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What to expect from Sam Huff in bigs

@JimCallisMLB
September 10, 2020

During a season in which they're posting their worst winning percentage since their first year in Texas (1972), the Rangers haven't produced many highlights. But their fans will get a glimpse of one of the best catching prospects in baseball after the club promoted Sam Huff on Thursday. Since Huff

During a season in which they're posting their worst winning percentage since their first year in Texas (1972), the Rangers haven't produced many highlights. But their fans will get a glimpse of one of the best catching prospects in baseball after the club promoted Sam Huff on Thursday.

Since Huff has no experience above high Class A, calling him up hadn't been a high priority. But that changed when starting catcher Alex Trevino sprained his left wrist Wednesday, rendering him unavailable for at least the next few days. Trevino's injury left Jeff Mathis as the only healthy catcher on the Texas roster.

Ranked No. 75 on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list and No. 2 on the Rangers' Top 30, Huff signed for $225,000 as a seventh-rounder out of Arcadia High (Phoenix) in 2016, when he led Arizona prepsters with 14 homers. He spent two years in the Rookie-level Arizona League before breaking out with 18 homers in low Class A in '18, then took his game to another level last year.

Huff opened 2019 with 15 homers in 30 games in low Class A, moved to high Class A in early May and batted a combined .278/.335/.509 with 28 dingers between the two stops. He also earned MVP honors at the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game after slamming a dramatic game-tying homer.

Now 22, Huff may play only sparingly in his first taste of the big leagues. But there's no question that the Rangers envision him as their catcher of the future and someone who eventually can help them return to contention.

Here's our breakdown of Huff's tools on the 20-80 scouting scale, where 50 represents big league average ability:

Hit (45): Huff has an extremely aggressive mentality that has resulted in a career .264 batting average in four pro seasons. He has struck out four times as much as he has walked and fanned in 30 percent of his plate appearances, and he posted similar numbers while having the best year of his career in 2019. His grip-it-and-rip-it approach has left him susceptible to offspeed pitches at the lower levels of the Minors, and he'll likely have to make some adjustments against higher-quality pitching.

Power (60): The strength and leverage in Huff's 6-foot-5, 240-pound frame combine with his aggression to give him more raw pop than any catching prospect in the game. The right-handed-hitting slugger has 56 homers in 322 pro games, including several tape-measure shots, and he produces the highest exit velocities of any Rangers farmhand since Joey Gallo. Huff's power plays against both left-handers and right-handers, though he actually has enjoyed more success in full-season ball against righties despite the platoon disadvantage.

Run (40): Huff is deceptively athletic and moves surprisingly well for his size. He has below-average speed but he's not a baseclogger, and he'll take an extra base and even try to steal when the opportunity presents.

Arm (60): Huff's arm strength earns plus to well-above-average grades and would fit anywhere on the diamond. It plays well behind the plate and he has worked to quicken his release since turning pro. He caught 30 of 63 basestealers (48 percent) a year ago.

Field (50): Just five players his size have caught as many as 300 games in the Majors, but Huff has the ingredients to become the sixth. He has cleaned up his catching significantly during four years in pro ball and handles low pitches better than scouts would expect a 6-foot-5 backstop could. He scores well in Texas' framing metrics, though he still needs to improve the consistency of his receiving.

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.