Stovall Gets Work at Catcher During Rockies Instructional League

Hunter Stovall worked exclusively as a catcher in the Rockies’ just-concluded instructional league program after beginning his professional career this year primarily playing second base at Rookie level Grand Junction.

Zach Wilson, Rockies player development director, said it was not a move toward a position change, but rather the overall organizational approach to creating versatility.

The Rockies drafted Stovall, 22, in the 21st round out of Mississippi State. In 49 games at Grand Junction, Stovall hit .296/.321/.588 with 10 homers and 41 RBI in 199 at-bats. He drew only eight walks but made steady contact with just 22 strikeouts.

At Grand Junction, Stovall, listed at 5-8, 170 pounds, made 32 starts at second base, nine at third base, one at shortstop, three in left field and two in center field.

“He was a catcher in high school,” Wilson said. “He caught a little bit right at the beginning of his career in college (four starts at the position his freshman year), and he’s actually a pretty good receiver. He’s got a chance to be a true super-utility (player) who’s got a chance to go everywhere, including behind the plate.”

The Rockies have recent experience with middle infielders who have converted to catching. Tony Wolters began his career as a middle infielder but began catching at the High Class A level in 2013 while in the Indians organization. The Rockies claimed Wolters off waivers from Cleveland in February 2016. He appeared in 64 games at catcher this season for the Rockies, two each at second base and in left field and one at shortstop.

The Rockies drafted Chris Rabago as a shortstop in the 13th round in 2014 out of the University of California, Irvine. He played that position in his first professional season before the Rockies converted him to a catcher in 2015. Rabago was playing at Double-A Hartford this year when the Rockies dropped him from their 40-man roster to open a spot for Matt Holliday, and Rabago was claimed off waivers by the Yankees on Aug. 22.

“I think the difference here is Hunter Stovall, you can run out to every outfield position, too, and he’s going to hold his own,” Wilson said.

Wilson said Stovall was eager to go behind the plate in the instructional league program. Indeed, when he joined the Rockies organization, Stovall was quick to mention his catching experience.

“One of the first things he said to us when he got here _ we knew it already _ but he was anxious to tell us, ‘Hey, man I can catch too,’ ” Wilson said. “And he was right.
“He’s got very good hands, and he’s an athlete and he’s going to see some time in games behind the plate next year.”

Jack EtkinComment