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Hunter Stovall Eagerly Goes Behind The Plate

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Hunter Stovall worked exclusively as a catcher in instructional league after beginning his pro career this year primarily playing second base at Rookie-level Grand Junction.

Farm director Zach Wilson said it was not a move toward a position change, but rather the overall organizational approach to creating versatility.

The Rockies drafted Stovall, 22, in the 21st round out of Mississippi State this year. In 49 games in the Pioneer League, he hit .296/.321/.588. He led Grand Junction in slugging percentage and triples (six) and hit 10 homers and 41 RBIs.

He drew just eight walks but made steady contact with 22 strikeouts. The 5-foot-8, 170-pound Stovall made 32 starts at second base, nine at third base, one at shortstop, three in left field and two in center field.

"He was a catcher in high school,” Wilson said. "He caught a little bit right at the beginning of his career in college (four starts at the position his freshman year), and he’s actually a pretty good receiver. He’s got a chance to be a true super-utility (player) who’s got a chance to go everywhere, including behind the plate.”

The Rockies drafted Chris Rabago as a shortstop in the 13th round in 2014 and converted him to catcher full time the following year. Rabago was at Double-A Hartford in late August when the Yankees claimed him on waivers.

"I think the difference here,” Wilson said, "is Hunter Stovall, you can run out to every outfield position, too, and he’s going to hold his own.”

Wilson said Stovall mentioned his catching experience upon joining the organization and was eager to go behind the plate in instructional league.

"One of the first things he said to us when he got here—we knew it already—but he was anxious to tell us, ‘Hey, man I can catch, too,’ ” Wilson said. "And he was right. He’s got very good hands, and he’s an athlete and he’s going to see some time in games behind the plate next year.”

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