In 2006, Stassi competed for the United States national baseball team, winning gold in the Pan American Games in Barquisimeto, Venezuela.
Stassi, it seems, was destined to play baseball right from the start. His first gift at birth was a little glove and baseball bat. But really, it is his genetics that point to exceptional talent on the diamond.
Max is the latest in a long line of baseball talent in his family tree. His father, Jim, was a star at Yuba City High School in California, before playing three minor league seasons in the Giants' organization.
And Jim Stassi's father (Max's grandfather) and uncle both played for the Hollywood Stars in the 1940s. And their father (the great grandfather of Max), Sam Stassi, played for the San Francisco Seals. And, to top it off, Max's great, great-uncle, Myril Hoag, played 13 seasons in the 1930s and 1940s, including stints in the same Yankee outfield as Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio. Even Max's grandmother played baseball—not softball—for her high school team.
Max's older brother, Brock Stassi was a 33rd-round pick by the Phillies in 2011.
Max would show up to his father's high school practices at a young age, and nobody could keep him off the diamond.
"We put him right in BP groups and hitting stations," Jim Stassi, his father and coach of Yuba City High said. "We'd put him in defensive groups, and he'd work out like one of the players. Obviously, the older he got, the more he kept up with everybody."
In the 7th grade, Max started waking up at 5:15 a.m. with his father to lift weights with some of Jim's friends in the high school gym. Then, he'd go home and get ready for school.
Stassi has shown unique dedication to the game for his entire life. That is probably his greatest asset in baseball. He never gives up, showing true grit and a fierce competitiveness in every aspect of the game.
"I always go up there, and I'm going to give it 100 percent," Max said. "I'll block balls in the dirt, I'll do anything to keep that guy from moving up bases."
- Max has a quick wit and is quick with the wacky impersonations. He is a happy-go-lucky guy who likes to have a good time.
In 2009, his senior year at Yuba City High School, Stassi committed to UCLA on a baseball scholarship.
But he got drafted by the A's (see Transactions below).
In 2010, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Stassi as the 4th-best prospect in the A's organization. He was at #6 in the winter before 2011 spring training. But he dropped to #14 in the offseason before 2012 spring camps opened. And he was at #14 once again, in the spring of 2013. He was at #12 in the spring of 2014, then dropped to #20 in the winter before 2015 spring camps opened.
In 2016, he was at 19th-best in the Astros organization.
Max is a fan of both Pudge Rodriguez and Dustin Pedroia because of their dedication to the game.
- Stassi likes to go fishing in his free time. He also likes to skeet shoot.
Max is an enthusiastic, hard worker, intent on finding ways to better himself.
"He's high energy," A's farm director Keith Lieppman said. "Every time he gets hurt, he finds a way to get better. He just constantly works. That's the trademark of him, his work ethic."
MLB debut (Aug 20, 2013): Max became the 12th player in Astros' franchise history to record two or more hits in his Major League debut.
2013: Stassi partnered with local charities and created Homers for the Hungry, an event that required little more than his baseball skills and a generous audience with a willingness to donate. The premise of the charity was simple. Stassi and his brother, Brock, a player in the Phillies' system, staged a home run derby of sorts, seeing how many they could launch over 30 minutes. The batting practice pitcher? Their dad, Jim, who was a Minor League catcher in the 1980s.
This derby was designed to raise a ton of money from the start, given the circumstances. Picture this: two professional ballplayers, using aluminum bats, swinging for the fences … at a high school baseball field. In other words, those who pledged to donate knew they would end up writing healthy-sized checks. And they did, even those who chose to donate a flat rate. Between the two Stassi brothers, nearly 100 homers were hit: 48 for Max, 50 for Brock.
2016 Spring Training: Jim and Racquelle Stassi stood behind the Phillies' dugout at Bright House Field, surveying a scene that had them recalling those countless hours spent on baseball fields back home in California. Their son Max Stassi made the drive with his Astros teammates from Kissimmee to play the Phillies in a Grapefruit League game. He is expected to be Houston's backup catcher in 2016. Their son Brock Stassi is in Phillies camp as a non-roster invitee, fresh off a season that earned him the Double-A Eastern League MVP.
