Pittsburgh Pirates catching prospect Abrahan Gutierrez has done well this season while staying in the shadows of Endy Rodriguez and Henry Davis
The Pittsburgh Pirates have two of the best catching prospects in baseball. Endy Rodriguez and Henry Davis both are among the best minor leagues in the sport. Davis has just made his major league debut, and Endy might not be too far behind. But right behind these two major pillars is a third, mostly underrated catching prospect who is doing well, and that’s Abrahan Gutierrez.
Gutierrez was acquired by the Pirates around the 2021 trade deadline. The Pirates only sent left-handed pitching minor league reliever Braeden Ogle to the Philadelphia Phillies. Gutierrez has consistently posted above average numbers since coming to the Bucs.
He’s a .266/.369/.431 batter with a .369 wOBA, and 121 wRC+. Gutierrez has been praised for his patience at the plate, and has a 12.2% walk rate, 22.1% strikeout rate. While he’s not known for his power, his .165 isolated slugging percentage is respectable.
Gutierrez opened this season at High-A Greensboro, but is now at Double-A Altoona. He only has 121 plate appearances on the season, as he missed a decent chunk of May, but when he has played, he’s done great with the bat.
Gutierrez is slashing .278/.355/.472 with a .376 wOBA, and 126 wRC+. Gutierrez’s 14.9% strikeout rate is over a 10% decrease from 2022 (10.5% decrease, to be specific). Plus he still has a strong 9.1% walk rate. His power has also been on display, with a .192 isolated slugging percentage, four home runs, and nine doubles.
While Gutierrez has consistently hit well, he’s displayed plus defensive ability behind the dish. FanGraphs projects him as a 60-grade defensive catcher. He moves his hands well behind the dish, able to frame pitches, with FanGraphs describing his receiving skills as “crafty” and “advanced”.
Gutierrez has done well at Double-A, albeit in only eight games. If and when Rodriguez eventually gets promoted, Gutierrez will likely get moved to Triple-A. If he hadn’t just gotten to Altoona, he may have gone straight to Indianapolis after the Pirates brought Davis up. The Pirates probably want him to get regular reps behind the dish, as well as Endy also getting plenty of catching done, so keeping him at Altoona is fine for now.
It’s a good problem to have too many good catching prospects. Gutierrez could be a surprise contributor in 2024, or a decent trade chip, depending on how the Pirates view Gutierrez, and how confident they are in Davis and Rodriguez sharing the catching position. Having depth at catcher is always important, though they probably would rather trade Gutierrez than to keep him in a 2nd/3rd catcher role.
Still, Gutierrez has done well this year, as well as throughout his minor league career with the Pirates. He’s one of the Bucs’ least talked about prospects, given he plays the same position(s) as two of the Pirates’ best minor leaguers. It will be interesting how the Pirates utilize and view Gutierrez moving forward.