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South Side Hit Men

Chicago White Sox Catcher Development

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The White Sox have generally had solid catching (defense and offense) throughout the years, but have gone outside of the organization since Fisk was signed (A J, Grandal other examples). Brian Downing and Ron Karkovice were the best internal options during my near half century of fandom, Olivo and Flowers next level but both were traded and have less than a career 10 bWAR. Downing was traded young as well. 

Zack Collins and Yermin Mercedes are the two current catching prospects, but there is general consensus they aren't or will not be serviceable behind the plate, even as a solid back up option.

Catching takes the longest development time and effort of position players. I wasn't able to find much regarding catching specific development. Is there anyone who can point me to articles / sources regarding Sox staff dedicated to catching development, and/or is this an area the Sox can hire a solid staff hire to help develop / scout catchers?  Dedicating close to 20% of salary to catching is not a sustainable model with a mid-range payroll. Thanks in advance.

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1 hour ago, South Side Hit Men said:

The White Sox have generally had solid catching (defense and offense) throughout the years, but have gone outside of the organization since Fisk was signed (A J, Grandal other examples). Brian Downing and Ron Karkovice were the best internal options during my near half century of fandom, Olivo and Flowers next level but both were traded and have less than a career 10 bWAR. Downing was traded young as well. 

Zack Collins and Yermin Mercedes are the two current catching prospects, but there is general consensus they aren't or will not be serviceable behind the plate, even as a solid back up option.

Catching takes the longest development time and effort of position players. I wasn't able to find much regarding catching specific development. Is there anyone who can point me to articles / sources regarding Sox staff dedicated to catching development, and/or is this an area the Sox can hire a solid staff hire to help develop / scout catchers?  Dedicating close to 20% of salary to catching is not a sustainable model with a mid-range payroll. Thanks in advance.

 

Don’t we get some credit here for TA?


How many really good all-around catchers are there, in general?

Maybe five, seven tops.  It’s the most demanding physical position, and really good hitters at that spot like a Mauer, Posey or even Salvador Perez find themselves eventually at 1B/DH.

That said, the White Sox have had some high profile misses, like Kurt Brown and now Collins.

Before AJ, it seemed we went 10-15 years with a different FA catcher ever year or two.


Guess you can also add discovering Omar Narvaez to your list, as well.

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3 hours ago, Squirmin' for Yermin said:

Sign Tyler Flowers, trade Zach Collins.

I agree, if possible.

1 hour ago, caulfield12 said:

 

Don’t we get some credit here for TA?


How many really good all-around catchers are there, in general?

Maybe five, seven tops.  It’s the most demanding physical position, and really good hitters at that spot like a Mauer, Posey or even Salvador Perez find themselves eventually at 1B/DH.

That said, the White Sox have had some high profile misses, like Kurt Brown and now Collins.

Before AJ, it seemed we went 10-15 years with a different FA catcher ever year or two.


Guess you can also add discovering Omar Narvaez to your list, as well.

I agree, Top 5 catchers are not easy to find or develop. I thought about Narvaez, and he may bounce back offensively, but he was a rule five pick from TB, and he is really known for his bat.

I’m not expecting consistent team development of elite level catchers (Mauer / Posey), but rather a development program emphasizing catcher defensive/game calling at the minor league level, by catchers able to hit at minimum an acceptable .670-.700 OPS. Not looking at this from where the Sox stand now, but over the long term.

An example is a player like Roberto Perez who is a huge asset behind the plate who also has a reasonable contract, and is acceptable hitter (.666 OPS). It’s easier and cheaper obtaining higher offensive production at the other positions.  

Perhaps developing an ML capable average catcher like Olivo or Flowers once per decade is a reasonable expectation, but I feel this is an area the Sox can improve on in the development phase and pay huge dividends at the ML level.

I was trying to find articles or discussions regarding White Sox’ catcher development, and or have a discussion here on whether this could be a great area for the White Sox can hire a great coach / teacher / guru dedicated to developing catchers throughout the system.

Edited by South Side Hit Men

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2 hours ago, South Side Hit Men said:

I agree, if possible.

I agree, Top 5 catchers are not easy to find or develop. I thought about Narvaez, and he may bounce back offensively, but he was a rule five pick from TB, and he is really known for his bat.

I’m not expecting consistent team development of elite level catchers (Mauer / Posey), but rather a development program emphasizing catcher defensive/game calling at the minor league level, by catchers able to hit at minimum an acceptable .670-.700 OPS. Not looking at this from where the Sox stand now, but over the long term.

