The Houston Astros have four catchers to battle for playing time this spring but none of them inspire much confidence. 29-year old righty swinging Humberto Quintero is likely penciled in as the #1 catcher heading into spring training. Quintero played in 59 games for the Astros last season and he was 38 for 168 (.226 avg, .568 OPS) with 16 runs scored, 2 homers and 12 RBIs. He threw out 7 of 37 (19%) basestealers last season and Astros’ pitchers had a 4.89 ERA throwing to him so he could use some improvement.
33-year old righty swinging Toby Hall was brought in as a minor league free agent. He played in 41 games for the White Sox last season and he was 33 for 127 (.260 avg, .635 OPS) with 7 runs scored, 2 homers and 7 RBIs. Hall only threw out 3 of 46 (7%) basestealers last season but White Sox pitchers had a 3.68 ERA with Hall behind the plate. Hall has a bum shoulder but he has been a decent catcher in the not too distant past which is more than can be said about the three guys he will be competing against this spring.
The Astros gave 25-year old righty swinging J.R. Towles the starting job out of spring training last season and he gave it right back. He played in 54 games for the Astros last season in which he was 20 for 146 (.137 avg, .503 OPS) with 10 runs scored, 4 homers and 16 RBIs. Towles also whiffed 40 times which is way too many as he often looked helpless against major league pitching last season. Towles did throw out 5 of 18 (28%) basestealers and Astros’ pitchers had a 4.78 ERA with him behind the plate last season so all was not bad.
26-year old righty swinging Lou Palmisano was acquired in a trade shortly after the Rule 5 Draft. He played in 27 games in A+Rookie Ball last season and he was 30 for 101 (.297 avg, .788 OPS) with 12 runs scored, 2 homers and 9 RBIs. Palmisano could make the Astros’ opening day roster with a big spring.
PROJECTED GRADE FOR THE 2009 SEASON: F