Time to shine a spotlight on Houston Astros’ Triple-A affiliate Fresno Grizzlies catcher Garrett Stubbs.
With Brian McCann injured and aging, the catching position has suddenly become a bit of a concern for the Astros. That makes this as good a time as any to profile their top catching prospect, Garrett Stubbs.
The 25-year-old is having a quality season for Triple-A Fresno, slashing .337/.401/.478 in 49 games. With Tim Federowicz on the major league roster for at least the next few weeks, Stubbs has an opportunity for near-everyday playing time.
The lefty-swinging Stubbs was the Astros’ eighth-round draft pick in 2015 out of the University of Southern California. He hit .263/.369/.305 in 36 Class-A games that year. Between Class-A advanced and Double-A in 2016, he impressed. His overall line of .304/.391/.469 in 86 games seemed to have him on the fast track.
2017 was not kind to him, however. Between Double-A and Triple-A, he hit just .232/.328/.321 with four homers in 98 games. But he’s rebounded so far this season, and he’s next in line should there be another opening on the major league roster. He’s currently rated as the team’s 23rd-best prospect by MLB.com.
For now, Stubbs profiles as a solid backup catcher. Per MLB.com’s scouting report, his size (5’10”, 175 lbs) and stamina seem to prevent him from being able to handle a full-season’s workload behind the plate.
He doesn’t hit for much power (just 16 homers in 269 career games) but makes good contact and manages the strike zone. He has plus athleticism for a catcher and is a solid defender with a good arm. With that profile, he would be a valuable second catcher.
The question, of course, is if Stubbs can get his body in good enough shape to handle regular catching duties. Even if he doesn’t, he could be a long-term platoon partner with a right-handed hitter like Max Stassi.
Could he even follow in the footsteps of a previous Astros catching prospect who eventually moved out from behind the dish? Possibly, but Stubbs doesn’t have the speed Craig Biggio had. He doesn’t have the power for a first baseman, and most other positions appear set for the foreseeable future. He looks to remain at catcher.
Regardless, if Stubbs continues to rake at Triple-A, he’ll make a home for himself in the major leagues. A solid defender who makes good contact would be a welcome addition to most catching tandems.