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We’ve been to a number of camps with our 2020 (HeadFirst, Showball, Stanford, Princeton among others) and we’ve made a few observations about schools recruiting catchers.  For example, at Princeton and Georgetown our 2020 was told that their starting catchers were both walk ons which seems to suggest that this isn’t uncommon.  After many of the showcase events, our son would tell us that all the catchers there felt like they were just there to facilitate recruiting for pitchers.  We’re just about done with the process and feel it’s going to have a very happy ending for our son, but just want to put this out there for other parents of catchers who will go through this process in the future since it can be very expensive and time consuming. For our son, all serious interest came after contacting the coach directly with a video and stats.  Any other thoughts on the best way for a catcher to be recruited?

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I agree with camps and showcases  and only having catchers to catch the pitchers - 

i have see a ton of it - but what are your sons - pop, Arm velo - 

TBH - it’s very hard to for a catcher to get playing time - even being really good if you don’t hit well - I’ve seen it at all levels including pro.  

 

But in college  if he wants to play D1  - which shouldn’t always be the goal , he needs to work on hitting also - most people work on framing and blocking - and forget hitting . You have to to both .

my 2 cents 

I second the camps and showcases comment.

The coaches from the school my catcher ended up at (D3) recruited and invited him to the team based only on video, phone/email conversations, and one visit to campus. The HC's exact statement when my son asked about what they were looking for in a catcher was "We are looking for someone who can defend the field above all else.  Ability to catch, throw and block as well as control the game from a defensive standpoint are paramount." That said, I agree with C2019 about hitting, whether the coach comes right out and says it or not. You see it all the time, especially college and above. Austin Hedges is a great example. By most measurements he is the best defensive catcher in all of baseball but his 2019 batting average is below .200 currently and he seems to have planed out to a level that most analysts think he will not end up an everyday catcher if something doesn't dramatically change with his offense.

tequila posted:

I second the camps and showcases comment.

The coaches from the school my catcher ended up at (D3) recruited and invited him to the team based only on video, phone/email conversations, and one visit to campus. The HC's exact statement when my son asked about what they were looking for in a catcher was "We are looking for someone who can defend the field above all else.  Ability to catch, throw and block as well as control the game from a defensive standpoint are paramount." That said, I agree with C2019 about hitting, whether the coach comes right out and says it or not. You see it all the time, especially college and above. Austin Hedges is a great example. By most measurements he is the best defensive catcher in all of baseball but his 2019 batting average is below .200 currently and he seems to have planed out to a level that most analysts think he will not end up an everyday catcher if something doesn't dramatically change with his offense.

Also - my son was recruited by a top 10 D1 Juco  - one of Top jucos in midwest - 

when they contacted him . They wanted for him to come down for a visit . We asked does he need to come to camp  Or bring his gear ? Coach said no , we have lots of video on him already and he’s our guy . Granted he had interest from D1s but we felt that Juco was the route for him.  Also Note - just cause you go to Juco doesnt  mean you cant redshirt - my nephew did that and it wasn’t fun for him . 

I would also say be honest with yourself - and don’t be caught up with false hope that rankings give .  My son committed Nov of his SR year .  I personally know top 10 kids who sat there 1st year at d1 or ended up transferring to a Juco 

Thanks for the responses.  My son's pop time is 1.93 and Exit Velocity is 92.  On his varsity team, he bats fourth.  Hitting is actually his strong suit.  I forgot to mention that two of the Ivies told him that he's a good catcher and that if he can get admitted on his own they'd love to have him on the team.  That combined with what one of the Georgetown coaches told him made him start to think that coaches often rely on a walk on to fill that role. It looks like he's going HA D3 and he's pretty happy at this point so it's all good.  I just wish we'd known what we know now at the beginning of the summer and saved ourselves some money. (On a brighter note, he got to see the country literally from coast to coast)!

The issue I see with so many catchers trying to get recruited is their focus on showing off great receiving, framing and blocking skills. Honestly, none of that matters to a college coach if you can't hit and throw at least as well as the rest of his starters. My advice to high school catchers would be to put hitting first and foremost in your recruiting efforts. Where do you fit as a college hitter? Don't go to a college's camp unless you can honestly see yourself making that team as the DH (assuming you're not just going for fun or the experience). Otherwise you're paying for the privilege of being a bullpen catcher for the weekend.

Of course, my advice is for guys that are dead set on starting. I know lots of college catchers who don't get to play much, but they're great teammates and love being a part of the team.

