Pittsburgh Pirates: Three Potential Catchers In The Draft

OMAHA, NEBRASKA - JUNE 29: CJ Rodriguez #5 of the Vanderbilt Commodores rounds the bases after hitting a second inning solo home run against the Mississippi St. Bulldogs during game two of the College World Series Championship at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha on June 28, 2021 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
OMAHA, NEBRASKA - JUNE 29: CJ Rodriguez #5 of the Vanderbilt Commodores rounds the bases after hitting a second inning solo home run against the Mississippi St. Bulldogs during game two of the College World Series Championship at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha on June 28, 2021 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /
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LOS ANGELES, CA – JUNE 07: Ako Thomas #4 of the Michigan Wolverines beats the throw to Noah Cardenas #25 of the UCLA Bruins to score a run on a single by Jesse Franklin #7 of the Michigan Wolverines in the second inning of game 1 of the NCAA Super Regional against the UCLA Bruins at Jackie Robinson Stadium on June 7, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA – JUNE 07: Ako Thomas #4 of the Michigan Wolverines beats the throw to Noah Cardenas #25 of the UCLA Bruins to score a run on a single by Jesse Franklin #7 of the Michigan Wolverines in the second inning of game 1 of the NCAA Super Regional against the UCLA Bruins at Jackie Robinson Stadium on June 7, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

Noah Cardenas

Noah Cardenas is UCLA’s backstop. Cardenas is mostly known as a defender. The right-handed batter has a 60-fielding and arm grade on MLB Pipeline. According to Pipeline, Cardenas has “outstanding agility” and “plus blocking and receiving skills”. He has also gotten a ton of praise for his strong arm which threw out about 50% of would-be base stealers in 2021.

Although Cardenas’ calling card is defense, he hasn’t been all that bad of a hitter in college. In 469 plate appearances, Cardenas has a .302/.407/.426 line with a .378 wOBA. He hasn’t hit for much power. Cardenas had just 8 home runs and 20 doubles throughout all of college. Plus his .124 isolated slugging percentage isn’t too awe-inspiring.

However, he has gotten on base a ton and makes a ton of contact. Cardenas has walked at a solid 9.6% rate. But his strikeout rate sits at just 14.1%. Cardenas’ stock fell some as he followed up his outstanding 2019 season with a so-so 2021 season. His OPS fell from .976 to .774. Overall, he only has a 45-hit tool and a 40-power tool.

Though his ability to get on base, make consistent contact, and pair that with well above average defense makes him an interesting pick. Cardenas does have a 6’1, 185-pound frame. The 22-year-old could add a little bit of bulk to help increase his power. The Pirates don’t want to be stuck in a Kevin Newman situation where they have a player who doesn’t make hard enough contact to get it out of the infield.

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