Morning Report: Which Catchers in the System Control the Running Game the Best?

While I was looking over defensive stats for yesterday’s Morning Report, I thought about adding the caught stealing rates for each team. There are enough catchers in the system to make it into one article though, especially when you include the team comparisons within their own league.

Below, you will find the team rankings for all eight affiliates within their leagues, along with every catcher currently still in the system. I listed them from the top level on down, going with the players who receive the most playing time first. Stats are prior to yesterday’s games.

I’ll note that the Pirates used to have their pitchers worry more about the hitters at the lower levels, so that led to some very poor caught stealing rates, even for catchers with strong arms, who were quick behind the plate. That has changed over the last few years and now the lower level pitchers will attempt to control the running game.

It’s still best to look at a player compared to his teammates and the team average on the list below, because it gives you a better idea of their chances of catching runners. You’ll see below that Bradenton hasn’t been good at throwing out runners, but Christian Kelley and John Bormann, their two main catchers, are both solid defensive catchers. So it’s better to compare them to each other (and Kevin Krause), rather than players on other teams. I’d say the pitching staff has been a main contributing factor in their lower numbers.

Pitchers usually hold on runners better as you get higher up the system, so you’ll notice some high numbers at the upper levels with the top three players in particular. Although, all three of them are also known for their strong throwing arms.


Indianapolis has thrown out 42% of 106 attempts. The league average is 32% and Indianapolis is the best team in the league.

Altoona has thrown out 40% of 89 attempts. The league average is 35% and the Curve rank fifth in the 12-team league.

Bradenton has thrown out 24% of 109 attempts. The league average in 34% and the Marauders rank last among 12 teams, though eight teams have allowed more stolen bases.

West Virginia has thrown out 33% of 137 attempts. The league average is 31% and the Power rank right in the middle of the 14-team league.

Morgantown has thrown out 22% of 41 attempts. The league average is 33% and the Black Bears rank tied for last, although only one team has had fewer attempts against.

Bristol has thrown out 31% of 58 attempts. The league average is 31% as well, so not surprisingly, the Pirates are right in the middle of the league. Only one team has had more steal attempts against.

GCL Pirates have thrown out 22% of 55 attempts. The league average is 29% and the Pirates rank 14th out of 17 teams (yes, an odd number of teams in the league).

DSL Pirates have thrown out 22% of 129 attempts. The league average is 35% and the Pirates rank a dreadful 39th out of 40 teams. Only two teams have allowed more steals.


Elias Diaz, Ind. 48% (19-for-40)

Jacob Stallings, Ind. 39% (13-for-33)

Jackson Williams, Ind/Alt. 36% (15-for-42)

Tomas Morales, Ind/Alt. 22% (5-for-23)

Jin-De Jhang, Alt. 53% (18-for-34)

Christian Kelley, Brd. 23% (16-for-71)

John Bormann, Brd/Ind. 29% (10-for-35)

Kevin Krause, Brd. 17% (1-for-6)

Arden Pabst, WV 34% (26-for-76)

Brent Gibbs, WV 34% (11-for-32)

Yoel Gonzalez, Mtown/WV 32% (6-for-19)

Deon Stafford, Mtown 15% (4-for-26)

Raul Hernandez, GCL/Brs/Mtown 27% (4-for-15)

Jason Delay, Brs 37% (7-for-19)

Paul Brands, Brs 32% (9-for-28)

Gabriel Brito, GCL 19% (4-for-21)

Mikell Granberry, GCL 38% (3-for-8)

Manny Bejerano, GCL 19% (5-for-26)

Samuel Inoa, DSL 27% (15-for-56)

Ruben Gonzalez, DSL 24% (10-for-41)

Yair Babilonia, DSL 13% (4-for-32)


The Pirates trail in their division by 5.5 games. They are ten games back for the second wild card spot.

Indianapolis is in first place, with a 1.5 game lead. Their season ends September 4th.

Altoona is in second place, a 1/2 game behind. Their season ends September 4th.

Bradenton is in third place, two games behind. Their season ends September 3rd.

