Pittsburgh Pirates Promote Jacob Stallings To The Majors


As the June from hell rages on, on Sunday the Pittsburgh Pirates were forced to make yet another roster move when they promoted catcher Jacob Stallings from Triple-A Indianapolis.

On Sunday afternoon the already bad catching situation for the Pittsburgh Pirates got even worse. The Pirates were forced to promote Jacob Stallings from Triple-A Indianapolis due to Chris Stewart currently dealing with multiple injuries. This is Stallings first trip to the Major Leagues, so, for that, congrats Jacob!

The six-foot-five 220 pound Stallings was drafted by the Pirates in seventh round of the 2012 Major League Baseball Draft. Stallings turned 26 this past December, and is a right-handed hitter. To make room for Stallings on the roster, the Pirates optioned infielder Jason Rogers back to Triple-A Indianapolis.

Entering the season a strong argument could have been made that the Pittsburgh Pirates were the deepest team in all of baseball at the catcher position. However, that has changed in a hurry. Starting catcher Francisco Cervelli and Triple-A starting catcher and top ten prospect Elias Diaz both find themselves on the disabled list, and Cervelli’s backup, Chris Stewart, is not available right now due to various injuries. As a result the Pirates are forced to ride with the catching duo of Jacob Stallings and Erik Kratz that very well might be the worst in all of baseball.

When Francisco Cervelli was placed on the disabled list on June 10th I expected the Pirates to promote Jacob Stallings to backup Chris Stewart. Instead the Bucs traded for Erik Kratz. But, in my opinion, they should have just promoted Stallings then.  

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Regardless of what the Pirates did or did not do when Francisco Cervelli was injured, they are now stuck with two sub-par catchers on their roster. Jacob Stallings’ results at Triple-A leave a lot to be desired. On the season Stallings slashed just .199/.242./.340/.582 with a .263 wOBA, wRC+ of 61, and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 35:6. Stallings does have an ISO of .142, so when he has hit the ball he has hit it hard. Ultimately though, do not get your hopes up expecting Jacob Stallings, who has yet to prove he can even hit Triple-A pitching, to contribute to the offense much.

However, Jacob Stallings can’t possibly be as bad a hitter at the Major League level as Erik Kratz has been this season. Kratz is slashing .045/.067/.068/.135 this season to go along with a wOBA of .063 and a wRC+ of -70. Most remarkably, Kratz has somehow managed to strike out in 20 of his 44 at bats this season. So all Jacob Stallings has to do to be an offensive upgrade over Erik Kratz is actually put the ball in play.

One thing Jacob Stallings does that Erik Kratz does not however is play strong defense. For this reason alone, I felt the Pirates should have gone with Stallings over Kratz when Cervelli got injured. Indianapolis manager Dean Treanor has raved about the work Stallings has done behind the plate this season. Also, Treanor has been very outspoken about the job Jacob Stallings has done handling a very successful Indianapolis pitching staff.

It is unclear how long Jacob Stallings will be in the Major Leagues for as the Pirates are now carrying three catchers. My guess it will only be for a few days and he will return when Chris Stewart is available again. However, if Stewart has to go on the disabled list he will be up longer.

The Pittsburgh Pirates currently find themselves two games under .500 at 33-35 and three games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets for the second National League Wild Card spot. Further complicating things, their pitching staff can not get anyone out at all right and there are injuries galore. Now the Pirates have a catching tandem of Jacob Stallings and Erik Kratz, yikes. Hurry back Chris Stewart and, especially, Francisco Cervelli.