While the Astros looked to be stacked at catcher in the bigs, their minor league depth looks to be strong at the position as well.
The trade of switch-hitting Tyler Heineman shows that the Astros have trust in their current catcher depth. With veteran Juan Centeno, and former top prospect Max Stassi both at Fresno, and twins Brian McCann and Evan Gattis holding down the fort in Houston, the team is deep at the position. However, it is the California kid in Corpus Christi that has the organization excited.
After playing high school ball in San Diego, the left-handed catcher took his talents to play college ball at The University of South California. Stubbs had an illustrious career at USC, hitting .346 his senior year, and played his way into winning the Johnny Bench Award. It’s the award given to the most outstanding College Catcher.
Despite the accolades and great stats, Stubbs was not viewed as a top prospect in the June 2015 MLB Draft and fell to the 8th round. The Astros seem to have struck gold though with the smooth-swinging lefty.
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In 4 minor league seasons, Stubbs has hit .293 with ten home runs and a .426 slugging percentage. He finished 2016 at Double-A Corpus Christi, where he hit .325 with four home runs in 31 games. His consistent numbers throughout his time in the minors is promising, and his left-handed swing will be valuable when facing right-handed pitchers.
Stubbs walks more than he strikes out, walking 64 times to 53 strikeouts in 4 seasons, and may have enough pop to hit 10-15 homers every year. Defensively, he has a powerful arm and is nimble enough to stop most wild pitches. At 5’10”, he doesn’t have a huge frame but has enough bulk to be effective at blocking dirtballs.
MLB Pipeline recently released their annual Top 30 prospects list for each team, and Garrett Stubbs is currently ranked #11 on the Astros list. This is a big jump from his #30 rating at the end of 2016. Stubbs could crack the Majors this season if he continues to develop as he has. His offensive potential is higher than that of fellow catching prospects Jake Rogers and Max Stassi, and if he continues to crush AA pitching, Stubbs could see time at Fresno sooner rather than later.
All in all, Garrett Stubbs is a guy to follow going into 2017. The Astros seem to have found their future at catcher with the California native, and the farm system that Jeff Luhnow committed to rebuilding all those years ago is still churning out productive players.
***Statistics and resources courtesy of www.mlb.com/prospects and www.baseballreference.com***