After an injury-plagued 2013 season during which Wyatt Mathisen struggled both at and behind the plate, the Pirates have decided to move the 2012 second-round pick to third base for the 2014 season.
Mathisen, the Pirates' No. 15 prospect, was drafted for his bat and his athleticism. Mathisen actually played more shortstop in high school than catcher, but he had the skill set to develop as a backstop, or so the Bucs hoped.
The Pirates assigned Mathisen somewhat aggressively to full-season West Virginia to start the 2013 season, where shoulder issues along with trying to catch arms like Tyler Glasnow and Clay Holmes, hampered his development. Mathisen managed just 167 at-bats, finishing with a .228/.323/.251 line.
The move to the hot corner allows for two things. Mathisen bounced back with a strong performance at the instructional league last fall, and by removing the pressures of learning the nuances of catching, he can focus on continuing to develop his offensive game. It also will make it easier for him to get reps at the plate, given the presence of 2013 first-round pick, and catcher, Reese McGuire on the West Virginia roster this year.
"We are moving him to third base right now in order to get him everyday at-bats under the lights," Pirates assistant general manager Kyle Stark said. "Our focus here is getting him consistent at-bats. Otherwise, he would be getting two days per week behind McGuire or staying in extended spring [camp]. This should get him going, and we'll continue to evaluate where his best position is."
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com and writes a blog, B3. Follow @JonathanMayoB3 on Twitter.