In George We Trust
A(nother) blog about the most storied franchise in sports
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Prospect Profile: PJ Pilittere
Name: Peter John Pilittere
Position: C
Vitals: 6'0", 205 lbs
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Born: November 23, 1981
Hometown: Walnut, California
Drafted: 13th round (399th overall) in 2004 (Yankees 15th selection)

Background: Pilittere grew up rooting for the cross-town Mets while idolizing current Angels manager Mike Scioscia, whose hard-nosed style has evidently influenced Pilittere. Drafted as a college senior, Pilittere started his Cal State Fullerton career buried behind incumbent Titan catchers Brett Kay (now a Mets farmhand) and Lachlan Thorburn (out of baseball) on the depth chart. During the 2001 season, Kay broke his hand and Lachlan played himself out of the starting spot, paving the way for Pilittere to take over regular catching duties. Pilittere never looked back and assumed both first string catcher duties and the cleanup spot for the remainder of his amateur career; although he split time between catcher, first base, and DH his senior year in deference to current A's prospect Kurt Suzuki. Pilittere shined during the Titans unexpected run to the College World Series crown in 2004, earning a spot on the CWS All-Tournament team after batting .500 with a double, triple, homerun and 3 RBI in 4 games at Omaha.

Strengths: At this point, Pilittere has good power to the gaps (17 doubles in 87 pro games) and decent strike zone judgment (1.41 K/BB in college, 2.33 as a pro but 1.41 in 2005). He crowds the plate from the right side, and subsequently has a penchant for getting hit (11 pro HBP after 19 at Fullerton). His greatest strength lies in his ability to work with pitchers (he lived with 7 Titan pitchers while at Fullerton), as he led the short season State Island pitching staff to a league best 2.85 team ERA on the way to the NY-Penn League Title. He's a good defender behind the plate, but he'll never win any Gold Gloves.

Weaknesses: Pilittere has never been much of a clutch hitter, evidenced by his .275 BA with RISP against a .485 BA with no one on in college. His adjustment to wood bats hasn't been pretty, as he's hit only .235-.294-.333-.627 since turning pro. Like most catchers, he isn't very fast, but he won't clog the bases. His homerun power is almost nonexistent as he's hit only 13 HR in 281 games since 2001 (although he hit 4 in 53 games last year).

Comparison: Comparing the stats of pitcher-first catchers isn't the easiest thing to do, but here's how Pilittere's short season stats compare to the big league's most prominent pitcher-first catcher when he was playing in the NY-Penn League:

Brad Ausmus.260.349.314.6621.36

The numbers aren't very impressive, but otherwise there would be nothing to look at. As far as I know there isn't a resource to find minor league stats like catcher's ERA, etc., otherwise I would have made a more appropriate comparison.

Outlook: Pilittere is at least 2 years away from the majors, possibly more if his bat is slow to develop, making his potential Bronx ETA somewhere around 2009. The Yankees crop of catching prospects is pretty weak, with only Omir Santos and the Rojas-es (Tommy and Irwill, no relation) ahead of him on the depth chart amongst prospects. Unless he shows a marked improvement with his bat, Pilittere will never be anything more than a defense first backup catcher in the John Flaherty/Paul Bako mold. After an encore at short season Staten Island that saw him improve his OPS almost 200 points (up to .701 in 2005 from .516 in 2004), the Yankees will likely challenge Pilittere and send him to Low-A Charleston in 2006. If he makes it to the majors, it'll be his uncanny ability to handle pitchers that will get him there.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Besides from being a great kid,P.J is a born leader. I followed him at Staten Island and he was like a coach on the field. His team-mates look to him for inspiration and he ALWAYS provides it! I don't know if it translates to a big league career but I will never count out a kid with a heart like P.J's.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
P.J. will show you all what he is made of and he will do it with his own hard-work, drive and desire to succeed. No one works harder than this kid and no one is a better teammate and that is a fact. He is a leader and he is so vital to every team that he has been apart of. His heart and passion for the game alone will move him faster than people think. He has talent and he is willing to work harder than over half the guys in the lead to be the starter behind that dish and his bats have already come around.....never count him out!

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Had a great year at Tampa and really did well in the AZ fall league and has been invited to Big League S T

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