Will the Houston Astros Select a Catcher In the First Round?
With all due respect to any catching prospects in the Houston Astros farm system, they are mostly considered to have backup catcher ceilings. The Astros don’t seem to have much faith in Max Stassi because they have converted Evan Gattis into the backup catcher for the team. Gattis caught back-to-back games Tuesday and Wednesday and is showing some promise back there. However, the Astros need to look for potential everyday catchers down the road.
Jason Castro is looking to go into free agency this offseason, so unless Gattis can handle being the everyday guy in 2017, the Astros need to look to the future to find a catcher in the 2016 MLB Draft. The writing has been on the wall since Jacob Nottingham was traded away that they needed to replace him. With most of the positions pretty deep in the Astros farm system, catchers are not one of them.
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With the 2016 MLB Draft approaching, the Astros should be looking for a player who could develop into the everyday catcher. The only player in the Astros system right now who could turn into the everyday guy would probably be Garrett Stubbs, who was drafted in the 8th round of the 2015 draft. He is currently at Class-A Lancaster where he is batting .288 with six homers.
As the Astros learned following the Nottingham trade, you can’t put all your eggs in one catcher’s mitt. Look for the Astros to draft a catcher early in this year’s draft. Let’s take a look at the options the Astros have for the 17th overall pick in the first round of the 2016 MLB draft.
Collins is the catcher for the Miami Hurricanes; he probably has the best bat of the catcher in this year’s draft, which is why MLB Pipeline ranks him as the 20th top prospect in this year’s draft. He bats from the left side of the plate, which is the mold of the type of hitter that Jeff Luhnow covets. The Reds previously drafted him in the 27th round of the 2013 draft but elected to play in college instead. He may not stick at catcher in professional ball, profiles more of a first baseman type.
2016 Stats: .364/ 12 homers/ 52 RBI/ OPS .1170 (From the Baseball Cube)
The 33rd draft prospect Thaiss is the catcher for Virgina, who is more of an all-around catcher than Collins, not quite the offensive force. Some see Thaiss as a top 10 pick in a weak catcher’s draft class this year. He also bats left-handed but was drafted later out of high school by the Red Sox (32nd round 2013). He’s 35-pounds lighter than Collins, so picture more Stassi than Castro when thinking of Thaiss. He may have only had ten homers this year, but he hits for extra-bases.
2016: .382/ 10 homers/ 56 RBI/ .1068 OPS. (From the Baseball Cube).
Okey was once one of the top catching prospects in the 2013 draft; he is now an okay catcher. When I say okay, he doesn’t have any tools that will blow you away such as Collins’ power does, but he is good across the board. He can probably turn into 15 homers a year type of hitter, but he will an above average catcher most likely.
2016 Stats: .330/ 12 homers/ 66 RBI/ .1027 OPS. (Via The Baseball Cube).
While I am not saying that this is the way the Astros will go, it is no secret that the catcher spot is the weakest position in the Astros system. Collins or Okey could potential be taken before the Astros pick due to the lack of catcher depth in the 2016 draft. If I were GM, I would have my eyes on Collins. Tomorrow I will look at the corner infield draft candidates.
***Prospect information from MLB Pipeline and stats from Baseball Cube