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Garrett Stubbs Enters The Big League Picture

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That the Astros have not been fervent in pursuit of the top available catchers on either the trade or free agent market signifies a vote of confidence for Garrett Stubbs, the 2015 eighth-round pick who represents almost all of the organization’s high-level catching depth.

After trading away coveted catchers Jacob Nottingham (for Scott Kazmir in 2015) and Jake Rogers (for Justin Verlander in 2017), Stubbs’ addition to the 40-man roster in November was a foregone conclusion.

That maneuver protected the 25-year-old from the Rule 5 draft and almost ensures he will make his major league debut in 2019.

Houston lost both Brian McCann and Martin Maldonado in free agency. In response, general manager Jeff Luhnow has executed only one transaction, signing veteran Robinson Chirinos to a one-year free agent deal. Max Stassi returns, too, following a breakout rookie season.

After signing Chirinos, Luhnow said he would be "comfortable” entering the season with his present catching arrangement—including Stubbs.

"I think he’s a big league catcher and I think we’re going to see him this year at some point,” Luhnow said at the Winter Meetings. "Being a young guy with options, he’ll probably be up and down a bit, but he’s a good defender. He’s got a good bat.”

In four pro season, Stubbs has hit for average and drawn walks with a contact-first approach, albeit with little power. At Triple-A Fresno in 2018 he hit .310/.382/.455 with four home runs in 84 games.

Stubbs was versatile enough to play the outfield both at Southern California and sparingly in the minors. His athleticism and stamina are pluses, as is an above-average arm he used to throw out 45 percent of basestealers.

Perhaps the one universally held reservation to Stubbs in the industry is his size. He is listed at 5-foot-10—the same height as Stassi, yet Stubbs is about 25 pounds lighter.

"I don’t think that’s a negative,” Luhnow said. "I think so far he’s been fine. There are big catchers. There are small catchers. And if he can keep himself in shape—which he’s been able to do—he should be able to handle the workload of being a No. 1 catcher, and that’s what we see from him in the future.”

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Podcast: The Signings Of Garrett Stubbs And Zach Plesac

Talking with a pair of signing scouts about the process of scouting Garrett Stubbs and Zach Plesac.

SPACE SHOTS

— Righthanders Forrest Whitley and Corbin Martin along with outfielder Yordan Alvarez are among the group of prospects who will receive invitations to big league camp, Jeff Luhnow confirmed during the Winter Meetings. Luhnow declined to reveal the full list of non-roster invites.

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