GRANT KOCH, CATCHER
|Born: February 5, 1997
Height: 6′ 0″
Drafted: 5th Round, 144th Overall, 2018
How Acquired: Draft
College: University of Arkansas
WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE
|Going into the 2018 season, Koch (pronounced like Cook) had a chance to go in the first two rounds of the draft. As a sophomore he hit 264/358/498, with 13 home runs, then led the US collegiate national team with a 372/500/535 line. As a junior, though, he dropped off to 257/376/415 and seven home runs. The biggest part of his offense is his power, which comes more from strength than bat speed. MLB.com, which ranked him 131st overall in the draft, said he crushes pitches pull side, but can be vulnerable on the outer half of the plate. Baseball America, which rated him 128th, also said he struggled with being pitched away in 2018. BA believes he has the potential for 15 homers as a regular, and MLB.com gave him average future power.
According to the scouting reports, Koch in the year before the draft improved his receiving and framing, while improving his technique enough to allow his average but accurate arm to play up. During his first season, though, he didn’t appear to move well in blocking pitches. Koch’s signing was delayed by the College World Series, as Arkansas made it to the last game. He signed for exactly the slot value.
The delay due to the CWS meant that Koch didn’t join Morgantown until a week into July. Once he did, he became the primary catcher. Other than a good walk rate, Koch showed very little at the plate. He threw out 28% of base stealers.
The Pirates sent Koch to Greensboro, which shouldn’t have been a tough assignment for a player drafted in the fifth round out of college. He was nevertheless overmatched at the plate. His numbers would have looked even worse, but he had a three-homer game near the end of the season, followed by another longball the next day. Koch doesn’t swing and miss a great deal, but he doesn’t seem to get much loft or hit the ball with much authority. Except for that one game, he didn’t improve over the course of the season; in fact, he batted just .164 from July 1 through the end of the season. His defense still needs work, especially his throwing. He caught only 18% of base stealers.
Koch opened the season as the starting catcher at Greensboro. He continued to struggle at the plate, with a higher K rate than the previous year. His main offensive contribution was power and that happened because of the Grasshoppers’ home park. Koch had eight home runs and a .515 slugging average at home. On the road, he hit one home run and slugged .215. In mid-August, the Pirates moved Koch up to Altoona to make way for Henry Davis. He played part-time there and struggled still more. Against the running game, Koch did reasonably well, throwing out 25% at Greensboro.
Koch served as an organizational catcher, filling in mostly at Bradenton. He threw out only 12% of opposing base stealers.
The Pirates drafted Koch as an offense-oriented catcher, but the offense hasn’t shown up. Neal Huntington’s front office drafted a lot of catchers and just couldn’t seem to find any who could hit professional pitching.
|2023: Minor league contract
|Signing Bonus: $364,600
MiLB Debut: 2018
MiLB FA Eligible: 2024
MLB FA Eligible:
Rule 5 Eligible: 2021
Added to 40-Man:
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 0.000
|June 5, 2018: Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 5th round, 144th overall pick; signed on July 2.|