Houston Astros Might Have a New Backup Catcher Soon
Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch announced following Friday night’s game that Evan Gattis was reporting to the Corpus Chisti Hooks to work on his catching. I wrote about this yesterday, thinking that while Gattis was down there, he could also work on his hitting. You can read the post here: Astros Finally Do the Right Thing, Send Gattis Down to Catch. It is expected that Gattis will spend ten days with the Hooks, so this should give him some time to regain his timing at the plate.
Gattis did not waste any time getting behind the plate with the Hooks, as he played behind the plate for seven innings before being removed for Alfredo Gonzalez. While I don’t have all the details of the game, he did not have any errors and threw out a runner at second base. For Gattis to play catcher for the Houston Astros in 2016 would mean that they could carry an extra infielder such as A.J. Reed or Colin Moran to help the offense.
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Erik Kratz, the current backup would probably be designated for assignment should Gattis prove he is capable as the backup. The only problem with this situation is that Gattis will probably no longer be a designated hitter every day. Should Gattis start the game as the designated hitter and be needed later as a catcher, the Astros will be without the DH for the remainder of the game.
The thing to be impressed about is the fact that Gattis threw out the only runner that tried to steal on him. Astros fans remember the days of Hank Conger, it is not easy to throw out runners trying to steal. For Gattis to throw out a runner in his first attempt in about two years is impressive. He will probably take today off, then try to duplicate seven innings again during his next game. Then they will try to stretch him out to be able to catch nine innings plus.
While the Astros will probably not divulge this with their struggling slugger, in my opinion, he is also down there to get back on track at the plate. When he was with the Hooks last time, he was hitting home runs, which led him to believe that he was ready to return. Last night, he did hit a home run. With Castro being a free agent, the Astros could be testing if they could use him as the everyday Castro next year.
While Gattis is gone, look for Preston Tucker to log some at-bats that could get his bat going. I think that when Gattis is ready following his ten-day stint with the Hooks, he could be coming up with a friend from Fresno, probably Reed. Moran is not hitting as well as we thought he was, but Reed does have a .235 average with six homers.
Luis Valbuena did show signs of life with his homer yesterday, so Tyler White and Tucker would probably platoon at designated hitter while Gonzalez and Valbuena alternate at third base. If, a big if, the Astros bring Reed up that early, he will be the everyday guy at first base. Gone in this scenario would be Kratz.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***