MIKE McKENRY
CATCHER
  Born: March 4, 1985
Height: 5′ 10″
Weight: 235
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Drafted: 24th Round, 707th Overall, 2004
How Acquired:
Trade from Red Sox for PTBNL
College: Middle Tennessee State University
Agent: Gavin Kahn

WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES

The Pirates acquired McKenry from the Red Sox for a PTBNL or cash after losing their top three catchers to injury.  Baseball America rated him Colorado’s ninth best prospect before the 2010 season, but his stock dropped some after that and the Rockies traded him to Boston for a minor league pitcher in spring training of 2011.  He was regarded as a capable defensive catcher with a good arm.  During his minor league career he’s thrown out 36% of opposing base stealers, although at the AAA level he’s thrown out only 26%.  At the plate he showed solid power in the lower minors, but his hitting, and especially the power, steadily declined as he moved up in levels, as he seemed to be a classic case of a player lacking in projectability.

2006
A-:  216/303/339, 245 AB, 16 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 22 BB, 49 K, 3-6 SB 

Got off to a slow start in short season ball, showing decent gap power and marginal plate discipline.  He threw out 45% of base stealers.

2007
A:  287/392/539, 408 AB, 35 2B, 1 3B, 22 HR, 66 BB, 84 K, 8-17 SB 

McKenry had a big year in low A, with very good power, and walk and K totals.

2008
A+:  258/360/468, 400 AB, 28 2B, 1 3B, 18 HR, 55 BB, 101 K, 2-6 SB

Fell off some in the high-offense California League, but still had a good year.  He threw out 47% of base stealers.

2009
AA:  279/376/455, 358 AB, 25 2B, 1 3B, 12 HR, 54 BB, 69 K, 2-4 SB 

In AA, McKenry had a similar year to 2008, although his power continued declining.  He reduced his K rate by about a quarter.

2010
AAA:  265/328/424, 347 AB, 23 2B, 1 3B, 10 HR, 32 BB, 77 K, 1-2 SB
MLB:  000/111/000, 8 AB, 1 BB, 5 K 

Had a mediocre season in the extreme high-offense environment at Colorado Springs, with his plate discipline dropping off a lot.  His CS% dropped to 29%.  He committed just two PBs, after committing just one in 2009.  He made a cameo appearance with the Rockies.

2011
AAA (Bos):  274/369/421, 95 AB, 5 2B, 3 HR, 14 BB, 24 K, 1-1 SB
MLB (Pgh):  222/276/322, 180 AB, 12 2B, 2 HR, 14 BB, 49 K, 0-1 SB 

Traded to the Red Sox in spring training.  Prior to the trade to the Pirates, McKenry was having a stronger offensive season than the previous year, but his CS% was down to 19%.  With Ryan Doumit, Chris Snyder and Jason Jaramillo all out due to injuries, McKenry became the Pirates’ regular catcher from mid-June until Doumit returned in August.  The ”Fort” became something of a folk hero, benefiting from the Pirates’ improbable flirtation with contention, which peaked during his first six weeks or so as the catcher.  He also won a game with a dramatic 8th inning HR, his first in the majors, off Carlos Marmol.  In reality, though, he struggled at the plate, striking out in well over a quarter of his ABs.  He was good rather than outstanding defensively.  He’s a good receiver and committed just one passed ball.  His throwing is probably adequate at best; he threw out 25% with a pitching staff that isn’t bad at holding runners (Paul Maholm and Kevin Correia are very good at it, James McDonald is decent, and Jeff Karstens and Charlie Morton are not good).  He didn’t handle plays at the plate especially well.

2012
MLB:  233/320/442, 240 AB, 14 2B, 12 HR, 29 BB, 73 K

McKenry figured to battle Jose Morales in spring training for the backup catching job.  Morales, however, suffered an injury and was just starting to work back from it at the end of camp, so McKenry had no competition for the backup job.  With Rod Barajas as the starter, he played more than most backups, starting 64 games.  He had a surprisingly good year.  He didn’t hit for average, but he drew walks and hit for good power.  His HRs haven’t come against bad pitchers, either.  His 14 career shots have included longballs off Carlos Marmol, Tommy Hanson, Josh Johnson, Johan Santana, Jonathan Papelbon, Raul Valdes, Jake Westbrook, Ryan Vogelsong, Ryan Dempster, and Yovani Gallardo.  So far he doesn’t have a platoon split.  Defensively, he struggled to throw out base stealers, catching only 18%.  He had only two passed balls.  Barajas had a terrible year and the fans eventually became restless to see McKenry start the majority of games, but Clint Hurdle continued to start Barajas most of the time through the end of the season.

2013
MLB:  217/262/348, 115 AB, 6 2B, 3 HR, 5 BB, 24 K

McKenry had a rough season both offensively and defensively.  After hitting two HRs in his third game of the season, in mid-April, he struggled to hit at all.  After May 1, he hit .194 with no HRs.  He also struggled even more with his throwing, catching only 15% of base stealers as teams started running on him more often.  Considering that Russell Martin threw out 40%, it’s hard to blame McKenry’s problems on the pitching staff.  In late July, McKenry injured his left knee sliding into second.  He ultimately needed surgery and missed the rest of the season.

It’s unclear what role McKenry will have in 2014.  Tony Sanchez replaced him as the backup catcher and showed promise following a big season in AAA.  McKenry still has an option left, so the Pirates could send him to AAA as their third catcher.  He’ll probably be eligible for salary arbitration as a “super two,” but shouldn’t get a huge contract.

UPDATE:  The Pirates designated McKenry for assignment after acquiring Chris Stewart just before the deadline for tendering contracts.

STATS
Baseball Reference–Majors
Baseball Reference–Minors
Fangraphs
MLB.com
MiLB.com
CONTRACT INFORMATION
2014: Major league minimum
2013:
Major league minimum
2012: $485,000
PLAYER INFORMATION
Signing Bonus: $135,000
MiLB Debut: 2006
MLB Debut: 9/8/2010
MiLB FA Eligible: Eligible
MLB FA Eligible: 2017
Rule 5 Eligible: N/A
Added to 40-Man: 11/20/2009
Options Remaining: 1 (USED: 2010, 2011)
MLB Service Time: 2.136
TRANSACTIONS
June 6, 2006: Drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 6th round, 198th overall; signed on June 8, 2006.
November 20, 2009: Contract purchased by the Colorado Rockies.
March 29, 2011: Traded by the Colorado Rockies to the Boston Red Sox for P Daniel Turpen.
June 12, 2011: Traded by the Boston Red Sox to the Pittsburgh Pirates for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
December 2, 2013: Designated for assignment by the Pittsburgh Pirates.