This caught our eye in Tom Singer’s “Cranks & Clunks” post:
“Carlos Paulino: Wasn’t even in Kissimmee. But the Bucs love his arm. Just how deep that love is was hinted by the reassignment to Minor League camp of Tony Sanchez. Paulino will get some more looks to determine whether he might rank as the top midseason callup candidate.”
First off, that assessment should be taken with a grain of salt. It’s unlikely that Paulino would become the “top midseason callup candidate” since he A) has never played above A-ball, B) has never seen sustained offensive success, and C) the Pirates are rather meticulous with their prospects. Plus, Sanchez’s reassignment doesn’t mean the Pirates think higher of Paulino. There’s a good chance Sanchez is back in minor league camp for a reason, like seeing more at-bats or getting work with more of the minor league pitchers. This piece in Saturday’s Post-Gazette offers another explanation, talking about the reassignments of Sanchez and Andy Oliver:
But since both are on the 40-man roster and since it was apparent neither would make the opening-day roster, the Pirates limited their risk by optioning them to the minor leagues.
Had either stayed on the roster past Friday and had an injury that would cause them to go on the disabled list on opening day, it would have affected their major league service time, which impacts arbitration eligibility and years of control.
“It’s probably the one drawback of them being on the rosters,” Huntington said.
“It kind of forces our hand a little bit. We’d love to keep those two guys in camp a little longer.”
Paulino being the favorite for a callup doesn’t seem like an accurate label just yet, but it is interesting to see the club with high praise of him. So, who is this guy? Here’s a look…
Weight: 170 lbs.
Career offensive stats:
His offense in the minors has not been something to get excited about. Paulino hit .299/.351/.439 as a 21 year old in 2011, but played for High-A Bradenton again last season. In his second year with the Marauders, he showed an offensive decline. He had five fewer hits in 32 more at-bats, and posted a .681 OPS, which was down from .790 in 2011. Coming to the organization a few years back, he was known as a defense-first catcher.
Career defensive stats:
It’s interesting to see him and his apparently tremendous arm throw out just 22% of base stealers in 2012. But as Pirates Prospects points out on Paulino’s player page, “…a lot of that probably had to do with the pitchers, as the Pirates don’t want their pitching prospects focusing much on baserunners.” The Bucs could certainly use a strong arm behind the dish, especially after last year’s embarrassment.
Going back to Singer’s comment, there shouldn’t be much to look in to. We’ve never seen Paulino play, but it’s tough to award him a callup based on a couple of weeks of spring training. Also, just because Tony Sanchez was sent down before him should not draw comparisons between skill level. Only the upper Pirates’ brass knows the particular rhyme or reason behind some of their moves. Charlie Wilmoth of Bucs Dugout appropriately explained on Friday how March is a tough month for news:
“We can speculate about why, say, the Pirates sent down Jerry Sands so early in camp, but ultimately, we don’t have any idea what that means, if it means anything. And a large percentage of the arguments we could even potentially have this time of year (that is, that are borne out of the events of the day, and not that we just make up arbitrarily) are arguments that we shouldn’t even be having, and probably wouldn’t have any other time of year.”
Singer says Paulino could be a “top midseason callup candidate,” while his stats and inexperience suggest he needs much more time in the minors. He should get playing time at Class AA Altoona; we’ll be keeping tabs on his progression throughout the season.