As we approach the draft, the Pittsburgh Pirates could select the best catcher available, North Carolina State product Patrick Bailey.
One of the positions that the Pittsburgh Pirates have questions at for the long term is catcher. The team hasn’t had a player rank in the top 100 of all prospects since another former 1st round pick, Reese McGuire in 2016. However, in this upcoming draft, the Pittsburgh Pirates could have an opportunity to take a top ranking college catcher with their 7th overall pick.
Patrick Bailey is a 6-foot-2, 192 pound catcher from North Carolina State University. The switch hitter has put up really good batting numbers with NC State. From 2018 to 2020, the 21-year-old had a college slash line of .302/.411/.568. He also blasted 29 home runs across his 578 plate appearances. His lowest slugging percentage in a single season was a still strong .518 mark in 2019. He also walked at a high rate of 14.9%, while striking out only 16.1% of the time.
Currently, his hit tool grades out at around average. However, it’s no surprise that his power is considered above average seeing as he slugged .568 in college. In his last college season, Bailey hit .296/.466/.685 with 17 walks, 18 strikeouts, 6 home runs, and 3 doubles.
But you probably want to hear about his defense. After all, that is the big attraction for any catcher. Bailey is considered an above average receiver. He also has a pretty strong arm behind the plate which helps to control the base running game.
But there are a few red flags in Bailey’s game. Some scouts observed a bit more swing and miss when facing higher tier pitching. He also didn’t produce as well in a wood bat league with Team USA according to MLB.com.
In the future, Bailey could be a productive hitter at the plate. While I don’t think he’s going to be an elite level batter, I could still see him producing Kyle Schwarber-like numbers. In the past two years, the Cubs’ slugger has hit .247/.347/.503 with an impressive 64 long balls. This all accumulated into a 119 OPS+. A .250/.350/.500 hitter who hits about 25-30 home runs a year from the catching position is very good production. Combine that with the above average defensive skill, and you could be looking at what could be a top catcher in the league.
Right now, Bailey isn’t really projected to be selected so early. He is currently seen as the 17th best draft prospect by MLB Pipeline, and was currently predicted to be selected by the Chicago White Sox in the 11th selection by FanGraphs. However, Bailey is seen as the best catcher in this year’s draft. Catching is a position of need for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and selecting Bailey isn’t completely out of the question in order for the Pirates to add a power bat to the system, and a talented young catcher, two things the Pirates do need.