If two players on this list are rostered by the big league club on March 26th it will be Stubbs and Straw. Stubbs got his first taste of the big leagues last year and had some timely hits and was just honestly a joy to watch. Much like Straw, he proved he could move around the diamond and didn’t have to stick at one position to make contributions to the big league team.
Stubbs, a catcher, saw 68.1 innings behind the dish in his freshman season but also tallied 19 more innings in the outfield. Add that to 31 innings he played at the keystone in Triple-A and he has built a fair amount of stock within the Astros system.
It is really hard to say how successful of an outfielder he would be with regular time in the grass tallying only 19 total big-league innings as a gauge, but Fangraphs did rate his time last year in the outfield as positive, if only minimally. As a catcher, Stubbs’ defensive ratings are a little bit of a mixed bag. According to Baseball Savant, he would be rated in the top five in second base pop-time and the top ten in arm rating for catchers from the 2019 season.
Despite his ability to get the ball up the field, his pitch-framing skills measure out to be well below average. Through 231 pitches caught in 2019, Stubbs had a 39.8% strike rate. This percentage would rank him almost three percent lower than the last qualified catcher on the Baseball Savant leaderboard, Isiah Kiner-Falefa.
However, below-average pitch-framing skills shouldn’t hurt Stubbs’s chances of making the team. As the third catcher and utility player, his baserunning, ability to play positions in the infield and outfield and his infectious smile make him a top candidate to be the Astros 26th man.