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Catching Equipment That The Pros Wear

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Written By
Xan Barksdale

I’m always curious to know what equipment MLB catchers are wearing so I decided to do some research…

I watched games and charted exactly what equipment that the 30 starting catchers in the MLB wear.  Some of the results may surprise you!

There are 2 factors that decide which gear pro catchers wear and they are:

  1. What gear do MLB catchers like/prefer?
  2. Which company is going to pay them the most to use/endorse their gear?

These guys make a living catching and they’re not going to bet their salaries on sub par equipment.  So, you can be sure that they think the equipment they’re using is the best out there.

With that said, there are huge endorsements and contracts and that does play a role in what guys wear.  Just like Lebron James gets paid millions of dollars from Nike to wear their shoes, catchers get paid to wear catching gear.

I’ve always thought that All-Star makes the best equipment out there, but you’ll see that they don’t have the largest market share.  Part of this is due to the fact that they don’t pay pro guys huge sums of money to wear their gear.  More on that below…

What Mitt do Pro Catchers Wear?

It’s interesting that of the 30 different MLB catchers there are only 4 different brands of mitt used.  Part of this has to do with the endorsements, but a larger part has to do with the quality.

The 4 brands listed below are, in my opinion, much better than the other brands available.  I think the MLB guys agree with me…

  • 6 MLB Catchers (20%) wear a Mizuno mitt
  • 6 MLB Catchers (20%) wear an All-Star mitt
  • 6 MLB Catchers (20%) wear a Wilson mitt
  • 12 MLB Catchers (40%) wear a Rawlings mitt

2015_MLB_Mitts

What Chest Protector/Shinguards do MLB Catchers Wear?

You may be wondering why the chest protector and shinguards are grouped together and that’s a good question…here’s the answer: ALL MLB catchers wear the same brand chest protector and shinguards.  That’s right 100% of them wear the same brand.  I couldn’t find an example of one catcher wearing different brands so I’ve grouped them together and because a lot of times they’re sold in sets.

NOTE:  You’ll notice that All-Star and Under Armour equipment looks almost identical.  I’m pretty sure that Under Armour has paid All-Star a licensing fee to put their logo on equipment made by All-Star, however, I can’t confirm it.  If that is the case and we were to combine them into one category you’ll see that half of MLB catchers wear gear made by All-Star/Under Armour.

UPDATE: A representative from All-Star has reached out to me and confirmed that Under Armour gear is made by All-Star.  There is a slight different in the cosmetic styling of the chest protector, but ultimately it is the same equipment.

  • 1 MLB Catcher (4%) wears Wilson
  • 3 MLB Catchers (10%) wear All-Star
  • 4 MLB Catchers (13%) wear Rawlings
  • 4 MLB Catchers (13%) wear Mizuno
  • 6 MLB Catchers (20%) wear Nike
  • 12 MLB Catchers (40%) wear Under Armour

2015_MLB_Knee_Chest_Shins

Do Pro Catchers Wear a Hockey Style Helmet or Traditional Facemask?

Most states require HS baseball players to wear hockey style (one-piece) helmets for safety reasons.  Are they really safer?  That’s another topic that I’m going to devote an entire blog post to.

  • 10 MLB Catchers (33%) wear a Hockey Style helmet
  • 20 MLB Catchers (67%) wear a Traditional Style helmet

2015_MLB_Facemask

Do Any MLB Catchers Wear Knee Savers?

I bet the answer to this one is going to surprise you!  There are A LOT of people out there that think catchers who wear knee savers are lazy, but I’m here to tell you that’s just not the case.  Knee savers don’t have anything to do with a catchers work ethic, but I’ll save that for another blog post.

More and more catchers are wearing knee savers to help prevent knee injuries at all levels of baseball, and the MLB is no different.  It was almost 50/50 which seems to be more guys than ever before:

  • 14 MLB Catchers (47%) are wearing Knee Savers
  • 16 MLB Catchers (53%) are NOT wearing Knee Savers

2015_MLB_Knee_Savers

If you’re looking for any new catching equipment I’d recommend checking out Baseball Express.  I’ve used them for years because they have the lowest prices and the best customer service.

