Wyatt Mathisen picked up three hits in a rehab appearance in the GCL.

Wyatt Mathisen Moving to Third Base

Last week I reported that Jin-De Jhang would be moving up to Bradenton, solving the issue of having three catching prospects in West Virginia. That left Reese McGuire and Wyatt Mathisen as the catchers in West Virginia, with a possible time split that would favor McGuire.

When I talked with Mathisen at the end of mini-camp back in January about the possibility of switching positions, he said he was still expecting to be at catcher, and that he hadn’t been told by the team that he would be working at another position. That was still the case at the start of Spring Training, and he’s still listed as a catcher on the boards at Pirate City. However, Jake Seiner of MiLB.com is reporting that Mathisen will be making a move to third base this year in West Virginia to solve the log-jam at the catcher position.

I haven’t had a chance to confirm this report yet, and I’m not doubting Seiner’s information. However, the “full time” aspect of the move is interesting, since it raises other questions. Currently the Pirates are projected to have McGuire as the main catcher in West Virginia. Erich Weiss, who they signed out of college for an over-slot amount of $305,000 as an 11th rounder, was projected to get time at third base. If Mathisen moves to third base full time, that leaves no spot for Weiss.

It’s possible that Weiss could move to Bradenton, or down to Jamestown. He’s been working with the West Virginia team, so Bradenton seems unlikely. Also, that would raise the question of where Eric Wood ends up playing. Moving down to Jamestown would be disappointing, and wouldn’t tell much about his skills, since he’s coming out of college and got an over-slot bonus. That wouldn’t be much of a challenge.

Mathisen is athletic enough that he can play anywhere, and moving him to third base makes sense, as the Pirates have no good prospects there. Mathisen projects to be a good hitter with a strong arm, which is a good combo for third base. He played shortstop throughout high school, so the move to third should be easier. But if he’s moving full time, that raises questions about the fall out of this move. I can’t imagine the Pirates benching Weiss, since they gave him a big bonus. I can see him moving up, but that means Wood is the odd man out. That move would make a little more sense, as Wood struggled in West Virginia last year. Prior to this move, Weiss and Wood were the only promising third base prospects in the system, although neither were in our top 50.

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • Kevin_Young

    This seemed like a fairly obvious move.

  • http://@gwbicster gwbicster

    Does he have the bat to play 3B? His numbers so far have not shown a lot of pop.

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com/ Tim Williams

      He’s got power potential. Usually guys don’t show power this young in their careers.

  • http://@gwbicster gwbicster

    Weiss to 2B, the position he played in college?

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com/ Tim Williams

      That could be a possibility, since Fransoso and Landecker don’t project as top prospects. However, Weiss has been playing third base in camp, and that’s a more valuable position.

      Then again, Mathisen has been playing catcher so far.

      • http://@gwbicster gwbicster

        I would think 2B is a more valuable position than 3B, if he could handle it. In college, Weiss had a hideous sophomore season defensively at 2B, with something like an .880 (!!!!) fielding percentage.

        • SteveW

          No. Weiss played 3B his sophomore year, when he had the .880 pct. He also played 3B last year and raised his fielding pct to about .970. He also played mostly 3B as a freshman at Texas. Not sure where this 2B talk is coming from.

  • lfhlaw

    I’m surprised they didn’t move him(Mathisen) to 1B as well. Only because the depth there as well isn’t really that good either with exception of possibly Allie. Although, I would think you’d like to still get him playing time at Catcher. A Catcher with some kind of Power is always a bonus if he starts to develop power. Was he doing poorly as a Catcher and they felt McGuire is the real deal?

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com/ Tim Williams

      Third base is a more valuable position than first base. It’s much harder to get a third baseman.

      • duckwoes

        I thought Montilla would be the second basemen at WV

      • johndw28

        Obviously early but the Dickerson trade isn’t looking like a great one right now. We’ve heard how he wasn’t he answer but he doesn’t look to be any less of an answer than Lambo, Mcguiness or Ishikiwa and has put together a very nice Spring for the Padres.

    • freddylang

      Because Mathisen is too athletic to be a 1B…why would you move a kid that can play 3B or 2B to 1B. It would be different if Wyatt was 22 and at AA ball last year hitting .300 and showing 20HR power…then you would consider him at 1B because of immediate need.

  • Uncle Greg

    Just from a numbers standpoint, it makes perfect sense. Take a look at the organization depth chart, loader with catchers, very few third basemen. This doesn’t take into account who is considered a “prospect.” One would assume that at the lower levels all are considered prospects, just some with a little more money in there pockets. Remember, there have been many high draft picks that didn’t make it and many late round picks that have.

  • iChuck33

    Weiss will be going to WV, not sure how they’re going to work this out

  • freddylang

    Seeing that picture of Mathisen…he reminds me physically so much of a young Neil Walker it is eerie. Interesting they both got moved from catcher to 3B although Mathisen didn’t spend nearly as much time there. I don’t see last year as a wasted year for Wyatt either as I have heard mentioned in several places including BA. He had a terrible avg at low A but he still had decent plate discipline and didn’t strikeout at an extreme rate…then he hit well for a few weeks after he came back…overall he got 200 ABs as a 19 year old…considering many 19 year olds are still in short season 200 abs is decent experience. If he was a catcher the extra reps are valuable but the move to 3B makes that a moot point. 20 years old at low a is just fine if he starts hitting.

  • smurph

    I like the move. As for the 1B situation, a lot of us believe that Josh Bell is likely to be the Pirates future 1B.

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