Love the discussion here. I have tried to find a meaningful way to evaluate catchers without the technology they have in the major leagues. In the major leagues, I understand receiving is more important than blocking and throwing COMBINED.

My son's best skill is receiving. For years, he has had to sit and watch as kids with "the big arm" caught ahead of him. You'd see the kids with the big arm jump out of his stance, lose a strike and then throw the ball into centerfield-awesome. Somehow that would get rewarded but a passed ball or Stolen base allowed was a trip back to the bench for my kid. (doesn't help that he has a June birthday, so always is a year ahead in school.)

On the other hand, last summer my son and the other catcher on his summer team caught approximately the same number of pitches (1700). My son got 70 more called and 22 more swinging strikes. We can debate the factors that may have contributed to 92 more strikes but to me, that is significant (proud dad!). 

The issue for me is finding a metric to evaluate pitch framing as a skill. Seems so subjective that a dad would be accused of padding the stats on any sort of evaluation tool. So few coaches have any sort of idea how to work with catchers--(Do they always just have to shag for the coach and catch bullpens?) They get wowed by the big arm but don't value pitch framing as something that is done. 

Would love to hear thoughts/suggestions!

Original Post

I guess the biggest question would be how do you possibly know those numbers???     What age of summer ball was he playing?     Unless they were both catching the same pitchers throwing the same pitches to the same batters,  I don't see that number meaning much if anything.  As far as college catchers and what is looked at.....as the dad of a D1 pitcher, I can tell you that the pitchers only care if the catcher can block balls in the dirt and save them giving up bases (and throw guys out)......and the coaches only care if the catchers can hit and throw guys out. 

I ran a 15U/16U team for two summers that had essentially one catcher.  This kid could have played D1 ball, but chose to go to the Marines.  We had 4 future D1 pitchers on that team...my son was one....and two lefties that both got drafted out of D1's last summer as Juniors and are now in the MiLB.  I can tell you that at least 1 of those MilB guys...and also my son...will tell you that to this day, that kid is the best catcher they ever had.  Why?  Because they could bounce a curveball in the dirt at ANY time...and know that it wasn't getting by him.  They wouldn't hesitate to bounce balls even with guys on third.  I can tell you that my son got spoiled lol.  Going back to HS the following Spring was tough...and he had to change his whole pitching strategy and be a lot more careful.  My son would probably take put him behind the plate today if he could....even though he hasn't caught a game in 4 years...he was just that confident having him back there

You will not change the opinion of a coach with a framing metric of some sort that your son has more value than another.

I have found position specific skill improvements falls on the players personal time.  Once a player accepts that the team practice/coaching is not enough to improve one specific skill, he needs to take ownership of developing that skill on his own.  No metric will change that opinion.  If your coach values an arm and blocking skills behind the plate, than that is what I would want my son to work on.

 

 

Buckeye 2015 posted:

I guess the biggest question would be how do you possibly know those numbers???     What age of summer ball was he playing?     Unless they were both catching the same pitchers throwing the same pitches to the same batters,  I don't see that number meaning much if anything.  As far as college catchers and what is looked at.....as the dad of a D1 pitcher, I can tell you that the pitchers only care if the catcher can block balls in the dirt and save them giving up bases (and throw guys out)......and the coaches only care if the catchers can hit and throw guys out. 

I ran a 15U/16U team for two summers that had essentially one catcher.  This kid could have played D1 ball, but chose to go to the Marines.  We had 4 future D1 pitchers on that team...my son was one....and two lefties that both got drafted out of D1's last summer as Juniors and are now in the MiLB.  I can tell you that at least 1 of those MilB guys...and also my son...will tell you that to this day, that kid is the best catcher they ever had.  Why?  Because they could bounce a curveball in the dirt at ANY time...and know that it wasn't getting by him.  They wouldn't hesitate to bounce balls even with guys on third.  I can tell you that my son got spoiled lol.  Going back to HS the following Spring was tough...and he had to change his whole pitching strategy and be a lot more careful.  My son would probably take put him behind the plate today if he could....even though he hasn't caught a game in 4 years...he was just that confident having him back there

+1000 

c4dad posted:

Love the discussion here. I have tried to find a meaningful way to evaluate catchers without the technology they have in the major leagues. In the major leagues, I understand receiving is more important than blocking and throwing COMBINED.

My son's best skill is receiving. For years, he has had to sit and watch as kids with "the big arm" caught ahead of him. You'd see the kids with the big arm jump out of his stance, lose a strike and then throw the ball into centerfield-awesome. Somehow that would get rewarded but a passed ball or Stolen base allowed was a trip back to the bench for my kid. (doesn't help that he has a June birthday, so always is a year ahead in school.)

