Scottsdale, Arizona —— Entering play on Thursday night, Texas Rangers catching prospect Sam Huff is slashing .248/.323/.469/.792 over 36 games (145 at-bats) for the Arizona League‘s AZL Rangers, with seven doubles, two triples, seven home runs, and 16 walks against 53 strikeouts in that time frame here in his second year of professional baseball. I observed the young catcher several times last week when I was down in the Arizona League; below is Baseball Census‘ full Sam Huff scouting report, including several videos.
Sam Huff Scouting Report — Video
Our first video of Texas Rangers catching prospect Sam Huff shows him batting in an August 12 game against the AZL Diamondbacks at their facility in Scottsdale, Arizona:
And our second Sam Huff video shows him working behind the plate as a catcher — blocking, receiving, framing, throwing, and pitch calling in game action:
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Sam Huff Scouting Report — Notes
Any time you see a 6’4″ catcher, you remember him, and Sam Huff is an interesting physical specimen behind the plate considering his size. But even though tall catchers sometimes have a tough time receiving, framing, and blocking on account of their size and high set, I like Huff’s ability to move behind the plate and I think he may have a shot to stick there long term. The Phoenix-area high school product asserts himself well as a leader in that role, too, and right now he’s advanced in framing pitches and reading balls in the dirt to block. His arm strength is above-average, though his throwing mechanics will get long at times and he’ll need to iron out efficiency there to manage the running game in full-season ball. I like the way he manages games at this point in his career, though, and that’s something tough to teach this early; because of it, I think Sam Huff has a shot at being an intriguing fringe prospect down the road and the Texas Rangers may have themselves a good, workable ballplayer in another few seasons.
Offensively, Huff’s set-up at the plate is extremely simple, with very little stride, no leg kick, minimal weight transfer, and a short, compact stroke. He’s striking out a lot right now in his second year of pro ball, but he covers the plate well and I think he’ll prove to have better contact skills than he’s yet shown as he gets more at-bats as a professional. Also, interestingly, he has more power than you’d expect relative to his swing mechanics, having already slugged seven doubles and seven home runs in three-dozen AZL games this summer. That’s a nod to his impressive natural strength, and also to his ability to manipulate the barrel despite using relatively little leverage through his swing mechanics. I don’t know if he’ll end up with plus power as a projectable tool several years from now, but at this point, especially relative to his position, Sam Huff has a good offensive profile that’ll further improve his status in the organization. I’d love to see what he looks like with a more athletic stance and stride to take advantage of raw power, though that’s a big adjustment to make and it’d certainly further affect his contact skills.
The Texas Rangers have no shortage of guys near the big leagues who could become impact catchers to varying degrees (this one, and this one, are the two Double-A backstops that come to mind), and so a guy like Sam Huff is more of a lottery ticket on a very long development path. His size will forever be a question in the minds of evaluators, as he’s about six inches taller than your ideal catcher, but I really believe promising early returns will give him a shot to stick behind the plate so long as he can continue to prove he’s workable and athletic back there. If he doesn’t catch long-term, the Rangers could conceivably move Huff to first base (if he hits enough to warrant it, as he’s shown early) or let field, to take advantage of his encouraging bat as it develops. Above all, Sam Huff ought to be seen as a long-term project, though. He’s made big strides here in his second year of pro ball now, but has quite a ways to go before the conversation can really begin about how he’ll provide value to the Texas Rangers.
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