Drafted by the Mariners in the second round of the 2012 draft, Joe DeCarlo was originally drafted as a third baseman and played that position up until last season. After an early-season slump in 2016, DeCarlo came back during that season and became Bakersfield Blaze’s best hitter down the stretch. Because of his tenacity, the Mariners thought he would be a good fit at catcher and asked him if he would be interested in changing positions. Last season in Spring training began DeCarlo’s transformation from playing third base to catching.
Were you open to changing positions?
They asked if I wanted to, and I had a choice. I had an opportunity to play a different position and jumped on it.
What was the learning curve like for you?
I didn’t grasp it quickly and had to learn the whole thing from receiving, blocking, calling pitches and calling the game with the pitching staff. A few things came quickly, and I worked my tail off. I’m still working hard.
What do you do well?
I’m a pretty humble guy, but I feel like I work with the staff well and get along with them well.
What do you like about catching?
I like the strategy. It is a lot of fun to try and get guys out and working with the pitchers and pitching coach to execute the game strategy. You manage and win games as a catcher.
How do you prepare for the games and the hitters?
Before the series we get a scouting report and know who does well and who doesn’t. The game never lies. You also have to read swings and give suggestions to the pitchers. We have a game plan every game which the catcher, pitchers and pitching coach talk about.
What was different physically for you moving from third base to catcher?
I drink more water than I did when I played third base. At first, it was an uncomfortable position but you get used to it. It is also more taxing.
Are you glad you moved to catcher?
My understanding is what separates us and the next level is from the neck up. How good you are mentally takes you to the next level, how well you prepare and how you take the good with the bad. A positive mindset is the separator. Catchers are like that and are the on-the-field game managers and help the pitching staff.
Do you have relationships with the umpires?
We communicate with them when we need to and have rapport. Sometimes we’ll talk between innings and talk about stuff like family.
What do you do in the off-season?
I go back to Pennsylvania and spend time with my family and friends and do things and see people I can’t during the season. I also play golf, but as soon as the holidays hit I’m full go back into training.