Assuming they hit equally, which one is your starter?

A - The best receiver

B - The best at blocking 

C - The best pop time / best thrower

(I know, having multiple great catchers is not likely, but I'd really just love to know which skills you value most in a game at the high school level!)

Original Post

Blocking.

A is mostly irrelevant in HS. C is nice to have but realistically most stolen bases are on the pitcher in HS. A good catcher will have about a 40% throwout rate. How often do those runs end up scoring? At least the runners have to earn those bags. If you can't block you are just giving bases away. If guys are reaching on strikeouts it is a problem. The runners are going to be safe at second the majority of the time anyway. I can sacrifice 10% to make sure nothing gets by my catcher. 

PABaseball posted:

Blocking.

A is mostly irrelevant in HS. C is nice to have but realistically most stolen bases are on the pitcher in HS. A good catcher will have about a 40% throwout rate. How often do those runs end up scoring? At least the runners have to earn those bags. If you can't block you are just giving bases away. If guys are reaching on strikeouts it is a problem. The runners are going to be safe at second the majority of the time anyway. I can sacrifice 10% to make sure nothing gets by my catcher. 

Spoken like somebody who knows!  Very well said.  Are you a HS coach?  

No but having seen enough HS ball, I can tell that pitchers don't hold runners on all that well. I've seen MLB draft level talent behind the plate that can't throw any guys out because their pitcher doesn't give them a shot. A 1.89 pop is nice, but not enough to nail the guy who is already halfway to second when the ball hits the mitt 

Blocking.  A pitcher will increasingly try to get hitters chase to get outs, especially as they move up to better levels of play.  If a C can’t block, or a P doesn’t have confidence that his C will block a ball in the dirt, it will change their approach.

CTbballDad posted:

Blocking.  A pitcher will increasingly try to get hitters chase to get outs, especially as they move up to better levels of play.  If a C can’t block, or a P doesn’t have confidence that his C will block a ball in the dirt, it will change their approach.

That's a great point.  I wonder if most coaches realize that?

PABaseball posted:

Blocking.

A is mostly irrelevant in HS. C is nice to have but realistically most stolen bases are on the pitcher in HS. A good catcher will have about a 40% throwout rate. How often do those runs end up scoring? At least the runners have to earn those bags. If you can't block you are just giving bases away. If guys are reaching on strikeouts it is a problem. The runners are going to be safe at second the majority of the time anyway. I can sacrifice 10% to make sure nothing gets by my catcher. 

Agree.   Son was the starting catcher a HS sophomore simply because he blocked better than the senior.   He still had a few get by him, but no where near what the senior allowed.  It also helped he hit better, but the primary reason he was the starter was his blocking ability.   Keeping the pitch in front of the catcher is a big deal in HS ball.  I am not a coach, but my wife works at a local hotel.  LOL!

Anectodal story - in fall ball one year (HS level) our ace pitcher pitched a no hitter, yet the team lost 1-0.  How?   He walked one batter early in the game.   That runner made it all the way around the diamond on passed balls/wild pitches (son was not catching that day).   And even though the team out hit the opponent, they never put enough of them together to score a single run.

FoxDad posted:

Anectodal story - in fall ball one year (HS level) our ace pitcher pitched a no hitter, yet the team lost 1-0.  How?   He walked one batter early in the game.   That runner made it all the way around the diamond on passed balls/wild pitches (son was not catching that day).   And even though the team out hit the opponent, they never put enough of them together to score a single run.

Wow!  That must have been so discouraging for the pitcher.  Does show how important that catcher is though.  A good catcher is a pitcher's best friend.

playhard314 posted:
FoxDad posted:

Anectodal story - in fall ball one year (HS level) our ace pitcher pitched a no hitter, yet the team lost 1-0.  How?   He walked one batter early in the game.   That runner made it all the way around the diamond on passed balls/wild pitches (son was not catching that day).   And even though the team out hit the opponent, they never put enough of them together to score a single run.

Wow!  That must have been so discouraging for the pitcher.  Does show how important that catcher is though.  A good catcher is a pitcher's best friend.

Not entirely so.   There were MLB scouts and some college coaches in attendance.   He did pitch well for the rest of the game.  Just that 1st inning was bad.  This kid would eventually be drafted in the 6th round (right out of HS) by the Rays.

