The Pittsburgh Pirates have purchased the contract of 26-year-old catcher Dwight Childs, who spent the 2013-14 seasons playing independent ball. Catching for the St. Paul Saints and the New Jersey Jackals in 2014, he hit .208/.270/.250 in 67 games. He spent the entire 2013 season with the Saints.
Childs was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 18th round in 2009 out of the University of Arizona. Over four seasons in the Indians’ system, he played a total of just 90 games, though he did fill in twice in AAA briefly. In his career, he has thrown out 32% of attempted base runners, including 47% during the 2014 season.
The New Jersey Jackals announced the deal on the Can-Am League website.
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.
Since 2014 ended, they have lost Russell Martin, Carlos Paulino, Ralph Henriquez, Nevin Ashley and Omir Santos and brought in Wilkin Castillo, Sebastian Valle, Francisco Cervelli and now Childs. That means they have one less catcher in the organization and Spring Training around the corner, when they will have a ton of pitchers in camp. I wouldn’t be surprised to see another catcher brought in. It’s possible that Childs doesn’t play a game. Last year the Pirates signed Mitch Slauter and Mike Spano, two undrafted players and neither played a game, but they were around until the end of Extended Spring Training, right about the time the Pirates drafted and signed three catchers.
So, if I were to take a stab at the catchers by level, we have:
MLB – Cervelli and Stewart
AAA – Sanchez, Diaz and Castillo
AA – Valle and either Jhang or Stallings
A+ – McGuire, Jhang/Stallings and Emsley-Pai
A – Gushue and Krause
A- – Gonzalez, Arribas and Garcia
R – Cerda, Dennis, Morales and Harvey
I suppose Sanchez may see more time at 1B or DH as his defense behind the plate has been below average the last few years. Valle will probably split time between AAA and AA. I wonder what will happen with Jhang as his defense looks good but his batting wasn’t great in Bradenton. I’d be surprised if they didn’t move McGuire to Bradenton to start.
It’s tough to put in guesses at the lower levels because some guys will be cut, some could be added before then. There will likely be three catchers for each of the four top level teams, though one of them might be on the phantom disabled list at times. Francisco Diaz is still in the organization, so he should be somewhere and Miguel Perez is still around, sort of, he’s more like a coach that can be used as an emergency catcher. Childs might catch somewhere and the Pirates haven’t ruled out Connor Joe catching.
I wouldn’t be surprised if McGuire started back at Low-A though, even if he didn’t spend a full year there. He’s still a teenager right now and his bat is behind his defense, so they may want to see him hit a little more, especially after how Jhang did with the jump in a level at a young age. So I wouldn’t be surprised to see Krause or Gushue go to Bradenton ahead of McGuire. They’re older and have the college experience.
Also, if I had to guess, I think Stallings goes to Altoona. Strong defense, but not much of a MLB shot, so he can backup there.