Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Josmil Pinto, catcher

Trevor Plouffe celebrates Tuesday's win
with catcher Josmil Pinto.
Josmil Pinto can hit.

Can Josmil Pinto catch?

This has long been the issue for the 25-year-old Venezuelan. Managers aren't opposed to good-hitting catchers, of course, but they tend to prefer the backstops who can help get the pitcher through the game. Pinto's ability to do that -- pitch calling, receiving, throwing -- is not well-regarded. 

He was behind the plate Tuesday night, working with Kyle Gibson. Gibson, as we know, is a sinker-slider guy whose sinker, when it's on, moves a lot and when it's off is not particularly well commanded. Which adds up to, he's not a particularly easy pitcher to catch. 

And sure enough, Gibson was charged with a wild pitch. Pinto has now caught 218 innings this year. In that time, there have been four passed balls and 10 wild pitches. 0.58 per nine innings. This is a rather high rate; in comparison, Kurt Suzuki has been involved in three passed balls and 31 wild pitches in 991.2 innings, just under 0.31 per nine innings.

Tuesday's wild pitch was a rather goofy play; A third strike that Pinto didn't catch cleanly and then didn't throw to first to complete the out. Since the ball bounced before reaching the catcher, the scorer charged it to Gibson, but the outcome was clearly Pinto's fault.

For the season, Pinto has a donut on base stealers: He's 0-for-19. The Diamondbacks didn't attempt a steal Tuesday night, but Gibson did pick off a runner.

One of the criticisms of Pinto as a receiver has been that he moves around too much, not presenting a stable target (particularly with the glove) for the pitcher. That didn't seem to be an issue Tuesday night to my eyes, and certainly the Twins pitchers weren't struggling to get pitches called strikes.

It was but one game, and a decidedly amateur set of eyes watching Pinto during it, but he didn't look terrible behind the plate Tuesday night. But then, I want to have hope that he can be a useful catcher. I'm not at all confident that the Twins think that's possible. The thing is, they don't seem to have any other idea for him.

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