Catcher Conversion Revisited

You don't hear or read about it much but the major league catching position is about to change. Automated balls and strikes will eliminate the art of deception referred to as pitch-framing. Baseball will no longer be a source of income for hit-challenged backstops.

The inevitable conversion to robo-control of the strike zone suffered a delay due to the cancelled minor league season in 2020. Whereas previous trials were performed only in the Carolina League and at the Salt River facility during the 2019 Arizona Fall League, the robot was scheduled for the Florida State League last season.

The change, likely no more than two years away, will have an impact similar to the designated hitter. Catching will focus on blocking and throwing, skills that can be developed much more readily/easily than framing. Hit-challenged catchers will no longer have baseball as an employment option.

I would like to see the Marlins get ahead of this impending curve. About a month ago, I wrote about the potential of converting big-arm, big stick, big hustle guys in the Marlin system into catchers. That idea came from observing what former-Marlin Austin Nola was able to achieve in the team's minor league system. Two that I specifically mentioned were Peyton Burdick and Griffin Conine. I'm certain many others can be identified. Taking that concept further, why not start targeting big hit/weak glove catching prospects in the draft and international market?

Catching is and always has been a less-than-desirable position for most players. Let's face it, it requires a true bulldog mentality. However, if donning the tools of ignorance provides a ticket to the Big Show that might not be available otherwise, there are gamers that will go for it.

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