West Virginia is in fourth place, two games out of first. Their season ends September 4th.

Morgantown is in second place, one game back. Their season ends September 7th.

Bristol is in last place, 18 games back. Their season ends August 31st.

The GCL Pirates are in third place, seven games behind. Their season ends September 2nd.

The DSL Pirates are in fourth place, 3.5 games back. Their season ends August 26th.


Source: FanGraphs


Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates lost 5-2 to the San Diego Padres on Saturday night. The Pirates will send Jameson Taillon to the mound today for his 16th start. He didn’t face the Padres last week when these two clubs met up. Taillon has allowed 17 earned runs over 6.2 innings in his last two starts combined. The Padres will counter with lefty Clayton Richard, who has a 5.40 ERA in 133.1 innings, with 95 strikeouts and a 1.61 WHIP. He faced the Pirates last week and allowed four runs over six innings.

In the minors, Mitch Keller makes his Double-A debut tonight in Trenton. More on him later today. Steven Brault starts for Indianapolis tonight. He allowed three runs in his last start, all of them coming on a home run. It was just the third time all season that he gave up more than two runs in a game. Bradenton has a doubleheader today after a rain out last night. Pedro Vasquez starts in game one, trying to bounce back from a nine-run outing that added 61 points to his season ERA. Braeden Ogle will start for Bristol tonight. The DSL Pirates and GCL Pirates are off today.

MLB: Pittsburgh (53-57) vs Padres (49-60) 1:35 PM
Probable starter: Jameson Taillon (4.74 ERA, 26:76 BB/SO, 79.2 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (61-52) @ Louisville (44-68) 6:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Steven Brault (2.20 ERA, 39:102 BB/SO, 106.1 IP)

AA: Altoona (58-53) @ Trenton (74-37) 5:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Mitch Keller (NR)

High-A: Bradenton (60-47) @ Florida (38-64) 3:05 PM  (season preview)
Probable starter:  Pedro Vasquez (3.04 ERA, 24:87 BB/SO, 112.2 IP) and Logan Sendelbach (2.93 ERA, 19:41 BB/SO, 61.1 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (51-57) vs Delmarva (49-60) 2:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Eduardo Vera (3.27 ERA, 11:78 BB/SO, 93.2 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (26-19) @ Batavia (16-27) 1:05 PM (season preview)
Probable Starter: Gavin Wallace (3.07 ERA, 2:21 BB/SO, 29.1 IP)

Rookie: Bristol (9-34) vs Danville (23-20) 6:00 PM

GCL: Pirates (13-23) vs Phillies (21-13) 12:00 PM 8/7

DSL: Pirates (29-25) vs Dodgers2 (30-24) 10:30 AM 8/7 DH (season preview)


Here is Nick Kingham picking up a strikeout during his 7.2 shutout innings on Friday night.


8/5: Pirates claim George Kontos off waivers. Designate Jhan Marinez and Danny Ortiz for assignment.

8/5: Pirates acquire Sean Rodriguez from Atlanta Braves for Connor Joe.

8/5: Wade LeBlanc reinstated from bereavement list.

8/4: Mitch Keller promoted to Altoona. Jerrick Suiter placed on the temporarily inactive list.

8/4: Michael de la Cruz assigned to GCL Pirates

8/4: James Marvel promoted to Bradenton. Oddy Nunez activated from West Virginia disabled list.

8/3: Angel German and Oneil Cruz added to West Virginia roster. Jordan Jess promoted to Bradenton. Nick King assigned to Morgantown.

8/3: Eury Perez traded to Miami Marlins for cash.

8/2: Gregory Polanco activated from disabled list. Jordan Luplow optioned to Indianapolis.

8/2: Wade LeBlanc placed on Bereavement List. Dovydas Neverauskas recalled from Indianapolis.

8/1: Oddy Nunez and Blake Cederlind placed on disabled list. Oneil Cruz and Angel German assigned to West Virginia.

8/1: Adrian Valerio activated from disabled list.

