With the addition of Hank Conger to the Astros catching mix, the likelihood of Max Stassi finding a home in Houston in 2015 may be slim to none. Both Conger and Carlos Corporan are switch hitters, and Jason Castro is a lefty, while Stassi bats from the right side. The 23-year old has only received a taste of the big leagues the past two seasons, but he definitely deserves a chance in 2015.
The sample size is small, yes. In Houston in 2013 and 2014, Stassi has totaled 27 at-bats, but has a hit in nine of those, or a .333 batting average. He has also struck out eight times, so obviously he’ll fit right in. His minor league stats suggest that he will not be able to maintain his batting average in the Jose Altuve realm, but he is on par with Castro, who is the best hitter of the three catching options currently in Houston.
The problem for Max Stassi has been staying healthy. If health was no concern, a Castro/Stassi split of backstop duties would likely be on the horizon.
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According to MLB Pipeline, Stassi “is a solid defensively, and he earns praise for his handling of pitchers.” I am going to make a bold prediction. Both Mark Appel and Max Stassi start 2015 in Fresno. That’s not the bold part. Instead, I feel that Stassi’s route to the majors may depend on the development of Appel. When Appel is ready to be called up, Stassi may operate as his personal catcher.
If Stassi is solid defensively, and has performed well thus far at the the major league level, that alone could warrant a call up to Houston. Instead, I could see him being a brought up as a comfort for Appel, at least for a few starts. Much has been made over Appel’s struggles in Lancaster in 2014. In a piece by Brian McTaggart earlier this month, Appel said, “My last outing, obviously, wasn’t great. If I were to sum it up, I would just say I lost a little confidence later on with my fastball and obviously the command wasn’t there. When the confidence is there, the command is there.”
If confidence is a key for Appel, then having a rapport with the starting catcher for his major league debut could be an excellent confidence boost, and propel him in his subsequent starts. Stassi is definitely worth a look in 2015, and whether or not he comes up attached to Mark Appel, Stassi could either replace, or complement Castro next season in Houston.