Carter Bins is one of the many catching prospects the Pittsburgh Pirates have acquired over the last few years, so what does he bring to the organization and what could his future hold?
The Pittsburgh Pirates’ most significant need going into this rebuild was catching. July 2021 was an active month for them to add catching talent to the system. The big catch was Henry Davis, who was taken 1/1 in the draft. Later in the draft, they also took another backstop, Wyatt Hendrie, to add more depth to the farm. Then at the trade deadline, they acquired Abrahan Gutierrez from the Philadelphia Phillies. During all of this, Endy Rodriguez was in the midst of a great season at Bradenton. But another trade they made at the deadline was acquiring Carter Bins in the Tyler Anderson trade, who is the prospect we will be looking at today.
Carter Bins was the Mariners’ 11th-round selection in 2019. Coming out of Fresno State, Bins was an athletic backstop who saw time in left field and first base and behind the dish. At the time of the acquisition, Bins had looked great at the Mariners’ High-A affiliate, posting an OPS above .900 in 185 plate appearances. He got off to a slow start at Double-A, but it was in less than 50 trips to the dish.
Bins didn’t do great for the Pirates’ Double-A affiliate either, but 2022 would be his first extended look as a professional ball player. But it could have gone a lot better for the power-hitting catcher. Bins slashed just .196/.285/.388 with a .299 wOBA, and 78 wRC+. Strikeouts were a massive issue in 2021, even during his time at High-A ball, but he struck out at a torrid pace last season. He clocked in with a 36.7% K-rate, the second-highest mark among any minor league catcher in 300+ PAs.
There were a lot of negatives to Bins’s season, so let’s take a more positive turn and look at what went right. Bins at least hit for decent power, posting a .192 isolated slugging percentage. He hit 11 round trippers while also racking up 17 doubles. Despite the strikeouts, he had a respectable 8.8% walk rate. He also put up decent numbers in the second half, slashing .228/.326/.456 with a .342 wOBA and 105 wRC+. This did come with a strikeout rate of 35.6%, but he walked at an 11.4% pace and hit five home runs in just 114 plate appearances.
Defensively, Bins is a decent backstop. He might not be a Gold Glove-caliber defender, but he’s reliable and will not cost a team runs with his defense. His best tool behind the plate is his arm, grading out with a 60-grade arm. He’s also received decent reviews for his athleticism.
But the strikeouts are highly concerning. There are almost no players who strike out as much as Bins has in the minor leagues and become a productive major league hitter. But catching is a position where offense is an afterthought. Austin Hedges will likely get the bulk of playing time for the Pirates next year after posting a 42 wRC+ and receiving the bulk of playing time behind the plate last year for the AL Central-leading Guardians.
If you were to give Bins an offensive ceiling, it would be post-2019 Gary Sanchez. Since the outset of the 2020 season, Sanchez has batted just .195/.287/.394. This has led to a 90 wRC+. Of the few positives, he’s had a .198 isolated slugging percentage and still averages over 20 home runs per 500 plate appearances.
An offensive floor could look something like 2019 Chris Davis. It’s a lazy comparison, but Davis struck out nearly 40% of the time, and Bins posted a strikeout rate above 35% last year. During that season, Davis batted just .179/.276/.326, but did have a respectable .146 isolated slugging percentage and hit a dozen home runs in just 352 plate appearances. But again, if Bins is a solid to above-average defensive catcher, even that might play a backup role.
Bins’ offensive value comes from the fact that he’ll run into one at a decent pace. He will also provide a few walks, but outside of that, he will strike out a ton and have little value outside of an average walk rate and 10-12 home runs. But defense behind the dish plays. His strong arm and defensive work could land him a spot as a secondary backstop.