With the 2022 regular season over, it is that time where we go back and take a look at the players who appeared for the Texas Rangers this past season.
Today, we look at catcher Sam Huff.
2022 was a mixed year for Sam Huff. From a developmental standpoint it was much more of a positive than 2020 and 2021, what with the 2020 season being the year of the pandemic and Huff being limited to 1B and DH duties in 2021 due to knee surgery. Huff stayed healthy in 2022 and got a number of games behind the plate, be that in the majors or the minors, and so that was good.
Huff moved up and down between Round Rock and Arlington several times over the course of the season. He came up for a brief stint with Jonah Heim was on the paternity list, appearing in one game before returning to Round Rock. He was back up a week and a half later when Mitch Garver went on the injured list, and stayed up due to Garver being unable to catch. Then in mid-June, the Rangers opted to return Huff to Round Rock and purchase the contract of Meibrys Viloria, making Viloria the team’s backup catcher.
Huff spent about three weeks in AAA before being brought back up the week before the All Star Game. Huff started a pair of games — one at catcher, one at DH — and finished a game at first base before being sent back down for Nick Solak after being up less than a week. The quick up-and-down made one wonder why they brought Huff up in the first place.
In any case, Huff stayed in Round Rock until being called up early in September, getting semi-regular playing time over the final month of the season. Huff ended the season with a .240/.303/.372 slash line in 132 plate appearances for the Rangers, along with a .260/.336/.533 slash line for Round Rock.
I feel like the scouting report on Huff now is the same as it has been for a while — he has big time power and a big time arm, but also has major contact issues and his overall defensive game needs work. There has been talk about him potentially being an option at first base or DH, but he doesn’t seem likely to hit enough to be an asset at either of those positions.
Huff has an option remaining, and he could go to Round Rock to start the season and catch regularly, with Jonah Heim and Mitch Garver sharing major league catching duties. Bruce Bochy has talked about carrying three catchers, however, and with Garver’s defensive limitations and durability concerns, along with the lack of quality DH options, Garver could end up getting the bulk of his playing time at DH, which would mean someone else sharing time at catcher with Heim. The rules limiting pickoff throws and enlarging the size of the bases is expected to result in more stolen base attempts, and that could help Huff’s cause, given his throwing arm is seen as a strength.
The combination of Huff and Heim has the potential to be a very solid catching tandem. Heim had a quality 2022 season, and Huff seems like someone who could be at least a nice backup, with the potential for more if he can reduce his K’s. 2023 will be a big year for Huff, and go a long way towards showing us what the future may hold for him.