The Cubs recently made a very quiet minor league signing: catcher Jordan Procyshen, formerly of the Dodgers organization.
— Baseball-Rosters (@RosterRoundup) February 13, 2020
The soon-to-be 27-year-old backstop is not on your radar, as he spent last year at High-A and AA for the Dodgers, appearing in only 38 games, and looking not so impressive by the stats. That’s generally true of his career before last year, too, where he came up with the Red Sox.
So, then, why even note the signing? Why even *make* the signing? Well, for one general thing, I never want to exclude the possibility that the Cubs simply saw something in Procyshen’s skill set that they liked, and they thought he might still be able to develop into a useable future back-up catcher. Always possible.
But I wanted to throw out another way of thinking about signings like this, which mostly slip by entirely unnoticed.
I don’t know why I never thought of it before, because it’s so obvious: if you were overhauling your player development structure and process – as the Cubs are – might you include in that process a desire specifically to bring in catchers from other organizations who’ve worked in very successful minor league development programs? I mean, after all, you’d want catchers who were also really good at, and really on board with, being a huge part of pitching prospect development.
Consider the Procyshen addition through that lens, and it makes a ton of sense: you’re not only bringing in a quality catcher for your minor league system, but you’re also importing some of the knowledge of the development practices from another very successful organization. I can’t speak specifically to Procyshen, but, given the offensive limitations and his advanced age, it’s a fair guess that he was doing some very good things working with pitchers in the Dodgers’ system, hence him sticking around for so long.
Consider also that the Cubs added Rafelin Lorenzo in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft last year, despite a very limited offensive profile and the fact that he was still fighting his way out of rookie ball in his early 20s, first with the Rays and then with the Pirates. To be sure, there could be all kinds of reasons the Cubs liked bringing Lorenzo into the organization, but is it a coincidence that he originally came up in yet another extremely strong pitching development organization?
Then you’ve got Josh Phegley coming in as the Cubs’ third catcher, who may very well spend a lot of his time at AAA Iowa. He comes over from the A’s, who not only have had a ton of success getting the most out of pitchers you’ve never heard of, but also where the Cubs plucked their new scouting director, Dan Kantrovitz. It’s not inconceivable that there was some thinking there about bringing in an experienced catcher who has some exposure to the A’s development methods at the highest levels.
Anyway, the signing just kind of kicked this stuff into mind, and I figured it was worth contemplating. Maybe I’m totally wrong, and the signings are just signings. But it strikes me as very easy to imagine – just as you import development coaches and instructors with certain experiences – you might also want to do it with minor league catchers.