For the first time since high school, they saw their sons on the same field together. "It's kind of the culmination of all of those years," Jim Stassi said. "My wife and I said, 'No matter what, we're not going to miss this one.'"
Max and Brock played together on the same team in winter ball in Puerto Rico this offseason, but obviously Thursday was different.
This was the big leagues.
"It's pretty special," Max said. "It's kind of something you dream about ever since both of us have been drafted and playing against each other, and finally it's a reality. Even though it's Spring Training, it's still pretty cool growing up, and he's obviously my best friend and cool to be on the same field as him." (Todd Zolecki - MLB.com. - March 3, 2016)
2021 Season: Stassi’s season with the LA Angels was tough to evaluate. He was hurt for almost half the season, playing in just 87 games. In the 87 games he played in, however, he both did some good and some bad.
A .241 batting average is disappointing, but it’s not terrible for a catcher. His overall .241/.326/.426 line wasn’t inspiring and neither was his .752 slugging percentage. That being said, it’s tough to find a ton of catchers who really are producing at a really high level offensively.
Stassi had 13 home runs in those 87 games, which would have averaged out to 24 home runs in a full season. Again, not spectacular, but would have been solid for his position.
He drove in 35 runs, which we hope will improve. He did, however, prove he gels well enough with Shohei Ohtani to where Ohtani doesn’t need to keep Kurt Suzuki around to be his personal catcher. (Evan Desai - Oct. 19, 2021)
2022 Season: Right before the 2022 season kicked off, the Angels decided to extend Max Stassi on a three-year deal worth $17.5 million dollars. The extension included a club option for the 2025 season.
While the AAV isn't so bad, it might've been a little bit too soon for an extension based on his performance this season.
Stassi was an above-average hitter and defender at the catcher position in 2020 and 2021. He took major steps back in both areas this season, his first as the no doubt number one catcher.
In his 102 games played, Stassi slashed .180/.267/.303 with nine home runs and 30 RBI. If he had enough plate appearances to qualify, his 63 WRC+ would be the second-worst mark in all of baseball among qualifiers.
Teams can often deal with poor offense from the catcher spot if that catcher is good defensively. In the past, Stassi was good defensively. Last season he was in the 87th percentile in framing according to baseball savant and had 10 DRS according to FanGraphs. This season, he was in the 42nd percentile in framing and had 0 DRS.
Stassi was a -0.4 bWAR player which is something I did not expect after the season he had in 2021.
With the 31-year-old locked up and with there being so many holes on this Angels team I expect Stassi to be the number-one catcher to begin the 2023 campaign. Hopefully, he reverts back to his 2020 and 2021 form. (Zachary Rotman - Oct. 12, 2022)
Dec. 2022: Stassi committed to play for Team Italy in the 2023 WBC.
June 2009: The A's chose Max in the 4th round, out of Yuba City High School in California. In August, he signed with scout Jermaine Clark for $1.5 million.
February 5, 2013: The A's sent 1B Chris Carter, RHP Brad Peacock and C Max Stassi to the Astros; acquiring INF Jed Lowrie and RHP Fernando Rodriguez.
July 31, 2019: The Astros traded C Max Stassi to the Angels for RF Raider Uceta and RF Rainier Rivas.
Jan 10, 2020: Max and the Angels avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year deal worth $800,000.
Jan 15, 2021: Max and the Angels avoided arbitration, agreeing on a one-year deal worth $1.6 million.
March 26, 2022: The Angels signed Max Stassi to a three-year contract extension worth $17.5 million. The pact includes a $7.5 million club option with a $500,000 buyout for the 2025 season.
