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Pirates Plan to Get Connor Joe Reps Behind the Plate in Fall League

Jonathan Mayo had a an article from a few days ago in which he mentioned that the Pittsburgh Pirates plan to use Connor Joe in the outfielder during the rest of this season, then get him work behind the plate in the Fall Instructional League.

The Pirates took Joe with the 39th overall pick in the draft this year and signed him ten days ago. He has been assigned to the Jamestown roster and hasn’t played his first game yet. During the draft, Joe was announced as a right fielder, but he has more value as a catcher, where his bat is more suitable.

The move by the Pirates to use him in the outfielder didn’t make much sense at first. It’s a position of strength in the system and his bat doesn’t play well for a corner outfield spot. He projects to be a solid average hitter, who should hit a lot of doubles. Defensively behind the plate, he is considered a bit raw, though he does have a strong arm and quick release. So he is a project at the catcher spot, but isn’t someone that needs to be rushed through the system, especially if it ends up being as a right fielder.

Joe can also play some first base, another position where his bat may not be good enough to give him high value as an everyday player. No plans have been announced to get him playing time there yet. If he gets good enough behind the plate, they may have a versatile player that can get into the lineup at three different positions

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John Dreker

John was born in Kearny, NJ, hometown of the 2B for the Pirates 1909 World Championship team, Dots Miller. In fact they have some of the same relatives in common, so it was only natural for him to become a lifelong Pirates fan. Before joining Pirates Prospects in July 2010, John had written numerous articles on the history of baseball while also releasing his own book and co-authoring another on the history of the game. He writes a weekly article on Pirates history for the site, has already interviewed many of the current minor leaguers with many more on the way and follows the foreign minor league teams very closely for the site. John also provides in person game reports of the West Virginia Power and Altoona Curve.

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  • Matt Beam

    Developing Catchers like the Pats developing QB’s behind Brady the last 10 years, best case – you have a good back-up in case of injury and then trade them for 1st round picks. Pirates should develop as many good catchers as possible as their trade value is only rivaled/exceeded by SP’s

  • ElGaupo77

    Didn’t they announce Jacoby Jones as an OF as well?

  • piraddict

    Thanks John!

  • bucsws2014

    This brings up a question I’ve often wondered about… every pitcher in the minors is chasing a dream. Do they have slower progress through the system if they’re consistently pitching to below-average catchers in live games?

    I had no issues with trading Morris for the 39th pick. But the actual 39th pick is still making me scratch my head.

    • Lee Young

      I’m thinking more and more it was to get the $$$$, take a below slot player, and use that money elsewhere.

      • bucsws2014

        I don’t disagree, but even with that, wasn’t there a better choice than a doubles-hitting corner OF/1b/so-so catcher?

        • John Dreker

          I think Joe was the sixth best player they took in the draft, so the pick and the bonus amount both seem odd. The Pirates talked about age vs development stage with the pick of Tucker and Gushue, but Joe is actually 13 months older than 3rd round pick Jordan Luplow, making him on the old side for a college junior. Luplow is just as good a hitter and he got a $500k bonus. When they announced Joe as a right fielder, that also had people wondering why they took him, but as a catcher, it makes a tiny bit more sense. Of course, they also took two other catchers in the top ten rounds, so….

      • Will Sanchez

        but at the end…they only saved “PENNIES”

    • Timothy Wolfe


  • R Edwards

    First of all, it makes this decision on the pick a lot less painful, if Joe is made a catcher – as opposed to an outfielder. But even at catcher, what is his future in the system going to be? We have Sanchez for the near future – and Diaz and McGuire for the longer term. If they picked someone a middle infielder, third baseman, or first baseman – it would have made a lot more sense. And there were very good ones available when we picked Joe.

    Now Joe could turn out to be a very good major leaguer, but the odds are better that he won’t.

    As I have said before, it wasn’t so much that they picked Joe at #39 – it was that we traded Morris to make that pick. BTW, at last glance, Morris has a 0.00 ERA in 15 innings with the Marlins, and with 15 Ks. Now, that is still only about 1/4 season of work for a reliever, but we will see how he does throughout the season.

    • bucsws2014

      I’m chalking up Morris to “change of scenery”. It could well be that he didn’t respond well to the pressure of needing to succeed. A lot of expectations due to both being the last piece of the Bay trade and the Bucs being contenders. He was definitely the weak link in the BP for as long as the Bucs have been a serious playoff contender. No such pressure in Miami. Let’s see how he does when they’re back in contention in a year or two.

      • R Edwards

        I disagree that Morris was the weakest link. Last year, for the most part, he was pretty solid – and IMO much better than say Gomez. This year, as shaky as he was early on – before they threw him away for a pick – he was still better than Gomez, Grilli, or Wilson.

        • bucsws2014

          I can’t tell if you’re just reading stat lines or actually watching games. When Gomez got tagged last year, it was often in laughers where the other team was already teeing off on everyone. Morris was single-handedly losing key games that were close. This year he had a 14K/12BB line. He was given the ball with the lead a mere 13 times and blew 3 of those games. That’s not good by any measure.

          And this week he was more typical Morris for Miami. Three appearances, let in three inherited runners.

          I’ll give you Wilson has not pitched well much of this year. But only one blown lead. Most of his damage has occurred when the team was already behind or comfortably ahead.

          Grilli’s been oft-injured, he’s old and the Bucs just did the appropriate thing with him.

  • Timothy Wolfe

    average bat- raw behind the plate at a position we don’t need. why did we draft this guy again?

    • John Dreker

      They really trust their scouts I guess. I was hearing 3rd-5th round for Joe. Someone that I shared a lot of draft info with really liked him and thought he could possibly go second round. It was the same for Tucker though, a large majority thought he was 2nd-3rd round talent, but a few people saw much better, a few saw a little worse. I think the bigger problem is the bonus they paid him. I fully expected his pick to clear room for Gage Hinsz and that doesn’t look like it will happen because Hinsz seems to want more.

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