Astros catcher Max Stassi had surgery yesterday on the hamate bone in his left wrist, Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle reports. He’s expected to require six weeks off to recover from the injury, so he’ll obviously not be ready for Opening Day.
Stassi, who turns 25 today, had been expected to slot in alongside Jason Castro in the club’s backstop mix. He may yet have that chance, but will first need to make it back from the surgery and undertake a rehab stint.
Though he’s received only limited MLB exposure over each of the last three seasons, Stassi has long been expected to contribute at the major league level. Rating him the Astros’ 19th-best prospect entering 2016, Baseball America noted that Stassi is a solid defender in all respects, though his bat has failed to advance in the upper minors. He’s known for struggling to make contact but delivering some pop when he does: in his 753 Triple-A plate appearances over the past two seasons, Stassi owns a .232/.289/.380 batting line with 22 home runs.
Houston’s options to replace Stassi are rather limited. Indeed, Alfredo Gonzalez is the only replacement who is already o the 40-man. The youngster, who rated 26th on BA’s list, is considered a quality defender, though he’s yet to play above Double-A and comes with durability questions. Tyler Heineman and Roberto Pena are the other members of the system in MLB camp. Evan Gattis could (at least in theory) receive consideration once he’s back to full strength, though he hasn’t suited up since he was dealt to the ’Stros.
While it might not be reasonable to expect the Astros to make any kind of significant acquisition, a play for a veteran depth piece certainly seems to make some sense. It’d obviously be preferable to do that sooner than later, though other organizations will be hesitant to thin their own ranks at this stage of the spring.