grasshoppers (Low A)

Grant Koch

5th Round in the 2018 MLB Amateur Draft from the University of Arkansas

  • Minor League Career (2 Seasons): .198/.282/.302, 10 HRs 45 RBIs
  • 2019 Season: Batting: .202/.273/.318 8HRs 34 RBIs
  • Fielding: 10 errors, 15 passed balls, 79 SB/ 17 CS

Zac Susi

12 Round of the 2018 Amateur Draft from the University of Connecticut

  • Minor League Career (2 Seasons): .207/.306/.278, 3HRs 27 RBIs
  • 2019 Season: Batting: .189/.280/.289 3HRs 18 RBIs
  • Fielding: 9 errors, 11 passed balls, 50 SB/14 CS

2019 Amateur Draft

  • Round 12: Kyle Wilkie-Clemson University
  • Round 16:Eli Wilson-University of Minnesota
  • Round 18: Will Simpson-Skyline High School

After looking at all the catchers currently in the Pirates' farm system, is there any of them that stick out to you? Probably not. The Pittsburgh Pirates haven't made the catcher position a priority and it shows. This needs to change immediately if there is any hope of catcher depth being a position of strength within the organization anytime in the near future. 

Follow Craig on Twitter: @BucsBasement

Comments (2)
No. 1-2
Craig Toth
Craig Toth

I hope this happens! A veteran catcher, Stallings and a AAA/near MLB ready catcher would work wonders for the organization.

Jacob15
Jacob15

That’s why they are rightfully targeting a catcher of the future type when looking into moving Marte.


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