An example is a player like Roberto Perez who is a huge asset behind the plate who also has a reasonable contract, and is acceptable hitter (.666 OPS). It’s easier and cheaper obtaining higher offensive production at the other positions.  

Perhaps developing an ML capable average catcher like Olivo or Flowers once per decade is a reasonable expectation, but I feel this is an area the Sox can improve on in the development phase and pay huge dividends at the ML level.

I was trying to find articles or discussions regarding White Sox’ catcher development, and or have a discussion here on whether this could be a great area for the White Sox can hire a great coach / teacher / guru dedicated to developing catchers throughout the system.

https://www.nbcsports.com/chicago/white-sox/white-sox-havent-had-two-promising-catching-prospects-50s-so-whats-next
 

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Obviously a small 10 inning sample size, but I thought Collins looked perfectly fine last year. I’m not ruling him out as the backup at all.

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20 minutes ago, Chicago White Sox said:

Portillo’s claims Mathis is being considered.

How's the defense these days?

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6 minutes ago, manbearpuig said:

How's the defense these days?

Not sure but Statcast’s framing numbers didn’t look too hot

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30 minutes ago, Chicago White Sox said:

Portillo’s claims Mathis is being considered.

If the Sox sign Judge Mathis, it won’t be long before he puts La Russa behind bars.

Edited by Orlando
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5 hours ago, Orlando said:

If the Sox sign Judge Mathis, it won’t be long before he puts La Russa behind bars.

He’s a lot more lenient than Judge Judy or Judge Dredd.

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Development is probably behind like everything else in this organization, but drafting/scouting is the main cause here.  Catching is intricate, and it’s not really a position that’s easy to make average and protected like the OF.

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This is definitely something where the sox analytics/player dev is behind. They have not been very good at teaching guys to receive and on top of that omar narvaez was one of the worst framers and was turned into a plus framer after leaving the sox which is of course always a bad look.

Couple years ago framing and receiving seemed intrinsic but it seems some teams did learn to teach framing with use of modern tech and analytics (cubs too with Contreras) and others did not.

That definitely is something the sox need to get more modern and up to date with.

Edited by Dominikk85
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It is an older video but here you see Collins receiving. It doesn't look bad but it is pretty old school "stick" type of framing

 

Compared to that here is the modern way where you start the glove below/outside the target and then catch it on the move back towards the center of the zone

https://twitter.com/Elite_Catching/status/1163458821005684737?s=19

 

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Liked several comments / the discussion.

I’m hoping pitch framing becomes irrelevant as early as the new CBA in 2022, after an electronic automated strike zone is approved and implemented, even if it hurts the Sox (paying Grandal in part for pitch framing through 2023).

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Catching is definitely a big need organizational. I really hoped that Joey Bart fell to them a couple years ago and Patrick Bailey wouldn’t have been a bad pick at 11.

Always take the BPA but if I were running a team, I’d try to take a C in the first ten rounds every year in the draft if the player is right. 

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19 minutes ago, Joshua Strong said:

Catching is definitely a big need organizational. I really hoped that Joey Bart fell to them a couple years ago and Patrick Bailey wouldn’t have been a bad pick at 11.

Always take the BPA but if I were running a team, I’d try to take a C in the first ten rounds every year in the draft if the player is right. 

Or find a middle infielder with athletic ability and requisite arm strength (not TA, but Wilson Contreras) and see if a conversion works.  Generally, it has been easier to move those guys to pitcher over the last two decades.

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Since Drafting Collins in 2016:

White Sox Catcher Round 1-20  Draft Picks by Year + IFA signings:
2017: Round 7 (Evan Skoug 300K Bonus) +  Cheap (probably 10-15k) IFA Signing (Mendoza)
2018: Round 9 (Gunnar Troutwine 10K Bonus) Round 16 (Ty Green 75K) Round 19 (Gabriel Ortiz 50K) + 300k IFA signing (Pineda)
2019: Round 8 (Ivan Gonzalez 10K Bonus) Round 11 (Victor Torres, 175K Bonus)
2020: None

That's a total of 930K spent on amateur catchers since 2017.

There are some very good points above about some of the development issues in the system and that could be part of the thought process in investing the position at the amateur level. Draft what you develop well and let other organizations develop your catchers. 


 

 

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