The Pittsburgh Pirates have drafted catcher Brent Gibbs in the seventh round of the 2016 draft. Gibbs is a strong defensive catcher with a commitment to USC. Baseball America rated him the 194th best prospect in the draft (he was picked 225th overall), and said he has a plus-plus arm, along with good receiving and blocking skills. D1Baseball had the following report on him from last year (subscription required):
“[Gibbs] produced the best behind-the-plate arm at the prospect showcase. His throws had zip and were often on the money. But even if they were up the line, he would have nabbed most basestealers because of how quickly he released the baseball. When Chandler tried to steal, he was thrown out by a good six to eight feet.”
The Pirates love defense first with their catchers, and Gibbs fits the bill. He looks to stick at catcher in the long-term, and should get the priority with one of the short-season teams. There isn’t much competition at the lowest levels at catchers, with Yoel Gonzalez (who signed for $350,000 in 2012) being the only other high profile guy. It’s hard to say at this point if they’d send him to Morgantown or Bristol, although if it’s between him and Gonzalez, I’d guess he would go to Morgantown.
Offensively, Gibbs had some good results this year, hitting for a .396/.497/.590 line in 144 at-bats, along with five homers and a 22:15 K/BB ratio. Those are good results, but they come in a small conference in the JuCo ranks. The downsides to his offensive game are that he doesn’t square up balls, and that he struggles on inside pitches. Just like with third round pick Stephen Alemais, who is a strong defensive shortstop, you’re not going to find a strong defensive catcher after the first round who doesn’t have questions about his offense.
Gibbs has the commitment to USC, but should be signable being taken in the top ten rounds. I’m not sure if he would be under-slot, with the price for this pick at $185,700. If he is, I’m not sure the Pirates would be saving much for the early prep pitchers. As far as the signability, the early indications are good that he will decide to join the organization:
I'm a Pittsburgh Pirate!!
— Brent Gibbs (@BGibbs29) June 10, 2016