Catcher: Martín Maldonado & Korey Lee
Catcher is the lone infield position where the Astros will carry two big-leaguers. Martín Maldonado is a lock to make the team, while prospects Korey Lee and Yainer Diaz are battling it out for the backup spot.
Maldonado is quite simply one of the best game callers in baseball. He’s never going to be an even big-league average bat, but it’s arguable that no backstop means more to his staff than Maldy. His prep-work is unrivaled and he does an unbelievable job of guiding his pitchers through the lineup. In the last year alone, Maldy has caught a combined no-hitter, two immaculate innings, and a combined perfect game in the World Baseball Classic. He will be the Astros primary catcher.
As for the backup, Lee & Diaz will come down to the wire battling it out. As of this writing, I lean towards Lee. His floor may be a little higher than Diaz, though his ceiling isn’t quite as high. Diaz has the potential to be the best hitting catcher in the game, but he still has work to do behind the plate.
Diaz could benefit from more time getting everyday reps in Sugar Land while Lee could benefit from learning how to guide a staff and call a game under Maldy.
Lee also has been fantastic this Spring, hitting .333 with an 1.151 OPS at the time of writing. He gained 12 pounds this offseason and has displayed the pop, with three of his six hits going for extra bases.
We’ll see Diaz with the big league club somewhere down the line, but Lee should have the edge for Opening Day.