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Oops! All Astros: Cesar Salazar

Cesar Salazar is yet another solid depth option behind the plate for the Astros.

MLB: MAR 20 Spring Training - Nationals at Astros Photo by Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Oops! All Astros is a series where we’re taking a look at all 316 players to appear at any level of Houston’s system in 2022.

Cesar Salazar is a five-foot-nine, 185 lb. catcher from Hermosillo, MX. Born on March 15, 1996, he was a seventh-round pick of the Astros in 2018, out of the University of Arizona. Taken with the 222nd overall selection, Salazar could be the eighth to make the majors out of the group. Out of the group, only Coco Crisp (28.9 WAR) has a WAR figure above zero.

Salazar made his way up through Houston’s minor league system bit by bit, splitting the 2021 season between their three highest non major league levels. In 2022, he opened the season with the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks. He started the season out with a bang, collecting multiple hits in three of his first four appearances. That includes April 12, when he hit three singles and a home run, totaling three RBI and scoring four runs in an 11-4 win over the Midland RockHounds.

Salazar spent his first 22 games of the season with the Hooks, hitting .277 with three round trippers and 14 RBI. On May 18, he joined the Triple-A Sugar Land Space Cowboys. Although he collected multiple hits three times during 17 games with the affiliate, including a pair of three-hit efforts, he only managed one extra base hit (a double) through the stretch. Hitting just .203, the Astros sent him back down to Corpus Christi for the rest of the season.

At the lower level, Salazar’s bat once again woke up. He resumed his Double-A effort with a seven-game hitting streak, during which he hit .462 and slugged .885 with three home runs and 12 RBI. On June 26, he hit a single, a double, and a home run with three RBI in a 7-0 win against the Amarillo Sod Poodles. On August 14, he went deep twice with three RBI in a 10-4 loss to the Wichita Wind Surge.

In his 63 games through his second hitch with the Hooks, Salazar again hit .277, but slammed 13 jacks with 40 RBI. in 102 games overall, he slashed .265/.338/.445 with 16 home runs and 60 RBI. He stole eight bases in 11 attempts, and drew 29 walks against 71 whiffs in 417 PA.

Defensively, Salazar played 538 23 innings behind the dish between the two clubs, with a .989 fielding percentage and a solid 34 percent kill-rate on runners trying to steal. He also pitched in with 142 innings at first base (.991), 52 innings in left field (1.000), and 26 innings at second base (.929).

Far from sitting pat, Salazar played 41 games in the Mexican Pacific Winter League through the MLB offseason for Naranjeros de Hermosillo. He hit .232/.309/.282

When discussing depth options at catcher, we here in the TCB comment section tend to default to talking about Korey Lee and Yainer Díaz, and to a lesser extent, Luke Berryhill. Salazar is an oft-overlooked option. He is invited to major league Spring Training. Currently fifth on Houston’s depth chart, it’d be interesting to see if he can jump a few spots and surprise everyone. Thanks for reading.