As the hands of time slowly move towards the beginning of Houston Astros Spring Training, let’s take a look at another player who could turn heads in West Palm Beach. Last week, I profiled toolsy outfielder Ramon Laureano. This week, it is time to look behind the plate and profile catching prospect Garrett Stubbs.
Stubbs, who was an eighth-round pick out of USC in 2015, completed his first season of pro ball last summer. After an uneven debut in 2015, he made improvements in every statistical category.
In 86 games split between High-A and Double-A, Stubbs had a .304 average and a .391 on-base percentage. Additionally, he had 10 home runs, 22 doubles, 15 steals and an incredible strikeout to walk ratio of 43:48. His numbers were even better after his promotion to Double-A. He slashed .325/.401/.517 and hit home runs at a higher clip.
The 23-year-old was lauded before the draft for his defensive work and he has lived up to the praise. In 67 games behind the plate, he threw out 51 percent of baserunners. His .997 fielding percentage also shows that, at the very least, he can be a capable backup. He did allow 10 passed balls during the season, which is a little too high but that number is not uncommon for catchers at this stage of their career. He has time to work out those kinks before he reaches Houston.
The Astros sent Stubbs to the Arizona Fall League following the season. The lefty struggled, only hitting .171 while making three errors behind the dish. He did display his advanced eye at the plate, resulting in 10 walks in only 70 at-bats. The difficulties in the AFL could be traced to him wearing down from his first full season.
With the newly acquired Brian McCann under contract for two more years, Stubbs has the ability to make a good impression this spring without much pressure. The two years will allow him to continue refining his offense and defense. If he is able to make strides in 2017, where he’ll likely reach Triple-A, he has a good chance of making a cameo in 2018 as Brian McCann’s backup. Stubbs only ranks 30th on MLB.com’s top 30 prospects. That can begin to change with a strong showing in Spring Training.
Dillon Healy is a Staff Writer for Outside Pitch MLB. You can follow him on Twitter here.