1. Tony Sanchez
2. Ramon Cabrera
3. Eric Fryer
4. Carlos Paulino
5. Samuel Gonzalez
Prospects By Likely Level
AAA: Eric Fryer
AA: Tony Sanchez, Ramon Cabrera
A+: Carlos Paulino, Elias Diaz
A: Samuel Gonzalez, Kawika Emsley-Pai
Lower: Jonathan Schwind, Ryan Hornback
B: Tony Sanchez
C+: Ramon Cabrera
C: Eric Fryer, Carlos Paulino
C-: Samuel Gonzalez, Elias Diaz
Profiles (Top 3 Prospects)
Tony Sanchez: Last season Sanchez struggled in AA but he remains in the opinion of most one of the Pirates top 10 overall prospects. He is the Pirates best hope of getting a strong 2-way catcher. The thought is that Sanchez was slowed last season because of the broken jaw he suffered the year before and the subsequent weight loss that followed. Sanchez is considered a strong defensive catcher and has been working on improving his game calling skills. On the offensive side Sanchez’s best tool is considered to be his power. Unfortunately last season Sanchez showed little in the terms of power or any offensive prowess for that matter. Over this past offseason Sanchez was able to regain most of the weight he lost because of his broken jaw and the Pirates are hoping this will vault him back to top prospect form.
Ramon Cabrera: Cabrera had a very strong showing in A+ last season, winning the league batting title. Under normal circumstance Cabrera should be moving up to AA as the starting catcher but due to Sanchez likely repeating the level Cabrera will probably be relegated to back up duty and DH duty. Cabrera’ s strength is that he can most definitely hit; he has shown the ability to post good averages and has even displayed decent plate discipline. The knock against Cabrera is that he isn’t strong defensively and that his small stature probably will lead to durability issues.
Eric Fryer: Fryer made a quick ascent to the majors last season while the Pirates were involved in catcher mania. He got a brief appearance in the majors but didn’t get much of a chance to show case himself. I get the feeling the Pirates are not too high on him and view him as nothing more than potentially a future utility player (he has seen time at C, 1B, 3B and the OF). Personally I am a little higher on Fryer than most and see him as a player who could turn into a very good major league backup and maybe even a serviceable starter. For this season Fryer will likely split time at catcher with Jose Morales in AAA at least until Sanchez proves himself worthy of playing in AAA. Once that happens Fryer may start to see time at other positions. for one hope he plays his way on to the major league roster and I believe there is a good chance for that to happen.
Summary: The Pirates have some intriguing catching prospects but in all reality most of them profile as nothing more than a backup or at the very most a marginal starter. The only real hope the Pirates have for a strong 2-way starting catcher is Tony Sanchez. Sanchez with a strong showing could arrive as early as September this season but some time next year seems more likely. The future of the catcher position for the Pirates is tied to Tony Sanchez. If he excels this season the immediate future at the position will be looking pretty good but if performs poorly the Pirates appear to have no other really solid starting option on the horizon. In short the future of this position is all on the shoulders of Sanchez. Best of luck to him this year.