Now that 2020 is here, it is time to start looking at the top three prospects at each position as we lead up to the Astros top 30 prospect list. Helping me with these lists is Spencer Morris (@prospect_spencer). This week we will get things going with the catcher position.
After two so-so seasons with Cal, Lee took a big step forward in 2019, emerging as the team’s top offensive weapon behind 3rd overall pick Andrew Vaughn. Broadly built at 6’2”, 205 lbs., Lee is a strong athlete with a strong lower half and shows solid across the board defensive skills and above average arm strength, projecting as a solid average catcher at the highest level. With the bat, he shows a With the bat, he shows a nice mix of hit and power, with a simple stroke that keeps the barrel in the hitting zone for a long time. His approach is also pretty advanced already, and generates a healthy quantity of walks. Lee piled up 15 home runs with the Golden Bears as a junior and added 3 more in the NYPL during his pro debut, and projects as a 20+ home run threat down the line. With the ability to hit for a solid average and get on base from the backstop position, this gives Lee a strong shot to be a future regular at catcher.
2019 Stats: 64 G, .268 BA/.359 OBP/.371 SLG, 6 2B, 4 3B, 3 HR, 28 RBI, 8 SB, 28 BB/49 SO, 122 wRC+
Stubbs has been in the Astros system since being an 8th round pick back in the 2015 draft. He made his way through the system and made his MLB debut in 2019 playing in 19 games. Stubbs has a slender build but is an athletic catcher who can actually run the bases well too. The Astros experimented with him in 2019 playing him in the outfield a bit at the MLB level and second base in AAA. He doesn’t have a ton of power, but he has a keen knack of making contact, evident by his low strikeout rate throughout his professional baseball career. He is solid behind the plate and has arm strength to be a presence in the running game. Right now, Stubbs projects as a guy who could fill out the back end of the Astros roster in 2020.
2019 Stats: 63 G, .240 BA/.332 OBP/.397 SLG, 11 2B, 7 HR, 23 RBI, 24 BB/38 SO, 79 wRC+
Perry was drafted out of Bassett High School in Virginia in the 5th round of the 2017 draft. Perry is a well built catcher, listed at 6’2” and 195 lbs. Perry has the power for the size and has an aggressive uphill swing. Perry’s ceiling is almost as high as Lee’s. He took big strides in 2019 where he played in Tri-City at just 19 years old and hit 11 2B and 12 HR in 67 games. Some scouts have noted he is a bit slow behind the plate and may move to first base, but for now the Astros will continue to groom him at the catcher position. I am very excited to see how Perry performs next year when he makes his full season debut.
2019 Stats: 67 G, .244 BA/.354 OBP/.462 SLG, 11 2B, 12 HR, 35 RBI, 145 wRC+
C.J. Stubbs (A): The “little” brother of Garrett Stubbs, CJ is much larger than his older sibling, measuring 6’3” and 200 lbs. A 10th round selection in the 2019 draft, CJ started his college career as a pitcher but was shifted to position duty after undergoing Tommy John surgery, eventually becoming the team’s starting backstop in 2019, hitting .285/.378/.466 in 213 PAs. It’s unclear if the Astros plan to use him there full time- in his pro debut, he moved between catcher, left field and first base, but if he is able to catch capably long term, his bat could become intriguing. He is already 23 years old, but hit the ground running in the Astros organization, hitting .249/.340/.459 across two levels, including .328/.371/.621 with 4 homers in his 16 games with Quad Cities. Given his age and positional uncertainty, Stubbs is a fringy prospect for now, but could hit his way onto the radar in 2020.
Scott Manea (A+): Manea was acquired by the Astros in the trade that sent J.D. Davis to the Mets. Manea is an offensive-minded catcher who has average raw power and does a solid job controlling the strike zone. He has a bulky build and isn’t overly athletic behind the plate, but has solid arm strength. In 2019 he played in 102 games and had 14 2B and 12 HR with a 118 wRC+. He is a long shot to make it to the MLB, but for now, provides solid catching depth in the Astros system.
Chuckie Robinson (AA): Robinson had a massive, enthusiastic swing with some jerky movement and a big body for a catcher coming out of high school, but he went on to college. Robinson has never really blossomed as a hitter- his big cut isn’t geared for contact, and he’s always struck out at a hearty clip. That said, he’s capable of putting a charge into the ball when he gets ahold of one, and has developed into a very capable backstop and leader. A player who is easy to root for, Robinson is unlikely to be more than a cup-of-coffee type at the big league level, but has the skills to hang around the game for some time to come.
Lorenzo Quintana (AAA): Quintana was signed by the Astros in 2017 out of Cuba. He is an older prospect, playing at 30 in 2019. He performed really well though combining to hit .299 with 16 2B, 17 HR, 56 RBI and a 132 wRC+. He is a bat first catcher and will be 31 in 2020, though at this point I wonder what the Astros plans will be for him moving forward.
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