Good input. My son graduated HS in 2017 and is happily no longer playing baseball and is a junior at the big D1 of his choice (and my Alma Mater). He was the wire-to-wire hit leader of his NoVA HS (not a powerhouse by a longshot) and for doubles as a senior. He always focused on controlling the game defensively, getting the most out of his pitchers, and not letting anything get by him. And hitting gaps. He also ran a 6.95 60. Nobody cared.

If he wanted to and could somehow do it all over again, he should have focused on bat exit velo and pop time. And that's about it.

I always thought being a C was one of the better positions to play to make it to the next level, as I truly value the position.  After seeing many C struggle getting good offers, I realized it was one of the worst.

  • At best, there's one C in a recruiting class.  Unlike SS and CF, where there's multiple and they have positional flexibility
  • Due to the physical characteristics of most C, many cannot play multiple positions
  • If you're a defensive specialist, with a light bat, you won't see any PT unless you're significantly better than the other 3/4 C on the team
  • If you do make it, you may have to wait until your Jr/Sr season due to the above points

 

My 2018 played with a C who was one of, if not THE best baseball player he has ever played with. Best in State senior year. 1.75 pop. 84 C throwing velo(90 off the mound). SWitch hitter with exit velo around 100 mph from both sides. 6.9/60. 

   Was thrilled to go to his dream school, a top 25 D1. First year he didn't even see the field, and he is transferring to a JUCO. 

   Some of the kids my 2018 played were overrated, and we all knew it. Not this kid...he not only has the stats, but is a gamer. Kind of shocked at how things transpired. 

Last edited by 57special

In my son's first year at Princeton, the catcher was all-Ivy and drafted. His back-up (a freshman like my son) was the son of an Assistant GM (now a manager). He started virtually every game the following 3 years and signed after graduating. The next catcher was the son of a famous governor who worked himself into the starting catcher his senior year; and I mean this kid worked, and worked, and worked. I believe the next one was a walk-on - that rare bird the coach never stops talking about (seemingly making the obvious exception seem like the rule).

(The Princeton HC is a former MLB catcher; the only way he doesn't have a catcher who is recruited is if he really really missed on a guy who accepted elsewhere.)

A word on most IVY teams: because rosters aren't maxed out (each team has roughly 28 recruited [Likely Letter] players), every year will bring a couple of players who would be thought of as recruited walkons (i.e., got through admissions on their own). My observation at Princeton is that these walkons are amazingly smart, get their chances in the early part of every season, are treated the exact same as the recruited players by the coach and the team, and generally don't see much playing time past the start of every season - because most were not quite as good as the recruits.

And, consistent with what others have observed about catchers (and other position players): you hit, you play. Princeton catchers all could hit; none could throw out anyone, call a game (catchers at P call their own game), frame pitches, or block breaking balls (tough if the "magic pitch" is, e.g., a back foot slider).

Catchers are the most important position on the field; every blocked ball with a runner on third is equal to an RBI, every runner thrown out is equal to a base hit. You'd think coaches would recognize that. Alas. . . . . .

Ah, a subject I could go on and on about...

But to address the OP specifically:

1. Georgetown has a 2020 catcher commit already; they are not likely to commit a second one.  You HAVE to look at current rosters and rising class commits and even then you may not have all the info you need (transfers, commits not listed, etc.).

2. Princeton is mostly done with their 2020 class and now have to recruit their primary needs for any remaining slots they may have. And that's where academic index (AI) comes in...  If they have two slots remaining and they need a pitcher first and catcher second, they will take the best pitcher they can even if his AI is low.  But if it's low then they will have to find a REALLY smart catcher to offset that pitcher's AI.

I definitely agree the catcher position IS tough for all the reasons others have posted. It has been a tough journey but we've learned a lot along the way. The biggest take-away I can share is recruiting is mostly based on need and timing. They don't often line up for those being recruited!

That is an interesting story! Pretty amazing guy.  I’ll have my son read the book.

On a separate note, my son has been analyzing all the rosters and commits until I think he has them about memorized.  Interestingly, when he arrived at the Georgetown camp they specifically told the catchers that although they recruited a 2020 catcher, they were recruiting him strictly for his bat and not to assume that they wouldn’t take another catcher.  If nothing else, seems to confirm what everyone says above about hitting in the mix.

There are some comments about C not being a desirable position with regard to recruiting interest.  That has not been my experience nor does it match up with prevailing train of thought in my circles.  

