Can any of the Astros prospects be the second catcher this season?
We’ve talked about Contreras, Murphy, and Vasquez all as potential free agency signings to be the second backstop this year for the Astros, but what we’ve neglected is the age-old baseball tradition of developing minor league talent.
One of the Astros' top prospects is Korey Lee. Lee was drafted by the Astros out of the University of California at Berkeley in the first round of the 2019 draft. He is still rookie eligible and is under club control until 2029.
In the minors, Lee has a career batting average of .258, paired with 39 home runs and 149 runs batted in. He shines much brighter defensively, however, catching 34 percent of runners stealing with a .991 fielding percentage.
Korey Lee is a high-potential prospect for the Astros, but has struggled offensively in the majors. In 12 games at the major league level, Lee has only accrued four hits with a negative 0.5 WAR. Given time and guidance by veteran Martin Maldonado, Lee could very well develop into a fantastic secondary catcher.
Another highly touted catching prospect is Yainer Diaz. Diaz, a native of the Dominican Republic, was signed through international free agency in 2016 by Cleveland. The Astros acquired Diaz in 2022 from the Guardians in the deal for Phil Maton.
In his six years in the minor leagues, Diaz is hitting .321 with 52 long balls and 375 batted in. Diaz is a clear step up offensively to Lee and shows great promise with the glove as well. He has a .998 fielding percentage and is known for his cannon of an arm, posting a 35% caught-stealing rate.
Diaz has also struggled in the majors, only acquiring one hit in nine plate appearances. He does, however, have far more experience and better numbers in his career when compared to Lee. With similar defensive numbers and a high step up offensively, Diaz proves to be the best option if the Astros stay homegrown.
Houston has been heavily linked to a couple of different catchers in the major leagues, but there is a high potential they could look to bring up a young guy and use the money to bolster other positional needs like outfielders or even tacking on more starting pitching.
This move is one of the best options withstanding for Houston, because with the loss of Justin Verlander, they could use the money to bring in another starter. On the other side, using some of the extra cash to bolster the outfield would allow Yordan Alvarez to stick to the designated hitter spot.