Astros MiLB Position Review: Catcher
Now that the season is over we will review each position in the minor league system during the 2021 season. This week we will start with catcher position.
Berryhill, originally drafted by the Reds and traded to the Astros last off-season, put up a big season. He started the year in Low-A and crushed slashing .305/.429/.636 with 10 HR, 32 RBI in 35 games. He was promoted to High-A where he hit .277 with 5 HR, 19 RBI in 29 games earning another promotion to Double-A where he hit .313 in 9 games. Overall, Berryhill had a .974 OPS and 159 wRC+. He was named the Astros minor league player of the year. Read more on him here.
2021 Stats: 73 G, .295 BA/.413 OBP/.561 SLG, 20 2B, 15 HR, 54 RBI, 159 wRC+
— Astros Future (@AstrosFuture) October 10, 2021
Lee was the Astros first round pick in the 2019 draft (32nd overall). He had a solid start to his professional career hitting .268 with .730 OPS in 64 games but was unable to play in 2020 due to COVID. He finally got his shot again in 2021 and played well. He started the year in High-A and hit .330 in 29 games before earning a promotion to Double-A. In Double-A he hit .254 with 8 HR in 50 games and finished the season hitting .229 in 9 games in Triple-A. He also threw out 43% of base stealers. Read more about Lee here.
2021 Stats: 88 G, .277 BA/.340 OBP/.438 SLG, 18 2B, 1 3B, 11 HR, 45 RBI, 4 SB
— Astros Future (@AstrosFuture) October 25, 2021
Manea was acquired by the Astros in the deal that sent J.D. Davis to the Mets. In 2019 he had a .734 OPS in High-A but had a very good 2021. He played the full season in Double-A and slashed .286/.405/.462 with 9 HR in 65 games before suffering an injury. Manea is a solid defender too. Despite him being 25 years old, he is still one to watch moving forward.
2021 Stats: 65 G, .286 BA/.405 OBP/.462 SLG, 10 2B, 9 HR, 38 RBI
— Astros Future (@AstrosFuture) October 20, 2021
Diaz was acquired this season from the Indians in the trade that sent Myles Straw to Cleveland. He was originally assigned to Low-A where he played in 12 games before being promoted to High-A. In High-A he hit .396 with 11 HR and 33 RBI. For those interested, that was good for an insane 213 wRC+. Overall he hit .324 with 17 HR, 90 RBI. Scouts say he has some work to do behind the plate but the bat looks legit.
2021 Stats: 98 G, .324 BA/.362 OBP/.527 SLG, 25 2B, 17 HR, 90 RBI, 4 SB
— Astros Future (@AstrosFuture) September 15, 2021
THE REST OF THE PACK
Papierski has been in the system since 2017 and made it to AAA in 2021. He hit just .246 but had a .379 OBP as he posted a 15.6 BB%. Pitchers raved about his ability to call a game and as a switch hitter, he could find himself on a major league roster.
2021 Stats: 103 G, .246 BA/.379 OBP/.375 SLG, 18 2B, 2 3B, 7 HR, 46 RBI
Perry was drafted by the Astros in the 5th round of the 2017 and after a solid 2019, he struggled a little but in 2021 posting just a .705 OPS with 5 HR in 51 games. He is still just 22 years old. He threw out 32% of base stealers too.
2021 Stats: 51 G, .220 BA/.321 OBP/.385 SLG, 13 2B, 5 HR, 30 RBI
Rodriguez started out the year hot but cooled off and finished with a .699 OPS. He posted a solid .350 OBP but had limited power with just 21 XBH in 83 games in Low-A.
2021 Stats: 83 G, .247 BA/.350 OBP/.349 SLG, 14 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR, 43 RBI
Stubbs, the younger brother of Garrett, bounced around the system but finished with 18 2B, 12 HR in 91 games. He hit just .220 with a .297 OBP but showed off some power. He threw out 37% of base stealers.
2021 Stats: 91 G, .220 BA/.297 OBP/.398 SLG, 18 2B, 3 3B, 12 HR, 45 RBI, 8 SB
Salazar played primarily in High-A and Double-A this season collected 11 HR and hit .251. He quietly posted a .830 OPS while throwing out 26% os base stealers.
2021 Stats: 56 G, .251 BA/.338 OBP/.492 SLG, 11 2B, 11 HR, 32 RBI, 4 SB
It feels like it has been a while since the Astros have had depth at the catching position in the minors, but they definitely do now. Leading the way is former first rounder Korey Lee along with Luke Berryhill and Yainer Diaz. Add in some high floors prospects like Manea and Papierski and the Astros have the guys able to fill in at the catcher position for some time. There is still plenty of upside too with the top guys listed plus Diaz, Perry and even Rodriguez. I expect Lee to make his MLB debut at some point next season and Berryhill may not be far behind either.
**Photo Credit: Tamm Tucker**