Pittsburgh Pirates: The Potential Next Top Catching Prospect
The Pittsburgh Pirates have struggled to develop quality catching prospects over the last few years. Is there a catcher in the minors who is developing into a potential Major League player?
Outside of Elias Diaz, the Pittsburgh Pirates have really struggled to produce quality catching prospects (of course Jin-De Jhang, but only if you think he can stick behind the plate at the next level). They have invested multiple top draft pick in catchers, and they have not seen any results from them. Tony Sanchez, the number four overall pick in 2009, has been floating from minor league system to minor league system since being cut by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Reese McGuire, the 2013 first round pick, was dealt to Toronto to help dump salary. Many were outraged at the time of the trade, but most fans are starting to understand that McGuire has not developed the way the Bucs had hoped. He projects to be a defensive minded backup catcher at this point.
There are also the catchers who had top five round picks invested into them. Wyatt Mathison, the 2012 second round pick, turned in a really solid season at High-A. The issue is that Mathisen is no longer a catcher. The Bucs felt he would be better served to play out in the field. Another high pick was used for Florida Gator Taylor Gushue. Gushue was a fourth-round pick in 2014, but he has hit only .231 with a .297 OBP in his time since being drafted. The Bucs traded him to the Washington Nationals this past fall.
On the Rise
In general, it seems the Pittsburgh Pirates weakness with scouting/developing talent is at the catcher position. However, there is one catcher who really stood out in the 2016 season. Kevin Krause was the second catcher taken in the 2014 draft. He was drafted in the ninth round and looked more likely to be Taylor Gushue’s backup coming up through the system. However, Krause posted solid numbers in 2014, and he found himself outperforming Gushue on both sides of the ball. Krause’s 2015 season was delayed due to some soreness in his arm. He never hit the field in 2015, and he ultimately required Tommy John surgery, something that is becoming more common with young catchers. Krause was not able to build on his strong pro debut.
More from Rum Bunter
- Pittsburgh Pirates Prospect Stockwatch: Outfielder Tres Gonzalez
- Pittsburgh Pirates Podcast: Rum Bunter Radio Talks Winter Meetings Fallout
- Pittsburgh Pirates: Potential Leadoff Hitters in 2023
- Pittsburgh Pirates: The Rotation is not being Improved
- Pittsburgh Pirates Make Vince Velasquez Signing Official
Krause came back about mid-season in 2016. The Stoney Brook product slowly transitioned back into the lineup and behind the plate. Early on, Krause found himself getting playing time in the outfield for the Morgantown Black Bears. One thing that the time off did not affect Krause was his ability at the plate. Krause picked up where he left off before his surgery, and actually ranked as the Pittsburgh Pirates 7th most efficient hitter in the minors.
Krause’s general stats do not pop off the page. He hit a solid, but not outstanding, .273 average with a .769 OPS, and only three homers. However, when looking at his analytics, there is a lot to like and suggest that he could be a solid big league hitter down the road. First and foremost, his OBP skills last season. Krause, who only struck out 26 times and walked 35 times, got on base at a clip of an even .400. In his career, Krause strikesout about 14 percent of at-bats, while walking 13 percent of the time. He also had solid wOBA of .376, which ranked third best on the team, while owning a BAbip of .304, suggesting that his offensive numbers are right where they should be.
Kevin Krause is a disciplined catcher who lays off of bad pitches, takes a walk when he is given the opportunity, and in general gets on base. He also seems to have at least average tools behind the plate, and is considered an above average pitch framer. Although he has only thrown out 15 percent of runners, he has not had a lot of opportunities to do so. Also, as he gains back trust and strength in his arm he should get back to league average. Coming out of the draft, scouts felt he had the tools to stick behind the plate. If he can continue to develop defensively and continue to show his disciplined plate approach, the Pittsburgh Pirates might have their next top catching prospect. Krause could start at Low-A West Virginia, but may get an aggressive push to High-A due to being a year behind after Tommy-John.