8/1: Stephan Meyer assigned to West Virginia. Hector Quinones assigned to Bristol.

7/31: Tony Watson traded to Los Angeles Dodgers for Oneil Cruz and Angel German

7/31: Seth McGarry traded to Philadelphia Phillies for Joaquin Benoit and cash

7/31: Brandon Waddell activated from disabled list. Miguel  Rosario assigned to Bradenton

7/28: Jordan Luplow promoted to Pittsburgh Pirates. Edwin Espinal promoted to Indianapolis. Jordan George promoted to Altoona.

7/28: Austin Meadows assigned to GCL Pirates on rehab.

7/27: Logan Hill placed on disabled list. Justin Maffei assigned to Altoona.

7/27: Steven Brault optioned to Indianapolis.


Seven former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, two of them played for World Series winners and one was related to a Hall of Famer. Starting with the most recent first.

Stan Belinda, relief pitcher from 1989 until 1993. No comment

Steve Nicosia, catcher for the 1979 World Series champs. Played with the team from 1978 until 1983, which was when he asked to be traded because he wasn’t getting playing time behind Tony Pena.

Clem Labine, pitcher for the 1960 World Series champs. Labine lasted until 1961 with the team. He had a 1.48 ERA in 30.1 late season innings for the 1960 Pirates.

Bud Hafey, outfielder for the 1935-36 Pirates. His brother Tom played two years in the majors and his cousin Chick Hafey was a Hall of Fame outfielder for the Reds and Cardinals. Bud played 97 games for the Pirates over his two seasons.

Bud Sharpe, 1910 first baseman. After winning the World Series in 1909, the Pirates moved on from first baseman Bill Abstein and had an open competition between Sharpe and John Flynn. They kept both on Opening Day, but Flynn soon took over full-time and Sharpe was traded away at the end of April.

Brownie Foreman, lefty pitcher during the 1895-96 seasons. He had a 3.22 ERA during his first season with the Pirates, which was one of the best years for offense in baseball history, so that ERA was actually much better than it looks. He didn’t last long with Pirates the following year due to poor performance.

Jim McDonald, 1884 utility fielder. Back in 1884, teams didn’t carry many extra players, sometimes only one position player and a couple pitchers. McDonald played five positions that year and hit .159 in 38 games.

  • Jin-DE Jhang’s numbers are particularly impressive. Maybe this is why they were willing to let Reese McGuire go.

  • mike_carlini66
    August 6, 2017 2:21 pm

    I was shocked to read Jin-De Jhang has thrown out 53% of runners. Does he lead the league in that category?

  • Is it significant that Bristol, which you noted is a particularly bad defensive team, is middle of the pack in caught stealing rate? That might be their bright spot defensively.

    • I think it’s somewhat surprising that teams aren’t running more often against them. Eight of the nine other teams in the league have had more steals attempted against them. So while they are throwing out a decent %, it’s in fewer opportunities. They are eighth in WHIP, have the second most hit batters and those errors are putting runners on base, so you would think teams would be running more often against them.

  • I really wish the Pirates had more money to add a super-star in the off-season (via trade). Trade Cutch (because even if he keeps up his resurgence, he’s not resigning after next season/not worth the risk for a small market team at his age). They would then have additional prospects to trade for said superstar without worrying about depleting the system. This is, of course, assuming Meadows plays up to the hype and Polanco continues to improve in order to replace Cutch’s production in addition to the new superstar.

  • Maybe the pirates should talk to Chris Stewart about be a coach,so they can open up a roster spot for diaz. Cervilli is a 90-100 game catcher and that would give diaz more than enough starts this season and next season.

    • Agree, Diaz has shown enough offensively and defensively that it is time for him to be in Pittsburgh. Also, there is enough depth in the upper levels that if Cervelli or Diaz got hurt, we could fill the void temporarily.

    • rickmontgomery
      August 6, 2017 1:35 pm

      I believe I’ve heard talk that the Pirates consider Stewart to be manager material. Maybe that’s why they keep him despite his awful production. Good idea.