Leave a comment below and let me know what catching equipment you use and what you think about this article!

Written By
Xan Barksdale

Comments

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Lamarques Bussey

Great informative blog post!! You clearly answered every question I had on catchers gear I am a 9u coach. I want to check out the blog you have about knee savers and the one on the difference in the old school style catchers mask and helmet vs. the newer hockey mask style.

Billy

With respect to hockey style masks, what is the manufacturer's recommendation for period of use prior to replacement? We can't seem to find any details. Thank you

Troy Thompson

Hi Xan- My daughter is a middle infielder, pitcher, & catcher. She plays fastpitch softball. She wears Louisville Slugger catchers gear. (Many sources comment best value for catchers gear) Her Coaches are trying to get her not to wear her Easton 2 knee savers. They say players sit back too much and don’t “activate their quads enough” Also say can’t get as low and not as quick with knee savers. I say BS they are called knee savers for a reason.

Jason

Coach, Great article! Helps to narrow things down a bit. Quick question for you - what brand of masks are catchers using? Do they use the same brand as their shins/chest protector? Are any catchers using the Force3 masks? Do you know how the Force3 gear compares to All-Star or UA? Thanks!

Grant Craig

I am 14 years old playing 14u baseball going into High School next and am looking for a Hockey Style Catchers Mask because a traditional style mask in illegal in High School ball. Reccomendations?

Xan Barksdale

I've got one and it's a nice mitt. Be prepared for it to be VERY stiff if you get it.

Steve

What's your thoughts on Marucci Founders catchers mit? We've been looking at it and the quality looks to be better than the Wilson and Rawlings

Shannon Pipes

Some guys are starting to wear Force 3. Tyler Flowers of the Atlanta Braves is the most notable.

Dean Palmiere

Moved my son to the All-Star System 7 when he grew big enough. I too wore All-Star back in the day. He loves the comfort and protection. He's also currently breaking in his second All-Star 32" pro glove, which he swears by. I was a Gold Glove guy... the small one!

James

Great blog. Thank you for sharing. Are the helmets wore by the pros the same as of the shelf ones? Are the pros shin guards lighter or custom fitted for the pros?

James Williams

My daughter's catching instructor wouldn't let her start their first lesson until we removed the knee savers.

Bill

My son plays 12U travel ball and he has recently been getting catching instructions from someone that played D1 and Minor league ball. My son has worn a thumb guard since he was 10 and his new instructors says that you should not wear the guard and that it just teaches bad habits. I understand that catching the ball properly will prevent you from hurting your thumb but things happen. Any thoughts? Any idea what % of MLB catchers wear one?

Jane Pavliscak

Orthopedic physicians HATE knee savers-because it encourages putting weight on the back on shins, causing hair-line fractures. Catchers don't sit on their shins! Teach the stance from day one! Throw them out!

Hunter

Hi, I wanted to know if you ever did the blog and research on the differences between the traditional and hockey style masks? Thanks a lot!

John

Help my son is 15 , he uses a mizuno samari he has loved this glove only glove with a bilt in thumb gard. The problem is he is catching 80 to 85 mph and says it has to much sting. Is it time to spend the big $ for an all star or willson pro level glove.

Frank Gallegos

I just came across a new mask that has broken into the majors. There are a lot of catchers who get paid to where specific brands and my finds show that there are a few of those guys switching over to this mask and taking the emblem off of it to not get into trouble with the companies they have contracts with. I found these guys while looking for new gear for my 12 year old. the web sight is - http://www.force3progear.com/ Spoke with Jason the ceo and now waiting on some final sizing specs to place my order. These guys look legit.

AM

And worth every penny!

Tiffany

My 11 year old has worn Louisville Slugger Series 5 gear with knee savers and a Mizuno glove for 2 seasons and loves them.

Todd

My son has caught for 9 years now and we have always used All Star. He has had the All Star System 7 now for a few years and loves it. He also just got the All Star Pro Elite. To him, the All Star System 7 is the best gear out there for protection and comfort. I know it's a little high priced but it is for a reason. He will be a sophomore this year and catcher is the only position he plays.