Of course, P is king.  Teams use many over the course of the year, it is the most impactful position and injuries happen.  After that, SS's who can hit win out because they generally have a strong defensive tool set that can be moved just about anywhere else in the infield or outfield if there is a guy or two in front of him.  After that, a catcher that can hit holds the most value.  Most college teams will split catching duties, so two C's get significant innings, particularly those levels/conferences that play weekend double headers.  And, catchers take the most beating.  So most colleges strive to be 3 deep in solid C's.  OF has three spots but that advantage is negated by the fact that so many will move their 2nd or 3rd string SS's to OF spots or they will try to hide a power bat in a corner OF position.  Yes, a true burner CF who can hit is pretty close to C's with recruiting cache.   But the order, IMO, is P, SS, C, CF and everyone else, with some exception to that true power bat, whatever position he can play.

In all the years I was around HS kids being recruited, this is the way it played out.  So, chin up, C's 

Last edited by cabbagedad

I don't believe a solid college program would rely on a walk-on to fill their catcher position.  If your son is hearing "get admitted on his own" then the Ivy's already have their catcher recruited.  Sometimes coaches won't recruit a catcher at all if they are solid in the position and have more pressing needs elsewhere (my son heard this from several schools).

My observations from my son's recruiting journey (2019), which included Ivy's, was that coaches looked for catchers with tools who could hit.  The Ivy's were no different than other D1 schools.  The coaches he was recruited by mentioned they liked size, athleticism (speed, agility, quickness behind the plate), assertiveness/aggressiveness behind the plate - i.e., fielding bunts, back-picks, etc (game footage was very helpful in this regard), and obviously a strong arm and good catching skills... but I don't think we wouldn't have had those conversations if they didn't like his bat.  However, it's difficult for a coach to judge the hit tool from video or a camp setting.  They can get some metrics and see if they like the mechanics, but they need to see him hit against good pitching.  If they haven't seen your son play this may explain their reluctance to pull the trigger on an offer.  My son was recruited solely from WWBA, Jupiter and a few other events (preceded by emailed video to get on the coaches player watch list).  I think his performance at these events made the difference.  He didn't do any showcases.

My 2015 was recruited catcher and would agree with the comment above that most teams will not rely on a walk-on.  If you are a good hitting catcher you will get recruited.  Most schools will use 2 catcher where each will split between catching duty and DH.  For the HA D1 ( Patriot, Ivy etc) where they play Sat/Sun dbl headers it helps to have 2 catchers.  

MY 2015 hit well in a PG tournament and a showcase.  Primary position was catcher with the ability to also play 1B.  Got D1, D2 & D3 attention with offers with the idea of competing for catching, 1st or DH.  I believe in this order - hitting, receiving, runner control is what will get a catcher recruited.

I've noticed much of the same with catcher recruiting, but I'd add that part of the country you live in is a huge challenge for D1 level catcher recruiting.  In the NW, there are very few D1 schools compared to other parts of the country, so many catcher recruits from the NW that end up going to the D1 schools in the NW end up either being a bullpen guy, switching to another position if they were recruited for speed/bat, or not seeing significant playtime until junior year.  Those that are recruited to start as freshmen, like at OSU-Adley Rutschman, start for the entire time they are there.  So, OSU didn't need a starting catcher from the class of 2016-2018.  (Don't forget these NW D1 schools also recruit nationally.)  To get to a D1 school as a NW kid, you either need to be pretty special to begin with, have connections that can help you get recruited somewhere, or go JUCO.  (Did I mention the D2, D3 options are also not plentiful?) As if the local D1 schools aren't competitive enough, try competing for a spot as a catcher on a D1 school in some West coast D1, say in California where there's more D1 options........I assume you can see the problems with that scenario.

Isn't working on framing a waste of time if you want to get recruited for college? Sure it is the most important catcher skill but at the amateur level it is not quantifiable. Now it shouldn't look totally bad where your glove drifts a foot after catching the ball but I would assume at the amateur level it is more important you have a big arm and of course that you are decent with the bat. The college recruiters don't have pitch fx so they can't measure framing anyway even though of course it is extremely important.

Keep in mind I'm no catching expert, was just thinking a little.

And regarding the hitting. Mlb teams tolerate mediocre hitting at C but it can't be totally terrible (like the mentioned hedges) so you still need to be able to hit 250 with a few bombs even as a great defensive catcher. 

Due to sabermetrics the offensive requirements for catching are lower now (because sabermetrics said framing above all) and they are lese tolerant for mashing catchers with bad gloves than 10 years ago (guys like vmart, Santana napoli or schwarber don't catch anymore) but still there needs to be a baseline competence (say 650 ops). Can't be a  zero with the bat at any position.

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