On the other hand, last summer my son and the other catcher on his summer team caught approximately the same number of pitches (1700). My son got 70 more called and 22 more swinging strikes. We can debate the factors that may have contributed to 92 more strikes but to me, that is significant (proud dad!). 

The issue for me is finding a metric to evaluate pitch framing as a skill. Seems so subjective that a dad would be accused of padding the stats on any sort of evaluation tool. So few coaches have any sort of idea how to work with catchers--(Do they always just have to shag for the coach and catch bullpens?) They get wowed by the big arm but don't value pitch framing as something that is done. 

Would love to hear thoughts/suggestions!

C4dad, welcome to the site.  I'll give you some perspective from a HS coach seat...

Proper framing technique is important and it is certainly something that we worked on.  But, particularly at the HS level and below, it is FAR down the line of importance as compared to those skills that prevent the opposition from taking bases.  Those skills involve the ability to throw runners out and the ability to not allow runners to take bases by allowing passed balls and balls in the dirt that are blocked/partially blocked where the runner advances anyway.  Among other things, the variance in umpires' strike zones and umpires' consistency are some reasons why framing is less important.  The bigger reasons are that passed balls and stolen bases had more direct impact on runs allowed.  That connection is often more abstract with pitch framing.

A catcher with a weak arm, slow POP time or poor ability to keep the ball in front is far more detrimental than a catcher who doesn't frame well.  

As far as finding a metric, it is not feasible at the HS level, nor will it be by the time your son is off to college.  It is hard enough to find someone who can properly keep the basic book.  My advice is - instead of focusing on the thing your son does well, encourage him to work hard on the things he needs to improve upon that will be more productive to him earning additional playing time.

cabbagedad posted:
Among other things, the variance in umpires' strike zones and umpires' consistency are some reasons why framing is less important.

This statement by cabbagedad hit the nail on the head in my opinion. As the dad of a catcher striving to play at the next level, I have watched and listened to a TON of catching information delivered by coaches, players, and those considered experts in the craft, and while receiving may be #1 up the ladder, at the HS level the officiating is simply not at a place where it's nearly as important as preventing runner advancement on the paths.

FTR, My son is a pitcher and threw all four years in HS to the #11 pick in the 2105 draft , who is a catcher. A recent prospect ranking on him mentioned improving his defensive skills/throwdowns as a focus. He threw to another guy in college who was drafted by the same MLB team as his HS catcher. Both are prospects in their system. We also have close friends who have son who is catcher at a very good D1 school. Disclaimer: I am not a catching coach or catching skills aficionado.

From what i've seen, college coaches care about catchers who can hit. The defensive catcher has traditionally taken a backseat to the catcher who has less defending skills but who can rake. Excelling in receiving the ball doesn't get you a scholarship or drafted.

 

Receiving and blocking skills can be coached with proper guidance. A big arm is like being naturally fast, hard to really teach. Might be able to up the arm strength or speed a little but genetics plays the larger role. Your son can continue to work on his arm strength as well as technique to help get his Pops down. All coaches like fast kids and big arms especially if they can rake.     

As a pitcher's dad and a former HS coach, I cared could my catcher keep the ball in front and slow down runners.  I thought it was my pitcher's job to keep them close to the bag.  I taught framing but it was down the line from blocking and throwing.  I've always said a good catcher has to not care about getting killed and those are few and far between.  I teach pitchers and I told one the other day on his curveball that his best friend, HS catcher, should hate his guts every time the coach calls curve ball because most of them should be in the dirt.  You can teach your kid to block if he is willing to get pelted by the ball in every part of his body.  If he is not willing to block (or crush the ball) there is no future in catching.  I will agree with your coaches, the fastest way for a catcher to get pulled is to allow passed balls.  Anyone can catch balls in the air, catchers have to love blocking them. 

cabbagedad posted:
c4dad posted:

Love the discussion here. I have tried to find a meaningful way to evaluate catchers without the technology they have in the major leagues. In the major leagues, I understand receiving is more important than blocking and throwing COMBINED.

My son's best skill is receiving. For years, he has had to sit and watch as kids with "the big arm" caught ahead of him. You'd see the kids with the big arm jump out of his stance, lose a strike and then throw the ball into centerfield-awesome. Somehow that would get rewarded but a passed ball or Stolen base allowed was a trip back to the bench for my kid. (doesn't help that he has a June birthday, so always is a year ahead in school.)