Xan Barksdale

It's available at CatchersThumb.com

David Blackson

Where could I get that hand guard you created for under the glove? And do you have it in youth sizes? My son is a 10u travel ball catcher and after catching his 6 game in 3 days this weekend he was having pay in his hand.

Mike

AJ Ellis, Los Angeles Dodgers.

Parker

Where can I find a combo of a Rawlings glove, all star gear, a traditional mask, and no knee savers. I've been looking for a new set of gear for a while now, and I can't find anything that I'm interested in.

Stephen

What is your thoughts on the Boombah gear? We bought my son a set and it is well made and very comfortable according to him.

RJ

Why is that? My son wears Easton Mako gear and lives it! Used to have Mizuno samurai and would never go back. Very curious since you see so many colleges using it.

Bill

My daughter catches for her varsity softball team. She has experienced a concussion twice from foul balls to her mask/helmet. While I think the right thing to do is to have her switch positions, in the meantime I want to get her the safest helmet possible. Whether that means stock off the shelf, or aftermarket modifications. Do you have any recommendations on either or both? Thanks!!

Frank

My 11 year old uses a all star traditional mask, Rawlings skull cap, All star USA chest protector, mizuno samurai leg guards, and a Rawlings catchers mitt, with a akadema catchers mitt for back up.

Todd VanDerwerken

I wanted to update you on my post from July 2015. As 12 yr old boys do my son continued to grow and grow...and grow to the point that we ended up ordering adult size gear. After much research and talking to Xan, Jay Weaver and others we landed on All-Star System 7 for gear head to toe and his mitt. Since he loves catching and is planning on continuing in that position as he goes into high school we went with the 33 1/2 Pro-Elite mitt. He's only had the opportunity to wear it once, but seems to enjoy it very much. Thank you Xan for your assistance.

Cameron

I'm a 11 year old sixth grader and I started being a catcher last year. I use Easton gear and a Mizuno Glove and so far they've worked great. I started out using an old glove that I really liked that we got from Play It Again Sports, but one of the strings broke and we got a Mizuno to replace it.

Kentflash

My son who is 6'-220 lbs. age 16 is just starting becoming a catcher. I find your articles very helpful. Keep them coming.

Russ

first off I love all the catching info and products, and the recent blog about gear. My son has pretty distinct preferences when it comes to spikes, bats, gloves etc.., so i guess my question is this== what options does a college player have when the university is sponsored by glove or bat company that my son strongly objects to using. Free stuff is great, but when it comes to confidence or game performance I think the player should be able to select the equipment they feel allows them to perform at their best. Just cant believe that a college athlete has no say in the equipment they use!

Paul

My sons have worn Easton gear since little league coming up. Good price point and good gear that has stood the test of years of baseball use by numerous catchers. They don't like the knee savers and took them off so they can really crunch down when they need to. Thanks for the study though as I think our current set is on its last year.

TJ from Florida

After re-reading my last post, I realized it sounded like we were complaining about having to break in a new glove after Wilson replaced the previous one after the lacing snapped in the pocket webbing. Please understand we are grateful that Wilson sponsors his collegiate team! However, anyone who has had to break in a new catcher's glove knows how time consuming that is, and once it becomes comfortable to use, your confidence in it builds. It is quite depressing when the lacing or other component fails and you know what lays ahead... Being a veteran of both the Marines and Army, I have taught my some to be loyal to people/companies that have shown loyalty to him. He does that. It has only been this last year where he had received free gear from a sponsor company. He would still wear his all star gear during practices to keep his Wilson gear clean and new looking for game days. It is not mandatory for him to wear what is provided and he just wanted to give Wilson a try since they were providing it to his school. Again, a loyalty deal. I do know he is more fond of All-Star gear across the board so far, and I'm sure he will be looking to continue to wear their gear should he progress beyond college. I do know he is back to the old All-Star glove that we re-laced a few days ago while he continues to break in his new Wilson. As a person looking in though, I do have to say that of all the options of gear, I do believe that the All-Star looks the best and performance wise, others may claim to be equal or better, but they may have to prove that to my son. The only test he would really have left is to use a Rawlings mitt and compare that one to his CM3000 Pro-Elite. I have heard the Rawlings top of the line glove is heavy. Justin hasn't had the chance yet to check that out for himself though. Thanks Xan!

