Backup catcher may become an issue for the Houston Astros in the coming days.
Injuries in baseball can never be avoided. They are just a part of the game. Just look at the recent, yet ultimately good news, surrounding Lance McCullers and his right shoulder. Unfortunately for the Houston Astros, the latest setback for catcher Max Stassi and his left hand doesn’t look quite as optimistic and the development impacts one of the thinnest positions in the entire organization. Let’s hope his upcoming tests means good news for all parties involved.
The situation with Stassi should be clarified later today as he sees a specialist regarding his ailing left hand. Per Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle, Astros manager A.J. Hinch warns that it is too early to determine if Stassi has indeed fractured his left hamate bone. But for the team to send him back to Houston for further examination doesn’t bode well for the young catcher.
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If a fracture is indeed found, then the injury could put Stassi on the shelf for quite a while. The question would then become who will replace the young catcher on the active roster while he is on the mend. Don’t forget that the Astros still have Jason Castro as the primary catcher, and there are options within the system. Alfredo Gonzalez, Tyler Heineman, Roberto Pena, and even Evan Gattis, could be looked upon to temporarily fulfill the role. Check out CTH’s own Colin Gay and his most recent post for a more detailed look at numerous of the potential options for the backup catcher role heading into the 2016 season.
But the Astros may need to turn its attention outside the organization if the franchise’s brain trust decides that would be to the detriment of the team. Odds are that the team will roll with one of the minor league options if push came to shove, however, the situation is still fluid.
Stassi, entering his age-25, hit .211/.279/.384 with 13 home runs and 43 RBI in 294 at-bats with the Fresno Grizzlies in 2015. He also appeared in 11 games for the Astros after being a late season call up. He does offer plenty of power like the previous backup catcher, Hank Conger, but will need to prove his worth behind the plate when he does come back. This would actually be the key for any catcher hoping to lock down the backup role on the major league roster.
**Statistics provided by Fangraphs**