Houston Astros Top Three Catching Prospects
The Astros minor league system has gone through a huge overhaul over the last year and a half. Prospects like Correa, Tucker, and McCullers Jr. have graduated while others like Velasquez, Nottingham, Appel, Phillips, and others have been traded to make the big league club better. Even with all these moves the Astros system is still deep.
We will now be starting a series of top prospects at each position starting with catcher. The Astros traded away probably their highest ceiling catcher but still have plenty of depth in the minor leagues. I will put the highest level played in parenthesis after the name.
1. Max Stassi (MLB)
Max Stassi was acquired by the Astros in the Jed Lowrie trade in 2013. Stassi came with a ton of upside and didn’t disappoint in his first season in the Astros system. The former Athletic hit .277 with 17 HR in 76 games for Corpus Christi. He has struggled a bit since going to AAA but has still shown decent power numbers. In his limited time with the Astros he has hit .357 in 45 plate appearances. His ceiling is still high and could start the season as the backup to Castro with his improved defense.
2015 Stats: 84 G, .211 BA/.279 OBP/.384 SLG, 8 2B, 13 HR, 43 RBI, 26 BB/93 SO (MiLB)
2. Alfredo Gonzalez (AA)
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Gonzalez got his start in the Astros system at 16-years old but finally put things together this season. As a 22-year old he hit .321 over three levels (A, A+, AA) with 37 BB/51 SO. Praised for his defense, he showed some offensive abilities this season and helped him get added to the Astros 40-man roster. He also threw out 24-of-51 base stealers this season. Gonzalez may start out in AA but has a chance to impact the big league club if there is an injury.
2015 Stats: 72 G, .321 BA/.409 OBP/.378 SLG, 6 2B, 2 HR, 35 RBI, 37 BB/51 SO
3. Tyler Heineman (AAA)
Heineman was drafted by the Astros in 2012. He has moved through the system finishing in AAA last year. Throughout his minor league career Heineman has shown the great ability to put the bat on the ball striking out just 117 times in 315 games. He has also hit for a decent average at every stop with a career minor league average of .288. The former UCLA Bruin also ranked as one of the better framers by baseball prospectus.
2015 Stats: 78 G, .285 BA/.334 OBP/.379 SLG, 17 2B, 3 HR, 30 RBI, 19 BB/21 SO
Jamie Ritchie – Ritchie was drafted in the 13th round of the 2014 draft. He had a great showing in Tri-City where he hit .331. He started with QC last year and while he only hit .266, he had a 70 BB/54 K ratio in 72 games. He was then promoted to Lancaster where he hit .308 with a 25 BB/27 K ratio. For his MiLB career he has a 124 BB/107 K ratio in 158 games.
Garrett Stubbs – Drafted in 2015, Stubbs only got 145 plate appearances this past season. The crazy stat for him? He struck out only five times in 145 plate appearances. 103 of those PAs came with QC where he has a 1.9 SO%.
Next up on the series will be first base prospects highlighted by A.J. Reed.