 

Not entirely so.   There were MLB scouts and some college coaches in attendance.   He did pitch well for the rest of the game.  Just that 1st inning was bad.  This kid would eventually be drafted in the 6th round (right out of HS) by the Rays.

I guess I just meant that’s its frustrating to play so well and still lose.  But I’m glad he ultimately got a great outcome!  Happy to hear that.  Is your son still catching?

playhard314 posted:
 

Not entirely so.   There were MLB scouts and some college coaches in attendance.   He did pitch well for the rest of the game.  Just that 1st inning was bad.  This kid would eventually be drafted in the 6th round (right out of HS) by the Rays.

I guess I just meant that’s its frustrating to play so well and still lose.  But I’m glad he ultimately got a great outcome!  Happy to hear that.  Is your son still catching?

Long story short - no.   He last played in 2015.   He was the primary catcher for his travel team prior to HS and during his sophomore year in HS.  His junior year coach moved him to 3B (needed his glove there) and his senior year moved him to 1B.  A good friend of his became the starting catcher though my son would catch occasionally and was one of two catchers for his Legion team.  Once he got to college (D2 Juco followed by one year at a D2 university) he never played catcher again.  After the 2015 season the school did not renew his scholarship as his grades had slipped (NCAA regs) though he was still welcomed to be on the team.

He went back to his old JuCo (he hadn't quite gotten enough credits to get his AA degree when he first went there) to finish his AA.  While there he was a volunteer assistant coach.  After getting his AA he transferred to East Tenn State University.   This December he should be getting his BA (finally! Yay!).

I did ask him in college if he missed catching and the answer was no.  He said his knees took a beating and he actually hit better when not catching.   Something his Legion coach noticed.  He really was the best catcher in the county when he was in HS (note - it's a small county).

During a inter squad scrimmage at the D2 university, he did catch on request of the coach - one of his two catchers was hurt or something.   Anyway, after the game they timed his pop and it was 1.8.   Not too bad for someone who had not been actively practicing at the position.

Sadly, baseball is no longer part of our life (except an occasional minor league game or a trip to Baltimore or DC).  It's been a year or so since I've attended a HS game.  But we enjoyed 15 years of non stop baseball with our son.  It was a helluva ride. 

There was a good thread on this topic a while back, just too lazy to look for it this morning.  While I agree that, at the HS level, blocking would be priority, none of these decisions are made in a bubble.  That is the point that gets lost so often with the parent of, in this example, one of the catchers or pitchers.  If you have three great catchers that hit equally, you probably have three great players in general.  So, you have to give strong consideration to which other positions each of those three play well (or not so much) and match that with what the other team needs are.  What gives the team the best overall alignment?  Sometimes, that means giving up a little at one position to gain more overall.

Then there are other factors like the capability of the P on that given day to hold runners.  Does the P rely on a lot of breaking stuff/off-speed or is he mostly a power guy with decent command?  How much does the opposition likes to run?  etc., etc.  If you truly have three great catchers, it may change by each game situation, each opponent.

I'm looking for the best glove and arm.  Want a combination of both.  Looking for a good glove that can throw a little.  But the most important is someone who will get dirty and work hard. 

My son had a six strikeout inning and four five strikeout innings his sophomore year.  You talk about frustrating.  Lost two games on passed balls.  The conference tournament first game had the 6 strikeouts the first inning and five the second inning and still ended up winning.  My best catcher was gone and I felt sorry for the kid catching but did not have another option.

PitchingFan posted:

I'm looking for the best glove and arm.  Want a combination of both.  Looking for a good glove that can throw a little.  But the most important is someone who will get dirty and work hard. 

My son had a six strikeout inning and four five strikeout innings his sophomore year.  You talk about frustrating.  Lost two games on passed balls.  The conference tournament first game had the 6 strikeouts the first inning and five the second inning and still ended up winning.  My best catcher was gone and I felt sorry for the kid catching but did not have another option.

