Astros call up prospect Stubbs; Stassi to IL

May 26th, 2019

HOUSTON -- When Mickey Storey, the manager at Triple-A Round Rock, pinch-hit for catcher in the seventh inning on Saturday night in Nashville, Tenn., Stubbs knew immediately what was going on.

“I kind of smirked because there’s only one reason you get taken out,” Stubbs said. “He said, ‘You’re going to The Show tomorrow.’ I got pretty excited at that point and sat the next four innings, and all I could think about was calling my parents and letting them know. That was exciting.”

The Astros called up Stubbs -- their No. 12 prospect by MLB Pipeline -- on his 26th birthday to take the roster spot of catcher , who injured his left knee running to first base in Saturday’s win. Stassi’s knee is structurally sound and has only some inflammation, but Astros manager AJ Hinch wasn’t about to be shorthanded at catcher while Stassi mends.

“Catching is one position where we can’t take a day or two to assess what’s going on,” Hinch said. “I’m not going to play a game with only one catcher. … It’s nice to get him an opportunity despite the fact it’s going to cost us Stassi for at least 10 days, maybe a couple of weeks.”

Stubbs will make his first start on Tuesday against the Cubs at Minute Maid Park, where he will catch in his fourth big league start. In 28 games at Round Rock, the left-handed-hitting Stubbs was batting .250 with four doubles, four homers, seven RBIs and an .804 OPS.

“I was hoping for a chance to get up here last year,” Stubbs said. “I feel like I’ve been ready for a little bit now. Just really excited to finally get that opportunity.”

Back to Stubbs’ parents. They were on a plane leaving Corvallis, Ore., where they had just watched Garrett’s younger brother, CJ, play his final game of the season for USC while Garrett was trying to get in touch with them to tell them the news. Once they got Wi-Fi working on their flight, they were able to get the news from Garrett via FaceTime.

“They said the whole plane started clapping for them,” Garrett said.

Stubbs' parents will be in Houston to watch him play this week and even in Oakland for next weekend’s series against the A’s.

Next for Stubbs was a 6 a.m. Sunday flight to Houston, where he was shuttled to Minute Maid Park and met with Hinch -- a fellow former Pac-12 catcher -- to calm him down.

“He can hit and he’s got some power,” Hinch said. “We like him behind the plate. We like how athletic he is. He can defend, he can catch, he can throw. He does a lot of things we like. We don’t know how he’s going to call games at the Major League level. That’s going to be the biggest transition for him. From the Minor Leagues to the big leagues, the game prep, the advance scouting, the interaction with the dugout is a little more heightened at the Major League level. But he can really play. I think his athleticism is his best trait, and we’re going to bring that out of them.”

Stassi, meanwhile, thinks he’ll be able to return when his 10 days on the IL are over.

“As a catcher, your knees are always kind of barking a little bit, but nothing to an extent to where I had to come out of a game,” Stassi said. “I’m glad it’s not as serious as I thought it was originally.”