It is being reported this morning that Jason Castro's injury—first thought to be a meniscus tear—is actually a torn ACL, and he will be out for the majority of the 2011 season. This is a major blow to the Houston Astros and their chances this season.
Jason Castro, the Astros 10th overall pick in the 2008 draft, was called up in the middle of last season and took over the starting catching position. He did struggle at the plate, hitting only .205 with two home runs and eight runs batted in, but he did prove that he is an above average defensive catcher. He caught 18 out of a possible 49 base-stealers, which means he caught 36.7 percent base stealers. He also had a fielding percentage of .996.
The Astros were going to rely heavily on Castro this season and were planning on him being a big part of this team. The question is, what do they do now about the catcher position? They currently have two catchers on the roster who have significant major league experience in Humberto Quintero and former top prospect J.R. Towles. The problem is that, combined, the two catchers have a .221 average and 21 HRs.
Right now, J.R. Towles will most likely get the majority of playing time as he will be given one more chance, and most likely his last, to prove to the Astros that he can become the player many thought he could be. Before this injury, he did not have much of a chance to make the Astros' roster as a catcher and started taking ground balls at first base.
Towles has had a real fall from grace in only a few years. Heading into the 2008 season, Baseball America had J.R. Towles ranked as the 53rd best prospect and was ranked around players like Joey Votto and Austin Jackson. In other words, Towles has demonstrated at one point that he does have talent; hopefully he can demonstrate that talent this season.
Humberto Quintero is best as a back-up catcher as he provides better defense behind the plate than Towles and last year worked well with ace Brett Myers. However, I hope GM Ed Wade is working to contact free agent Bengie Molina and get him in with the Astros. Molina would be a great fit for this team as he has a lot of veteran experience, a couple of World Series rings and could really help the Astros' young pitching staff.