On the other hand, last summer my son and the other catcher on his summer team caught approximately the same number of pitches (1700). My son got 70 more called and 22 more swinging strikes. We can debate the factors that may have contributed to 92 more strikes but to me, that is significant (proud dad!). 

The issue for me is finding a metric to evaluate pitch framing as a skill. Seems so subjective that a dad would be accused of padding the stats on any sort of evaluation tool. So few coaches have any sort of idea how to work with catchers--(Do they always just have to shag for the coach and catch bullpens?) They get wowed by the big arm but don't value pitch framing as something that is done. 

Would love to hear thoughts/suggestions!

C4dad, welcome to the site.  I'll give you some perspective from a HS coach seat...

Proper framing technique is important and it is certainly something that we worked on.  But, particularly at the HS level and below, it is FAR down the line of importance as compared to those skills that prevent the opposition from taking bases.  Those skills involve the ability to throw runners out and the ability to not allow runners to take bases by allowing passed balls and balls in the dirt that are blocked/partially blocked where the runner advances anyway.  Among other things, the variance in umpires' strike zones and umpires' consistency are some reasons why framing is less important.  The bigger reasons are that passed balls and stolen bases had more direct impact on runs allowed.  That connection is often more abstract with pitch framing.

A catcher with a weak arm, slow POP time or poor ability to keep the ball in front is far more detrimental than a catcher who doesn't frame well.  

As far as finding a metric, it is not feasible at the HS level, nor will it be by the time your son is off to college.  It is hard enough to find someone who can properly keep the basic book.  My advice is - instead of focusing on the thing your son does well, encourage him to work hard on the things he needs to improve upon that will be more productive to him earning additional playing time.

thanks cabbagedad for your thoughtful response and being gentle with a first time poster!

I do respect your perspective. I have read the responses to my initial post and can't decide if I put in too much information or not enough to give context to my question. I have followed this site for about a year and found the quality of discussion to be very high. I found a metric last week that the catching coach at Concordia uses to evaluate his catchers--it includes throwing, blocking, AND receiving. My question was does anyone have a metric that they use in evaluating catchers. From the responses, apparently this isn't the site for that sort of question?!?

If I come off as one of "those parents," I certainly apologize for that perception. I will plead that I am a first time poster who really only wants to help his kid identify and improve his skills...

With best intent...

Haha, C4dad, we are all parents who love our kids.  So, by default, we have all been "those parents" to varying degrees.  In fact, I think many of us hang around largely to help others be just a little less crazy than we were.

I would be interested to see the metric that Concordia uses.  

I don't think that this is the wrong place. I think the answer is just that until you get to the highest levels, framework is not nearly as important, because at that point all catchers block everything and have big arms. 

To get to the next level you need to throw people out and limit passed balls. Once you're there then you separate by receiving skills. 

PABaseball posted:

I don't think that this is the wrong place. I think the answer is just that until you get to the highest levels, framework is not nearly as important, because at that point all catchers block everything and have big arms. 

To get to the next level you need to throw people out and limit passed balls. Once you're there then you separate by receiving skills. 

Maybe even more so in high school, catcher needs to be the field boss.  Our 3 year starter at C graduated, and scrimmages and early games seem to be more about settling on the catcher.  Only need one in HS here.  Games are spread out.

My youngest was a wrestler then a catcher. He loved blocking and took great pride in being the dirtiest catcher after practices. He was also very proud that none of the other catchers could come close to the time he could on wall squats, even though they had been at all the winter workouts, and he had been to none.  He did not play after his Freshman year in HS. He was the only catcher on any team he played that was allowed to call pitches. Freshman year he was the third catcher on the freshman team. He still got to call pitches, and the others did not. It was a sore point among some parents. However he was still the third catcher, and did not get much time catching. 

In wrestling he was always one of the lightweights, 106 his freshman year. So the reality of keeping his weight in check was somewhat at odds. Although his core was relatively strong and his lower body. However the other catchers had stronger arms and could better control the the run game. My son was not very good at throwing down to second. He was accurate, however he usually short hopped it. Many of the BB coaches, had hoped he would stick it out. They hoped he would have the same kind of Growth Spurt his older brother had. They loved his potential, however it was just that potential. So the other catchers all had a leg up unless he grew quite a bit more. 

He has been out of BB since Freshman year and he is getting ready to graduate from college with a degree in Engineering. I still see some of his old coaches and His older brother is now coaching in the program. They always mentions that they wish he could have stuck it out, however they understood Wrestling came first. 

Bishop-Thanks for the email. Our kids would probably get along just fine! Sounds like they have a lot in common. My son got his growth spurt this year---4 pant sizes and 30 of muscle. I can't wait to see him play this spring!

