Schwind adjusts to life behind the dish

Pirates' minor-league catcher embraces foreign position

BRADENTON, Fla. – Jonathan Schwind is proving that he can catch any curveball, even those that are thrown off the field.

The Pittsburgh Pirates selected Schwind in the 41st round of the 2011 draft as a catcher despite never having played the position.

Jon Schwind
Jon Schwind (Jon-Schwind-Pirates)

“I had never caught before in high school or in college. I played shortstop, a little centre field, and some third base,” he said. “When they drafted me I was on the board as a catcher.”

Taken as a junior, the former Marist College Red Fox had played numerous positions, but none were more difficult than being a catcher. It was a challenge that he met and appreciated.

“I really enjoyed it,” he said. “I wish I was a catcher when I was younger because you see the game in a whole different way and you’re involved in every play.”

Although Schwind liked the new experience, he quickly learned that being a catcher was much more demanding than other positions.

“The days for catchers aren’t similar to other position players. You don’t get as many at-bats,” the 23-year-old said after a spring training workout at Pirate City. “A lot of the time is spent catching bullpens, or live batting practice, and simulation games.”

Schwind says that because catchers are so busy in the off-season, the regular season slows down for him and ensures that he is always prepared. Nevertheless, playing a new position as complicated as his can take a toll on anyone.

“It’s a grind. It’s tough on your body but it’s also tough mentally,” Schwind said. “You have to prepare everyday, and you have to know your body well enough.”

The backstop broke his arm in 2012 but bounced back nicely last season with two home runs, 25 RBI and 11 stolen bases for the West Virginia Power.

The New York native is a long way from home, but he can always count on his family and friends to keep him in good spirits and focused on the big picture.

“I’m fortunate to be from a very small town, but a very supportive town,” he said. “I have three older brothers, and my fiancée; they’re all super supportive.”

The encouragement he has received throughout his career has kept him motivated and is a constant reminder of what he’s playing for.

“They know this is the path I’ve chosen to take, and I’m going to do whatever I can to reach my ultimate goal, which is to play in the big leagues.”