The Runner Sports

AFL Astros, Pt. 6: Garrett Stubbs: Tech Geek In A Catcher’s Mask

“We were all sitting in my room watching the USC football game,” Houston Astros catching prospect Garrett Stubbs explained in a recent interview. “I made kind of this gentleman’s bet, like, ‘I bet you [Cody] Kessler throws a touchdown right here.’”

AFL Background

The Arizona Fall League sprouted in 1992, and generally provides an autumn haven for MLB teams’ hot prospects. It’s no different this year, as the Astros have placed eight of their prized organizational players on the Glendale (AZ) Desert Dogs.

In fact, the Desert Dogs are housing an AFL-high seven Top-100 MLB prospects.

The AFL season began October 11, and lasts six weeks, ending November 19, with the Championship Game. A mid-season Fall Stars Game provided an exhibition of the league’s best on November 5. Already, wide-spread coverage of Mets prospect Tim Tebow has dominated AFL action.

The Desert Dogs play in Camelback Ranch-Glendale, a stadium in Phoenix.

Minor League Astros on the Glendale Desert Dogs (AFL):

Read Pt. 2: RHP Francis Martes (#1 Astros Prospect)

Read Pt. 5: RHP David Paulino (#4): Dominant Dominican Cyborg

Read Pt. 7: RHP Rogelio Armenteros: The Cuban Rocket

Read Pt. 3: RHP Jacob Dorris, Undrafted Sidearm Closer

Read Pt. 8: 2B Nick Tanielu: The Wazzu Wizard

Read Pt. 1: OF Ramon Laureano (#29) Hits the Wall

Read Pt. 4: OF Destiny For Jason Martin (#30): Bass or Bourn?

C Garrett Stubbs:

Stubbs made the above comment referring to the beta version of “Gentleman’s Call,” co-founded by Stubbs. The app launched in October 2015, and lets players make friendly play-by-play bets using points, instead of money, during college gridiron games.

“All of a sudden, Kessler throws a touchdown,” Stubbs continued. “I got to thinking — obviously betting on college football isn’t allowed, but hypothetically, what if somehow we were able to bet that? Then I got to thinking, ‘What about a platform that allows you to make friendly wagers on single plays within sporting events?'”

Garrett Stubbs, The Beta Version

Selected by Houston in the 8th round of 2015’s first-year player draft out of USC, Stubbs, 23, had wanted to be a Trojan since he was a young video gamer. He graduated with a degree in planning and development, with a real estate emphasis.

On Independence Day, 2016, the left-handed-batting Stubbs was promoted from Houston’s Lancaster (Advanced-A) affiliate to Double-A Corpus Christi.

In his 206 ABs at Lancaster, Stubbs hit .291, smacked 13 doubles, and 6 homers, earned an .827 OPS, gathered 38 RBIs, and was named a mid-season California League All-Star.

By all accounts, Stubbs has progressed seamlessly to the next level by dominating Texas League pitching to the tune of a .325 BA in 120 ABs.

At 5’10”, 175 lbs., speed will be a major part of his game; this by no means makes him a banjo hitter. Using both speed and power, Stubbs cracked 9 doubles, a triple, and 4 homers for Corpus to finish out his 2016. In his 31 games there, he scored 23 runs, while driving in 16.

Video: Watch Stubbs get drenched and powdered following his 14th inning walk-off double for Corpus, 7/23/16

Exercising plate discipline that mirrors Alex Bregman‘s in his minor league career, Stubbs walked more than he struck out at Corpus, 14-11, helping him to a fat .401 OBP and .918 OPS. In fact, throwing in 2015’s numbers, Stubbs has a combined 64-53 walk over strikeout combo.

Related: “Killer B” Alert: The Alex Bregman Era Begins in Houston

Stubbs’ minor league stolen base success rate is impressive, too: He was safe in all five of his attempts for Corpus, and in his two years in the Houston system, he’s stolen 18 in 21 attempts for an 86% success rate.

In the AFL, Stubbs usually finds himself batting second in the Glendale Desert Dogs lineup. Heading into games of October 31, Stubbs is starting slowly in his 11 games. He’s hitting .205, with 2 doubles and a homer in 39 ABs. With no steals, he has 4 walks and 6 strikeouts.

AFL Video: Watch Stubbs in a series of ABs in Glendale 10/20/16

Update from AFL Astros’ Glendale Clubhouse

In a November 7 Houston Chronicle article, Jake Kaplan reports that Stubbs is working to add some heft to his “less-than-stereotypical” catcher stature:

“While playing about four times a week in the AFL, Stubbs is on a specific strength and conditioning program to add bulk to his thin 5-foot-10 frame and increase his durability ahead of next season.”

Stubbs said, Monday, November 7th, that “he is currently playing at 175 pounds, his listed weight. His goal is to weigh 185 pounds by the start of spring training in mid-February (14th).

“Stubbs’ current program calls for full body workouts twice a week. After the AFL season ends, he will move his workouts to Newport Beach, California.”

Stubbs weighs in: “I try to use it (my size) to my advantage because guys see me back there and say, ‘Wow, that catcher’s small,’ ” he said on Monday. “I try to play bigger than what they see.

“I’m just going out there and trying to prove every single day that I can be out there every day and play, and play to a very high level,” he concluded.

A Look Ahead For Stubbs

With catching prospects from other teams crowding Stubbs for playing time, Astro brass is likely undaunted by his AFL performance, to date. Expect to see Stubbs at Spring Training camp, as he’s rapidly becoming the Astros’ top catching prospect, an important designation considering the uncertainty of Jason Castro’s return to the Astros.

Stubbs will open 2017 at Triple-A Fresno.

Related: Garrett Stubbs: Craig Biggio 2.0?

Brad Kyle

Brad Kyle

Brad Ramone with (L-R) Dee Dee, Johnny, and Joey Ramone, backstage at Houston's Liberty Hall, July, 1977.

Johnny, the Ramones' influential guitarist, who passed away in 2004 at 55, was an avid baseball and New York Yankees fan since childhood. He even once ranked baseball above rock'n'roll in a personal Top 10 List!

Like Johnny, my love for rock is only equaled by my love for baseball and my hometown Houston Astros, present and past!

At TRS, you'll get full Astros coverage, minor league peeks, player profiles, interviews, MLB historical perspective, and maybe a little rock'n'roll!
Brad Kyle