TJ from Florida

Hello Xan. My son Justin is now at a D1 school and will be a returning sophomore. We have tried all the brands and styles over the years. His school is sponsored by Wilson. He gets their equipment free. Glove wise over the years he has had Akadema, Mizuno, All-Star and now Wilson. He really liked the All-Star glove the best. He likes the lightweight Wilson, but the lacing that joins the web to the palm area has already snapped. They really use a narrow lacing in that area. That Wilson was his glove he got last year as a freshman. His All-Star has done the same but that was after 3 years of consistent use, not one. Wilson sent him a new glove, and All-Star gave us the option to receive new lacing and a kit with instructions or to mail it back and let them re-lace it. Since he really needed the glove fast as he is playing summer ball, I had All-Star send me the kit. It actually had heavier duty lacing. I know this adds weight, but it seems like it would be good to have that area reinforced with that thicker lacing from day one from the factory. All in all, he really likes the All-Star the best so far and now has to break in another glove from Wilson. He never had a Rawlings glove as of yet. We have been toying with that lately as he will need a new second glove. That will either be another All-Star CM3000 Pro-Elite or top of the line Rawlings just to test. Hands down, he has been an All-Star fan of the All-Star chest protector and shin guards. He has worn those for years now! As for traditional/hockey style masks, he usually wears the hockey style at this point just because he feels it offers him more all around protection of his head. It is also warmer and since he plays in the Ohio Valley Conference that means something in the early part of the season...❄️ He has worn the traditional style some, but for now uses the hockey style. All-Star head gear of course. Xan, what are your thoughts on the All-Star mitt over the Rawlings and Wilson versions of their top of the line mitts? Thanks for your feedback! TJ

Martha

My son uses his third-time restuffed Mizuno catcher's mitt, Catcher's Thumb, All Star 700 series helmet (with washable pads), Easton 4-sided Knee-Savers, Mizuno chest guard (the Easton chest guard was too soft & squishy so didn't offer much protection), Easton Mako shin guards. We had a custom Soto catcher's mitt but we found the thumb hole wasn't big enough for the Catcher's Thumb. You're right that catching is definitely under-coached. We find your blogs & info very helpful!

Coach Xan

Bob, I'm doing some research about that now and hope to have it out within a few weeks!

Coach Xan

Ha, thanks! I'm actually doing research now for a new post about that...hope to have it out in a few weeks!

Coach Xan

Thanks, glad you like the article and the book! No, I have no way to research 9-10 year olds.

Masahiro Yoshida

Incredible research, we are in Mexico and into little league teams. Is there a reference for catcher gear for 9-10 years players ? Thanks, PS Incredible book Catcher 101

Colton

I have Louisville slugger gear and really like it, and have an all-star mitt. Which MLB catcher wears wilson gear??

Megan

Xan...love all of your blogs! I was surprised that Easton is not on the list, as well. They really make a push in the youth baseball/softball world. My 12 year old loves his Under Armour gear and his knee-savers! Just went to a new catcher's mitt this year made by "shoeless joe" and he fell in love with it. We would love to see more info from you geared towards left-handed catcher's. Our son knows he is at a disadvantage, but it fires him up to work even harder! You've been a valuable source for us. Thanks.

Robb

Great stuff. Whatever Yadi does...that's where my son is. BTW, he's brushing up on Catching-101...still enjoy that. Solid.

Josh Greer

My son (13) and daughter (15) use the Rawlings 950X series catchers gear. Shins are good, but the metatarsals end up always tearing off. The chest protector is the best I have seen. Absorbs a crazy amount of impact but isn't restrictive. Side note: Last night my son begged me to allow up to use an old style 2 piece mask in his league games (he has always used hockey style masks). His catching instructor says the 2 piece mask is safer for foul tip impact with regard to concussions. Of course my son could care less about that, but used it as a barging tool to wear a cool mask. Any comments? No, I'm not asking you to over rule his instructor. And no, your words will not be used against you. :-)

Bob

This is interesting information. I'd love to hear more about the knee savers. I've read that there's no real data to confirm if they have any benefit for a catcher's knees. Does anyone know if there have been any real studies to determine what they actually protect? My understanding of knee savers is that they were designed to extend an aging catcher's career?