My son is most interested in being an Aerospace Engineer. Post High-School baseball for him will only be a wedge to get into a HA school, if he can. He is not interested in "getting to the next level-" unless that means a quality education. If I had a nickle for every time someone sold me on the next level, I  could pay for that HA school with no sweat! (btw: the first time I heard "next level" was when he was 10! I asked the coach if the next level was 11U--He looked at me like I was from another planet! Needless to say, I didn't pay the $4000 to have him tell 11 year olds about playing community college baseball!)

What he is interested in is doing what he can to make his team and his pitchers better. I was looking for something on here to quantify that but not a lot of positive feedback to that concept. Fortunately, I have found something from Jerry Weinstein that is pretty much what I need. I think he may know a little something about catching!

 

cabbagedad posted:

I would be interested to see the metric that Concordia uses.  

I don't know if you are on twitter. I was looking around last night and found basically the same rubric on Jerry Weinsteins twitter account. I think Concordia must have heard him at ABCA and adapted it for their program. Collin Weber is the catching coach at Concordia. You can find their metric on his twitter page.

If not on twitter, let me know and I can see if I can just send it to you. Not sure what the rules are but as it isn't my stuff, I am not sure I should post it?!?

c4dad posted:
cabbagedad posted:

I would be interested to see the metric that Concordia uses.  

I don't know if you are on twitter. I was looking around last night and found basically the same rubric on Jerry Weinsteins twitter account. I think Concordia must have heard him at ABCA and adapted it for their program. Collin Weber is the catching coach at Concordia. You can find their metric on his twitter page.

If not on twitter, let me know and I can see if I can just send it to you. Not sure what the rules are but as it isn't my stuff, I am not sure I should post it?!?

Hey C4... I'm not on Twitter.  If it is something posted somewhere publicly, I would think it would be fine (with maybe a nod to the source ?) but you can also PM me if that is a more comfortable option.  No problem if not.   

c4dad posted:
What he is interested in is doing what he can to make his team and his pitchers better. I was looking for something on here to quantify that but not a lot of positive feedback to that concept. 

c4dad, 

If you could quantity his framing skill, how will it help his team?  I did find  Jerry Weinstein data interesting but have a hard time understanding how that can be applied at lower levels.  The anomaly in skill set is so large in youth baseball compared to MLB.  At the youth levels, the skill set of each umpire, pitcher, hitter, and etc is drastically different from player to player. 

 

So, I would think that 1-1 strike that is either pushed out of or into the strike zone is an important pitch!?! Having a kid actually work to develop ALL of his skills--throwing (JW records pop times 7 times a game!), blocking, game execution, and receiving (yep, and before people say it, hitting x10!) has got to be important in improving your team...If all the feedback a kid gets is the number of PB/WP and CS/SB, I am not sure that is the kind of quality feedback a kid needs to work on his game.

I DO hear you about umpiring--believe me, it is a thankless job and talent sure varies in our neck of the woods! I am processing that one. My knee-jerk is that I actually have seen umpires at the JV/youth level who can be more influenced by a good receiver. I had an opposing dad get mad at me last summer because his son struck out three times on borderline pitches that were  called strikes when my son was catching. Did that improve my son's team? All three were the 3rd out of the inning. Could another catcher have done that--absolutely. Do you tip your cap to the pitcher who can drop a two-strike pitch on the black- for sure.

I think part of my issue is that I have coached football for 27 years. Football has changed a ton. The things coaches are doing with video as a teaching tool at the high school level is unbelievable. Using analytics is much easier than it used to be in high school football. In baseball, we have a team in our league that has three go-pros set up to record their baseball games. I don't know what they do with the video but I am guessing there is a lot of football'ish film study and grading kids on their play. Could be wrong on that--just an assumption. Maybe some dad has got WAY too much time/money on his hands? If so, maybe we need to connect him with cabbagedad to get his feet back on the ground?!?

Everybody have a great weekend! It is my hope that you can see a high school, college or spring training game in the sun without snow on the ground! 

cabbagedad posted:

Haha, C4dad, we are all parents who love our kids.  So, by default, we have all been "those parents" to varying degrees.  In fact, I think many of us hang around largely to help others be just a little less crazy than we were.

I would be interested to see the metric that Concordia uses.  

Ok. I found this via Collin Wilber at Concordia University. It appears very similar to something Jerry Weinstein has on his twitter also...

Sorry if the picture quality is bad--old man with a cell phone!Screenshot_20190221-161458_Twitter

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