Yeah, wow that would be frustrating.  You feel bad for the pitcher and the catcher!

cabbagedad posted:

There was a good thread on this topic a while back, just too lazy to look for it this morning.  While I agree that, at the HS level, blocking would be priority, none of these decisions are made in a bubble.  That is the point that gets lost so often with the parent of, in this example, one of the catchers or pitchers.  If you have three great catchers that hit equally, you probably have three great players in general.  So, you have to give strong consideration to which other positions each of those three play well and what the other team needs are.  What gives the team the best overall alignment?  Sometimes, that means giving up a little at one position to gain more overall.

Then there are other factors like the capability of the P on that given day to hold runners.  Does the P rely on a lot of breaking stuff/off-speed or is he mostly a power guy with decent command?  How much does the opposition likes to run?  etc., etc.  If you truly have three great catchers, it may change by each game situation, each opponent.

Those are really good points.  

One year on our Northern California Summer team, I selected three catchers from the local HS. Each catcher had above average skills. We played 5 times per week and my goal was to prepare all our players for the next level. In our League 40 players play MLB baseball.

If I choose #1 skill it would be "game calling" and analyzing the hitters and base runners. [Is the runner's right toe "pointing" to 2b].

Is the "on deck" hitter swing down or up? Our catchers all used the Wilson not the Easton mitt. If they could or would not block the low pitchers then they played LF.

One catcher would DH and catch bullpen. There was no #1, #2, #3 catcher. I treated all equal, however I matched the catcher against the teams, where they would be successful. One catcher is now "Bench" Coach for the Baltimore Orioles.

Bob

 

During a inter squad scrimmage at the D2 university, he did catch on request of the coach - one of his two catchers was hurt or something.   Anyway, after the game they timed his pop and it was 1.8.   Not too bad for someone who had not been actively practicing at the position.

Sadly, baseball is no longer part of our life (except an occasional minor league game or a trip to Baltimore or DC).  It's been a year or so since I've attended a HS game.  But we enjoyed 15 years of non stop baseball with our son.  It was a helluva ride. 

1.8 is great!  And even more impressive if he wasn't actively catching much at the time!   

I find it interesting how some people fall in love with catching while others can take it or leave it.   It sounds like your son just wanted to be on the field and was happy to play multiple different positions, which is awesome.  I'm sure his coaches appreciated that attitude.

game7 posted:

IMHO:

Most important is blocking.  Second is throwing.  Third is receiving.

Edited to say:  WRT throwing:  I focus more on accuracy than on raw poptime.

A 2.4 near-the-bag is better than a 2.2 chest-high.

It seems like most youth and high school coaches would agree with that order (I'm still learning about high school ball though, so that's just my impression). 

When do you think receiving becomes more important?  I know it's considered the most important thing at the pro level.  Do you think college continues to value blocking and throwing most?  Or does receiving become more important at that level?

And I agree that accuracy is worth a lot, maybe even half a second

Consultant posted:

One year on our Northern California Summer team, I selected three catchers from the local HS. Each catcher had above average skills. We played 5 times per week and my goal was to prepare all our players for the next level. In our League 40 players play MLB baseball.

If I choose #1 skill it would be "game calling" and analyzing the hitters and base runners. [Is the runner's right toe "pointing" to 2b].

Is the "on deck" hitter swing down or up? Our catchers all used the Wilson not the Easton mitt. If they could or would not block the low pitchers then they played LF.

One catcher would DH and catch bullpen. There was no #1, #2, #3 catcher. I treated all equal, however I matched the catcher against the teams, where they would be successful. One catcher is now "Bench" Coach for the Baltimore Orioles.

Bob

Wow that's really interesting.  I'm happy to hear you say game calling was a factor, since so many times it's just the coach doing all the pitch calling.

I'm really curious... was framing something you cared much about?

playhard314 posted:

It seems like most youth and high school coaches would agree with that order (I'm still learning about high school ball though, so that's just my impression). 

When do you think receiving becomes more important?  ...

Only when both the accuracy of the pitchers and the consistency of umpire strike calling improve enough to make it a significant difference-maker, more so than the other attributes.  This is very rarely the case in HS, but great improvement is apparent at many college levels.  Also, at that point, the other C's in a program are generally good at blocking and throwing too, so it can be a separator.  Still, hitting, throwing, blocking and game management hold more weight.  A catcher isn't going to be recruited primarily on his receiving skills.  It matters but tertiary at best.

