Friday, February 26, 2010

Astros Catcher J.R. Towles To Try Doing It His Way

Having established himself in the minors as a .300 hitter with power, it had been a simple progression for former 20th round draft pick J.R. Towles to win the coveted "catcher of the future" mantle three years ago for the soon to be rebuilding Astros.

But somewhere along the line, Towles became overwhelmed, hitting only .149 over the past two seasons in what has become more and more limited playing time.

"I just listened what a lot of people said and I got overloaded," Towles told "I'm just going to go back to what got me here. Go back to the basics."

At 26, Towles can consider himself lucky, for most players with his track record would find themselves demoted to the minors again, perhaps permanently. But with the Astros still rebuilding, and super thin at the catcher position, Towles has been blessed with yet one more opportunity to impress.

Competition at the team's Grapefruit League camp at Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee, Fla., has pitted him against fellow backstop Humberto Quintero, with whom he will share time either as the starter or the backup.

Barring injury or a total breakdown in performance, neither player appears to be destined for the minors just yet, which buys time for Towles. He must rediscover himself soon, for Stanford product Jason Castro, 22, is waiting in the wings.