PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) – Pirates catching prospect Jacob Stallings had more than just a bracket-pride rooting interest in Tuesday’s NCAA basketball tournament play-in game between Wichita State and Vanderbilt.

Stallings’ father, Kevin, is the Vanderbilt head coach, which led to some emotional moments while watching Wichita State pull away and advance to play Arizona on Thursday.

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“I feel bad for my dad, and the guys, for it to end so abruptly,” Stallings said from the Pirates clubhouse in Bradenton.

And it’s more for Stallings than just his dad being the coach. Stallings works part-time with the Vandy program during the baseball off-season.

Stallings does advanced stats for the Commodores, is at practice every day and attends all of the home games. Stallings says he, “charts individual defensive stuff and chart how we score on offense. What plays we run, what percentage of the time we score on them and that kind of thing.”

Stallings laughed when asked if he’s an analytics guy now.

“It’s fun, I really enjoy it,” Stallings said. “It’s a nice little get-away from baseball in the off-season, just to kind of put the focus elsewhere and decompress from the season a little bit. I just love being a part of a team.”

His first love is basketball, but Stallings said he realized he wasn’t athletic enough to play guard at a big-time Division-I program and decided to concentrate on baseball.

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He has unusual size for a catcher at 6-feet-5-inches, but Stallings said he uses his length to his advantage to help with framing pitches and is able to present a big target to pitchers. Stallings also believes it was an advantage playing multiple sports.

“I think kids these days kind of get focused too much on one sport and get burned out by it. Playing basketball through high school helped develop my athleticism, so I think laterally I’m a little better and quicker and more flexible than if I just played baseball,” he said.

It’s Stallings first major-league camp and beyond being ‘really cool,’ he’s trying to learn as much as he can from Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart while he is here. Stallings is also soaking in the wisdom and stories from former Bucs catcher Mike LaValliere, who is helping during Spring Training.

The 26-year-old hit .275 last year in Altoona, with a .994 fielding percentage and threw out 37 percent of the runners attempting to steal. A seventh round pick in 2012, Stallings has competition in the minors from Elias Diaz and former No. 1 pick, Reese McGuire.

“I think it probably does drive me to work hard because I know if I don’t, I will get passed by,” he said.

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