Looking to add another candidate to their backup-catcher competition in spring training, the Rangers acquired Chris Stewart from the White Sox on Friday. Chicago received Class A righthander John Lujan in return.
The Big Leaguers
Stewart, 24, made his big league debut last September, going 0-for-8. A 12th-round pick out of Riverside (Calif.) CC in 2001, he was the best defensive catcher in the White Sox system. His average arm strength plays up because of his quick release and accuracy, and he led the Double-A Southern League in throwing out basestealers (52 percent) in 2005 and ranked second in the Triple-A International League (49 percent) last year. He uses a contact approach at the plate but doesn’t provide much in the way of batting average, power or on-base skills, relegating him to a backup role. He hit .265/.314/.393 with four homers and 28 RBIs in 89 Triple-A games last season. Miguel Ojeda and Guillermo Quiroz will be Stewart’s main challengers to back up Gerald Laird this year.
Lujan, 22, signed as a 15th-round pick from New Mexico JC in 2004. He posted a 2.40 ERA in his first two pro seasons but struggled last year at high Class A Bakersfield. He went 1-4, 5.74 with four saves and a 58-43 K-BB ratio in 69 innings. Opponents batted .281 with eight homers against him. He also missed a couple of weeks with some elbow soreness. Lujan has a strong arm and can hit the mid-90s at times, but he’ll have to make significant improvements to his slider and command to reach the big leagues as a reliever.
After signing Toby Hall, the White Sox deemed Stewart expendable. Neither he nor Luhan projects as more than an end-of-the-roster guy in the majors at this point.