When the Astros acquired Max Stassi in last February’s trade that sent Jed Lowrie to Oakland, the catcher had yet to play a game above the High-A level. A string of injuries kept Max from advancing through the Athletics’ farm system as quickly as his skills may have warranted.
The injury bug struck again during Spring Training and Stassi started the 2013 season on the disabled list. A strained oblique and a sports hernia kept Max out of action until early May. When he was finally healthy, the Astros sent the 22-year old to AA Corpus Christi. It didn’t take long for Stassi to adjust. He hit .286/.346/.457 in 19 games during the month of May. By July he had mastered the level, hitting .333/.404/.782 and blasting 11 homeruns to earn Texas League Player of the Month honors.
Max would be called up to the big leagues in August. But in only his second game with the Astros, a Tanner Scheppers fastball would strike Max in the face. The resulting concussion would keep Stassi on the shelf for a month and he would appear in only one more game before the end of the season.
Stassi returned home to Yuba City, California for the offseason and has been working hard to stay in shape. Max and his brother Brock, a Phillies farmhand, took time out of their intense training regimen to host their fifth annual Homers for the Hungry charity event in their hometown last month. The brothers hoped to best the previous year’s record of $28,000 raised for local food banks and other charities. The turnout was excellent and the event was a big success.
When healthy, Stassi has shown tremendous power potential and the ability to hit for a decent average. Possessing soft hands, quick feet, and a strong arm, Stassi is also a plus fielder behind the plate. His overall skill set projects Stassi as an above average big league catcher. Staying healthy appears to be his biggest challenge.
His success in 2013 catapulted Max ahead of some of the more experienced catchers in the Astros farm system. But the health concerns may put a brief hold on his ascent through the ranks. Stassi would appear to be ticketed for a starting role at either AA Corpus Christi or AAA Oklahoma City to start the year. If he can stay off the disabled list, Max should be back in Houston at some point during the season.
Max Stassi (photo by Tammy Tucker)