Saluki catchers growing into full responsibilities

Saluki catchers growing into full responsibilities

By Thomas Donley, @TDonleyDE

With a whole pitching staff to become familiar with and no veteran catcher to help, joining a new baseball team as a catcher can be overwhelming.

That was the case for SIU catchers Nick Hutchins and Taylor Martin when they joined the Salukis as a freshman and transfer junior in 2015. Now, with a year of experience with most of the pitchers, their responsibilities have expanded.

Pitching coach P.J. Finigan called pitches from the dugout last season to lessen the responsibilities on Hutchins and Martin, flashing them signals corresponding to a chart on a wristband. This year, they have bypassed that step and put down their own signs.


“I feel like it gives us a better relationship with the pitchers,” Hutchins said. “We came in last year and we didn’t really have that relationship right away. Coach Finigan’s really helped us a lot, letting us know what to say when we go out to the mound to have positive effects and what to look for in guys’ swings.”

Finigan said having Hutchins and Martin calling pitches without peering into the dugout for his sign allows him to do more as a coach.

“I can look ahead a little bit more,” Finigan said. “I can focus on what’s going on in the game. It allows me to break down the hitters a little bit more, and that way I can help [the pitchers] adjust game plans between innings a lot more than I could last year.”

The two catchers now have a year of experience catching most of the pitchers on the Saluki staff. Newcomer Joey Marciano said Hutchins and Martin have learned his repertoire as well.

“Whatever they’ve been throwing down, I have no problem throwing it,” said the transfer junior left-handed starter. “They know me pretty well as a pitcher, so pretty much whatever they call, I’m going to throw.”

Hutchins has caught 55 innings on the season. In those innings, Saluki pitchers have posted a 2.62 earned run average and a 1.4/1 strikeout to walk ratio.

In 43 innings with Martin behind the plate, pitchers have a 5.02 ERA and strike out 2.8 batters for every man they walk.


“It’s benefitted the catching and pitching staff as a whole,” Martin said. “It makes the game go a lot quicker. It’s a lot more smooth, rather than having to pick up signs in between each pitch.” 

Thomas Donley can be reached at [email protected] or at 618-538-3307.