Michael

My 13 year old uses an All Star hockey style mask w/ Wilson chest protector and Akadema shins. He loves his Akedema Torino mitt and has two of them. He is starting to use the traditional mask and helmet for practices. He really likes the look of the Louisville Slugger equipment our local college uses.

Andy

Great info my son out grew his gear this year so we replaced his chest protector and shin guards with the rawlings 950x series. He wanted the rawlings gear because that's what yadi uses. The gear is really nice the chest protector is super light but hardly feels anything when blocking and the shin protectors offergood movement. I do like the the all star chest protector seems likes its more form fitting than most. I also see what you mean about the rawlings mitts having a shallower pocket I've notice more a few more dropped balls since he started using there mitt.

Coach Xan

Todd, Glad you enjoyed the post! There are definitely a lot of options out there and it can seem overwhelming at times so I appreciate your input. When you try new stuff out be sure to let me know!

Coach Xan

Thanks Scott, glad you liked it! I'm a huge fan of the All-Star mitt, with Wilson coming in second place. The Rawlings mitts are high quality leather and crafted really well, but I just don't like the shape. The pocket is VERY shallow and I've always preferred a deeper pocket. If you prefer a shallow pocket then definitely look at the Rawlings, but if you prefer something deeper go with the All-Star or Wilson.

Todd

Xan – great information; thank you for putting that together; saves us Dad’s a ton of work. My 12 yr old son has outgrown his Easton gear; so he is using he brothers old All-Star gear, but will outgrow that soon as well. We’ve looked at many different types of gear; really like the Mizuno Chest Protector for how hard it is and appears to give good protection for blocking; but do not like the Samurai helmet; the padding looks cheap and the reviews I’ve read seem to confirm that. Really like the All-Star MVP System Seven series helmets; looking at them they seem padded very well, and the reviews I’ve read seem to agree. Not sure on the shin guards yet; the All Star seem to provide better padding then the Mizuno Samurai. As far as the glove goes; he going to need a new one of those as well; right now he’s using an Akadema and loves it; seems to be a much less expensive version of the All Star Pro models…so we might stay with Akadema and go up in in size.

Scott Garner

Great idea for a research project! I've been a big fan of Rawlings gear and Wilson custom mitts for a long time. Love to hear your preferences Xan.

Coach Xan

Which college is he going to?

Noah

I prefer All Star System 7

Jeremy Hart

My 17 yr old son wears all Mizzuno gear and uses a Rawlings Glove. Have used this combo for 10 yrs. And the college he is going to uses Mizzuno also

Coach Xan

Ha! I love it! Great info...I know the Samurai stuff is very popular with the younger crowd.

Coach Xan

Neither Easton nor Louisville Slugger give endorsements for catchers. You'll notice there are a good number of starting pitchers in the MLB who wear Slugger gloves, but that's about all they target. Easton doesn't have any presence in professional baseball.

Dave

My son is sort of a "cross-dresser". (I can't believe I just said that about my 9 year old sun.) He wears no-name pair of shin guards (with knee savers), an Easton chest protector (he likes how hard it is to add protection for blocking balls), and wears a Mizuno Samurai mask. I really like the Samurai mask because I feel it is the best mask that provides protection for that price point.

Ryan Turner

Kind of surprised with no love for Easton brand catching gear.

Mike

Love the read! I have been wearing all star gear and using their glove for 5 years!

Joshua

My son recently made the switch to all All-Star catching equipment. The equipment is outstanding. I was most impressed with their gloves (CM3100) and mask MVP2500. Far superior to the Rawlings we was using. He still can't stand to use knee savers.

Jaime

You are correct

Kristine Mejia

My son uses Under Armor for his catchers gear.

Kristine Mejia

Great read!

David Dratwa

Pretty sure that All Star makes equipment for Under Armour...

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