Exactly What You Want to Hear from a Young Pitcher Talking About His Catcher

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Exactly What You Want to Hear from a Young Pitcher Talking About His Catcher

Chicago Cubs

Although developing young pitchers at the big league level was not necessarily the singular thing the Chicago Cubs were looking for when assembling their catching tandem this season, it had to be pretty high on the list.

Sure, the Cubs want to maximize the results of the pitchers – all the pitchers – this year, and that’s the primary goal of the catchers and the run-prevention staff. But the Cubs know they have a wave of younger, less experienced arms arriving, and the catcher can be a critical element of that development process, for this season AND for these pitchers’ entire careers. Getting the right catchers in place this offseason, then, was all the more important to the Cubs at this moment in time.

To that end, I was really struck by a Hayden Wesneski quote at the Sun-Times about catcher Yan Gomes.

“[Gomes] is really good at what he does,” Wesneski said in a piece ostensibly about Wesneski’s own successes in the rotation competition. “He doesn’t get enough credit for how good he is, calling a game and controlling it. He treats you as if you’re the only pitcher he’s worked with. I see him work with other guys. It’s the same way. It’s incredible. I see why he’s been around for so long. He’s really good at his job.”

Really knows how to make a guy feel special.

I kid, but only slightly. Gomes’ mission, at all times, is to make his pitchers better. To help them succeed. To get the most out of them on any given day. What Wesneski said is EXACTLY what you would want to hear from a rookie pitcher, talking about a veteran catcher. It matters to Wesneski’s development.

More from Wesneski at the Sun-Times, this time on Tucker Barnhart. When Wesneski went out for his first bullpen this spring with Barnhart, the rookie was pleasantly surprised to learn that Barnhart already knew all about Wesneski’s arsenal, approach, delivery, etc.

“It blew me away to think that the first bullpen I threw in spring, he already knew all about me,” Wesneski told the Sun-Times, “before even meeting the guy.”

Barnhart had gone deep enough on the pre-spring work that he already knew what to expect in an initial bullpen session from a rookie starting pitcher who, at that time, Barnhart wouldn’t have known would make the roster. Barnhart wanted to be as prepared as possible to hit the ground running, and start learning what to look for from each starting pitcher, how to best make adjustments in-game, and how to support the pitcher generally.

That, like what you hear about Gomes, is exactly what you would want to see from a new catcher coming into the organization. A catcher on whom the Cubs will be relying specifically for working with the pitchers, including the development of young arms like Wesneski. This is the bet the Cubs have made on the catching position. Whether they are right or wrong will take time to discern, but we can tell so far that at least Barnhart (and Gomes) is DOING the right things.

Bonus in that Sun-Times piece, by the way? Things about Wesneski from Barnhart. Also the kinds of things you would definitely want to hear, and let’s just say Barnhart is a fan. Check it out.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.