Astros calling up catcher prospect Max Stassi

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Catcher has been one of the Astros’ few strengths this season, as Jason Castro has hit .270 with 14 homers and an .802 OPS to rank among baseball’s best, but with backup Carlos Corporan sidelined by a concussion Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports that Houston is calling up catcher prospect Max Stassi.

Stassi has hit .277 with 17 homers and an .863 OPS in 76 games at Double-A as a 22-year-old and the former fourth-round pick has also thrown out 37 percent of steal attempts. He’s one of the better MLB-ready catching prospects in baseball and may have been in line for a September call-up anyway, so the move makes some sense.

Beyond this year, however, it’ll be interesting to see what the Astros do with Stassi. Normally he’d be on a path to take over as the starting catcher at some point next season, but Castro is just 26 years old and coming off his first All-Star campaign. It’s one of those nice problems to have and the Astros need talent wherever they can develop it, but at some point fairly soon trading a catcher will seemingly be in the plans.

Japanese Baseball to begin June 19

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Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.

The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.

The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.

In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.