Coming off of his Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year award while at USC in 2015, Stubbs went in the eighth round to the Astros in the 2015 MLB Draft, and he’s hit the ground running in his first 12 months in pro ball. Some may feel Stubbs is undersized for the catcher position, but what he lacks in weight, he makes up for in athleticism. He brings a great energy to his club and has demonstrated leadership qualities on the field that will make him a valuable part of the Houston organization going forward.
His carry tool is likely going to be his glove, and provided that he stays healthy, he should find himself on some top prospect lists going into this offseason. He has very loose, easy actions and his arm works well from behind the plate. So far he seems unfazed by the jump to High A this year following his 25 game stint in the Class A Midwest League post-draft last season. His advanced plate discipline has continued with a 28:24 SO:BB ratio through the first half, and he has gunned down 39% of would-be basestealers. He does have six passed balls, which is surprising because he was Jonathan Quick-esque in my looks last week, showing above-average lateral range on balls in the dirt.
He tends to sit back a bit at the plate and has a slightly uphill path – something that will work against him on the offensive side, as he does not project to be a big power guy. He does have good bat-to-ball skills and even though he is already 23 years old, his athletic frame has room for him to fill out and see some strength gains. He should be able to find the gaps and I believe that the on-base skills will continue as he moves up. Couple that with his plus defense behind the plate, and you have yourself a pretty solid contributor at the big league level. He will take a beating behind the plate, so the concerns about him wearing down have merit – however teams are beginning to move away from just one guy handling the bulk of the catching duties, and a platoon model is now more common. Some of that has to do with lack of depth at the position; some of it more to preserve a guy’s plus bat by getting him reps at a less strenuous position.
While Stubbs doesn’t profile as having big time offensive value, he should hit enough to utilize his athleticism at other spots. Much like C Tony Wolters’ profile in Colorado, I see Stubbs being able to handle other infield positions (2B/3B) and really add utility value and depth to a 25-man roster. He was named to the Cal League All-Star team last week, and while he is not elite in any one area, he does do a lot of things well, and I expect him to get the most out of his ability as he advances.