A big key here is preventing runners from advancing bases.  Of course, a past ball is a free base.  A stolen base is advancing a base.  A well-framed pitch may, on occasion, get you a strike or, less frequently, an out but is relatively less of a factor in preventing bases.  You can argue, situationally, between the importance of blocking vs. throwing/POP but receiving is a clear third at that level, even with the abstract deductions that can be made with buying occasional strikes.

playhard314 posted:

Assuming they hit equally, which one is your starter?

A - The best receiver

B - The best at blocking 

C - The best pop time / best thrower

(I know, having multiple great catchers is not likely, but I'd really just love to know which skills you value most in a game at the high school level!)

game7 posted:

IMHO:

Most important is blocking.  Second is throwing.  Third is receiving.

Edited to say:  WRT throwing:  I focus more on accuracy than on raw poptime.

A 2.4 near-the-bag is better than a 2.2 chest-high.

Game7 is spot on in regards to accuracy--I saw something recently which showed how much time was lost on an inaccurate throw. I see a lot of catchers who claim to be 2.0 that don't throw anybody out; either because the runners aren't held or they can't "game throw." 

 

Also agree that blocking is most important--if you can't block, you need another position. I can't imagine watching a game with 11 K's in two innings--UGH!

In youth/High school, I think throwing is overvalued and receiving is undervalued. Watched a 16u game this weekend, where the opposing catcher made a mediocre pitcher look like Greg Maddux. To our five LHH, he was getting strikes 2 baseballs outside the plate. Our kids/parents were losing their minds but I say, tip your cap to the kid for a great game and shame on us not to adjust. His arm wasn't flashy (didn't throw anyone out or stop us from running) but he made a big difference in the game with his receiving. 

 

 

 

Watched a 16u game this weekend, where the opposing catcher made a mediocre pitcher look like Greg Maddux. To our five LHH, he was getting strikes 2 baseballs outside the plate. Our kids/parents were losing their minds but I say, tip your cap to the kid for a great game and shame on us not to adjust. His arm wasn't flashy (didn't throw anyone out or stop us from running) but he made a big difference in the game with his receiving. 

 

I loved hearing this, and I loved even more that you noticed!  It's sad that so few coaches appreciate good receiving.  Especially since it becomes so important later on.  I wonder how many catchers spend all their time working on their throwing, only to realize a little too late that now suddenly at a higher level they're expected to be good receivers... and it takes time to develop that skill.  Uh oh.

hitting, throwing, blocking and game management hold more weight.  A catcher isn't going to be recruited primarily on his receiving skills.  It matters but tertiary at best.

A big key here is preventing runners from advancing bases.  Of course, a past ball is a free base.  A stolen base is advancing a base.  A well-framed pitch may, on occasion, get you a strike or, less frequently, an out but is relatively less of a factor in preventing bases.  You can argue, situationally, between the importance of blocking vs. throwing/POP but receiving is a clear third at that level, even with the abstract deductions that can be made with buying occasional strikes.

Thanks for your reply, @cabbagedad.  When you say game management... are you including pitch calling in that?

playhard314 posted:
hitting, throwing, blocking and game management hold more weight.  A catcher isn't going to be recruited primarily on his receiving skills.  It matters but tertiary at best.

A big key here is preventing runners from advancing bases.  Of course, a past ball is a free base.  A stolen base is advancing a base.  A well-framed pitch may, on occasion, get you a strike or, less frequently, an out but is relatively less of a factor in preventing bases.  You can argue, situationally, between the importance of blocking vs. throwing/POP but receiving is a clear third at that level, even with the abstract deductions that can be made with buying occasional strikes.

Thanks for your reply, @cabbagedad.  When you say game management... are you including pitch calling in that?

When applicable.  There are many successful programs in HS and college where the staff calls pitches and plays.  That's a whole other discussion that has been had here in depth - you can search the topic.  Regardless, there is still plenty for a C to manage...  calling throws, calling IF pop flies, getting to the fence to help other fielders on foul pop ups, taking charge of bunts, knowing what each P responds best to (pace, dialog, number of visits/time outs, etc.), calling backpicks, proper umpire relations, on and on. 

cabbagedad posted:
playhard314 posted:
hitting, throwing, blocking and game management hold more weight.  A catcher isn't going to be recruited primarily on his receiving skills.  It matters but tertiary at best.

