11:40am: The Rangers have formally selected Huff’s contract, per a team announcement. Outfielder Scott Heineman was optioned to the alternate training site to open a spot on the active roster.
10:40am: The Rangers are set to promote catching prospect Sam Huff to the Major League roster in the wake of Jose Trevino’s left wrist injury, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports (via Twitter). Manager Chris Woodward acknowledged last night that promoting Huff was at least something the team would discuss (Twitter link via T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com).
Huff, 22, entered the season ranked as the game’s No. 99 prospect at Baseball America — the infusion of 2020 draftees has since pushed him off the list — and currently ranks second among the organization’s prospects there. He ranks 75th overall at MLB.com. Other outlets, such as FanGraphs, aren’t as bullish given questions about his ability to stick behind the dish and his lofty strikeout rates. There’s no questioning Huff’s raw power, however, which draws 70 grades on the 20-80 scale in most scouting reports.
A seventh-round pick back in 2016, Huff split the 2019 season between Class-A and Class-A Advanced, where he hit a combined .278/.335/.509 with 28 homers, 22 doubles, a pair of triples and six steals (albeit in a dozen attempts). He’s been an average or better offensive producer at every minor league stop — well above average, in most cases — and boasts a career 34 percent caught-stealing rate thanks to a plus arm that generally receives 60 grades.
On the negative side of the coin, Huff has punched out in 29.7 percent of his minor league plate appearances to date and walked at just a 7.3 percent clip. MLB.com’s scouting report notes recent improvements in his framing and footwork but also observes that only five players as large as the 6’5″, 240-pound Huff have ever caught 300 games in the Majors. Given that lack of precedent, a broad range of outlooks is to be expected.
Huff has yet to play a game against Double-A pitching, so Major League opposition should present a particularly formidable test. Even if Huff returns to the minors at some point, the club is hopeful that he can emerge as a viable long-term piece of the puzzle. The Rangers have leaned heavily on 36-year-old veteran Robinson Chirinos since 2014 (last year’s one-year departure for the Astros notwithstanding), but Texas traded him to the Mets at the deadline.
The hope at one point may have been that Trevino could’ve been next in line, but he’s now 27 years of age and yet to produce in the upper minors or at the MLB level. Broadly speaking, the Rangers have lacked a top-tier catching prospect for quite some time. Huff is their most well-regarded young backstop in recent memory, and he’ll now get his first big league audition over the next few days. If he sticks in the Majors, he’d be controllable all the way through the 2026 season and wouldn’t be arbitration-eligible until the 2023-24 offseason, but further optional assignments could alter those timelines.