Tag Archives: catching

Catching 101

My entire life I have been a catcher and almost my entire life I have been doing it wrong.  Growing up the only things I cared about were backhanding spiked fastballs and throwing out runners, basically I wanted to be a white Yadier Molina.  I even contemplated a neck tattoo for a while.  Anyway, I was ignoring the most fundamental aspect of catching.  Get out a piece of paper and pen to write down what I am about to tell you because this is groundbreaking stuff.  Coaches charge hundreds and thousands of dollars for training and teaching what I am about to share for free.  Are you ready?  To be a good catcher you have to CATCH THE BASEBALL.  I know its crazy.  Who would of thought a catcher would have to be able to catch?  Yea a 1.8 pop time is like bragging you throw 96 or have a 300lb bench press.  But coaches want catchers who can catch.  You can make it all the way to the big leagues with only the ability to catch and not being able to hit your way out of a wet paper bag, just look at almost every backup big league catcher.  Organizations need guys who can handle the 17 year old Dominican who throws 103mph during a flat ground with no idea where its going and there are only a handful out there.  By being that guy you will continue to move up the ranks and play baseball at a high level.

One of the best receivers in the game hands down is Jose Molina.  My favorite thing about Jose is how he catches an inside fastball running off the plate.  He anticipates where the pitch will end up, something I have already talked about, and beats the pitch to the spot, extends through the pitch, and presents it still in the strike zone (I know this video isn’t an inside fastball running off the plate but you get the idea).  This is different than “framing” a pitch which is an awful term I wish was banned from baseball.  The difference is that imagine catching the pitch at two points, point A and point B.  At point A the pitch is still in the zone and at point B the pitch has ran off the plate, where do you want to catch it?  I hope all of you said point A, if not I don’t think you’ll get picked up by any big league teams to catch their Dominicans anytime soon.  Nevertheless learn to properly catch and receive pitches.  It is by far the most important part of the job and is the number one thing college coaches are looking for.

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Anticipation and Catching

I know in high school it seems like everyone you talk to throws 87-90, but in reality they’re lucky if they throw 82.  When you make the jump to college and everyone is throwing 87-90 you realize wow this is a little different trying to catch, but still not difficult if you have decent hand eye coordination and motor skills.  But once you catch a guy throwing 94+ with arm side run and sink you realize you need to be on a whole other level to catch them effectively.  What’s the secret?  How do big leaguers catch Aroldis Chapman throwing over 100 and make it look like they’re having a picnic behind the plate?  The secret is anticipation.

One of my biggest pet peeves is watching skittish catchers.  Everyone knows what I’m talking about.  The guys that flinch just before every pitch comes in.  It’s like they don’t know what pitch is coming.  It looks like they’re getting crossed up every pitch.  But why?  Are you not calling the pitches?  You should know your pitcher and how all his pitches move so what’s the problem?

By anticipating the pitch you can react before the pitcher even releases the baseball.  For example, if your pitcher has a wipe out slider and its an 0-2 count he is probably going to bounce it.  Don’t be surprised.  Be in a good position to block the baseball.  If you call for a two seam fastball beat the pitch to the spot and work it back over the plate, don’t let the force of impact carry your glove off the plate.  Little things like this make you look better behind the plate which in turn gets you more confidence from the pitching staff, your coach, and the umpire thus getting you more strike calls.