A big key here is preventing runners from advancing bases.  Of course, a past ball is a free base.  A stolen base is advancing a base.  A well-framed pitch may, on occasion, get you a strike or, less frequently, an out but is relatively less of a factor in preventing bases.  You can argue, situationally, between the importance of blocking vs. throwing/POP but receiving is a clear third at that level, even with the abstract deductions that can be made with buying occasional strikes.

Thanks for your reply, @cabbagedad.  When you say game management... are you including pitch calling in that?

When applicable.  There are many successful programs in HS and college where the staff calls pitches and plays.  That's a whole other discussion that has been had here in depth - you can search the topic.  Regardless, there is still plenty for a C to manage...  calling throws, calling IF pop flies, getting to the fence to help other fielders on foul pop ups, taking charge of bunts, knowing what each P responds best to (pace, dialog, number of visits/time outs, etc.), calling backpicks, proper umpire relations, on and on. 

That's a great list.  There's so much for catchers to think about.  It's no wonder they all become big league managers LOL.  If I was a college admissions person, I'd be like "We need more baseball catchers in our business / management school"

As the dad of a kid who just finished his D1 career, 3 years of it as a pitcher....it's blocking, no question.  If a pitcher can feel comfortable throwing any pitch in any count and a guy on third, he can be almost untouchable.  If he's afraid to throw a curve because he might bounce it and he knows his C can't handle it, he's not going to be nearly as effective.  You can't pitch being scared that your catcher can't handle what you throw him.

Imo the best at keeping the ball from rolling to the backstop. Receiving is nice and the arm shouldn't be too bad but the most costly thing at lower levels are passed balls. This is not just about blocking but also picking and just plain catching the ball and not letting balls glance off the glove or drop strike 3s out of the glove.

He should hit some too but a passed ball is about as valuable as a hit so you can't really hit enough to compensate for 3-4 passed balls per game.

 

Btw in mlb it is different, teams almost entirely focus on framing and tend to focus much less on blocking and arm than a decade ago.

But you also have to consider that the base level is much higher in mlb. There are simply no catchers with a 70 mph fastball velo (if they pitched) or being super terrible at blocking so a little more or less doesn't matter to the teams in these days. 

But in hs the differences are so big, you will find some noddle arm guys and some guys who can't hold on to the ball and stop it.

Same applies to range. Sabermetrics guys say errors don't matter and it is all about range in mlb and that is true but if you boot 30% of the fielding chances or air mail 30% of the throws your range doesn't matter and thus a HS coach will play a guy who fields and throws to the base everything in a 10 foot radius and doesn't get to anything else over an athletic guy who makes an error half of the time.

But in mlb even the worst fielders have a fielding percentage of way over .900 (usually even 950) because they have a good baseline competence so in mlb it is really all about range.

That is also why the "fundamentally sound steady eddy" who the youth coach loved despite not being a great athlete because he would execute the routine plays is not super sought after by college coaches because all their guys can catch a ball and thus range becomes the deciding factor.

Can't always compare different levels and say "sabermetrics says this so we need to play like this in hs ball".

 

 

 

Dominik85 posted:

 

 

Dominik85 posted:

Btw in mlb it is different, teams almost entirely focus on framing and tend to focus much less on blocking and arm than a decade ago.

But you also have to consider that the base level is much higher in mlb. There are simply no catchers with a 70 mph fastball velo (if they pitched) or being super terrible at blocking so a little more or less doesn't matter to the teams in these days. 

 

Can't always compare different levels and say "sabermetrics says this so we need to play like this in hs ball".

 

 

 

 

Thanks for the post...I appreciate your perspective here. I sent a "sabery" question out a few month ago (first post!) and got pretty well told that you couldn't/shouldn't evaluate receiving at high school because there were too many variables and/or you could not measure it objectively. Not sure I agree but that was the general consensus.

Your point about the base level skill at higher levels really will give me some things to think about as I watch four games this weekend, subjectively evaluating catchers!

 

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