Astros: Korey Lee may be Houston’s catcher of the future

(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

There are questions surrounding the Astros and their catcher position. Despite what happens this offseason, Minor Leaguer Korey Lee could be the future.

With the recent signing of catcher Dustin Garneau, the Astros have their apparent backup for the position. The next step is to procure a starting catcher for the 2020 season. But what about 2021 and beyond? The Astros’ #3 prospect Korey Lee figures to be a big part of Houston’s future plans.

A product of the University of California, the Astros were intrigued by Lee’s arm and power. They were so impressed, they used their first selection of the 2019 MLB June Amateur Draft to snatch up the catcher. A few days later he was signed with the Astros, receiving a signing bonus of $1.75 million in the process.

Lee spent the first couple of years at Cal as a part-time player in various positions including 1st, 3rd, C, and DH. He batted .243/.332/.392 in his freshman and sophomore years combined. In between those seasons, he played for the La Crosse Loggers to gain valuable experience in a collegiate summer league.

That extra work seemed to really pay off as he blossomed his junior year hitting .337/.416/.619 with an OPS of 1.045. He also found the power in his bat slugging 15 home runs and 12 doubles, knocking in 57 runs in 51 games.

In a short season with the Astros Level A- Tri-City ValleCats, Lee had a decent showing in his first year as a Minor Leaguer hitting .268/.359/.371. He primarily played at the catcher position with quite a bit of added experience as the designated hitter. One of the attributes that have impressed is his arm behind the plate. Each year he continued to improve his defensive skills. His inaugural season with Tri-City he threw out 33% of stolen bases attempts.

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Lee’s future looked so bright, he rocketed up the Astros MLB Pipeline Top 30 Prospects leapfrogging Garret Stubbs to the 3# top prospect position of 2019. He is projected to make his Major League debut in 2022, which may explain the one-year contracts offered to new catchers added to the Astros roster. They may be hoping to see him before that projection.