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.