Stassi had already agreed to a $3 million contract for 2022 to avoid arbitration, but this deal buys out two of his free agency years, and possibly three if the Halos pick up the club option. He’ll earn $7 million in both '23 and '24.
|DOB:||3/15/1991||Agent:||Wasserman Media Group|
|Birth City:||Woodland, CA|
|Draft:||A's #4 - 2009 - Out of high school (CA)|
Stassi uses the entire field to line out hits. He has an advanced knowledge as a hitter. He attacks the ball and has above-average bat speed. He punishes mistakes but lacks the selectivity to hit for a high average.
He has good leverage in his compact swing with a balanced setup and plus raw power to all fields from his quick hands. He is learning to use his legs better in his swing. His forearms and wrists are very strong. His power is impressive.
Max is a real batting cage rat. He loves to hit.
Scouts don't like his open stance and how he swings and misses at too many pitches.
Stassi does a good job of laying off chasing the high fastball and chasing out of the zone more often. He has started to use the whole field a lot better.
Max tends to get pull-happy at times. And he will chase high fastballs.
Stassi doesn't adjust to the way pitcher's work him. He has no apparent two-strike approach.
Stassi's long swing leaves him overmatched when he's facing good velocity—94 mph or more.
Aug 7, 2020: “I feel a lot better after my hip surgery I had in the fall,” Stassi said. “My routine is totally different. Mindset, game plan, everything is a lot better. Obviously, a lot more confidence.”
Stassi had previous experience with assistant hitting coach John Mallee from their time together with the Astros and said he worked hard with fellow hitting coaches Jeremy Reed and Paul Sorrento to simplify his swing.
“The short version would be I'm hunched over a little more over the plate,” Stassi said. “Kind of a posture thing, so I'm able to get into my back hip and keep my posture level, versus getting too uphill. My lead arm is now down, so I can work directly towards the ball. And then, I'm just trying to rotate as much as I can.”
“Right now, he could not be shorter or more direct to the baseball,” Maddon said. “Real handsy. Ball to right field, that could have been a grand slam. Going from right field to left field, not just trying to pull the baseball, he’s reacting to it. He’s a good thrower, game-caller behind the plate, lot to like about this man.” (R Bollinger - MLB.com - Aug 7, 2020)
Max earns praise on defense for his proper mechanics and strong, accurate throwing arm. He is an outstanding receiver with a good feel for the game. He is polished and has good footwork.
- He has a strong arm, a quick release and impressive accuracy.
In 2010, Stassi threw out 34 percent of Midwest League base stealers.
In 2013, Max nailed 37 percent of Texas League base-thieves.
He is an average-to-plus defensive catcher with soft hands and a solid feel for calling a game. He takes charge of his pitching staff.
Max exhibits solid agility back there.
- Stassi handles the pitching staff well and calls a good game.
- Max has below-average speed. But he does not clog the bases.
Spring 2009: Stassi had a shoulder injury for about a month during his senior year of high school.
2010: Max was on the D.L. the last week of the season with shoulder problems that had been nagging him all year.
May 21, 2011: Stassi went on the D.L. and underwent shoulder surgery, missing the rest of the year.
April 10-May 2, 2012: Max was on the D.L. with an injured ankle.
August 11-end of 2012 season: Stassi was on the D.L. with an oblique injury that ended his season.
Feb 13-May 1, 2013: Max was sidelined in spring training. He underwent surgery to repair a detached muscle in his hip on February 27. He was rehabbing through the first month of the season.
Aug 22-Sept 23, 2013: Stassi was on the 7-day concussion D.L., then was transferred to the 15-day D.L. Tanner Schepper of the Rangers hit him in the face with a 96 mph fastball. He had no facial fractures, but it was a tough concussion for a few weeks.
March 21-May 6, 2016: Stassi missed time after undergoing surgery to repair a hook of the hamate fracture of his left wrist.
October 2016: Stassi suffered a concussion while playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic.
Aug 25, 2017: Max was on the DL for 10 days.
May 26-June 21, 2019: Max was on the IL with left knee soreness.
Sept. 2019: Stassi underwent hip surgery.
Aug 21-Sept 6, 2020: Max was on the IL with a right quad strain.
Oct. 14, 2020: Stassi underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left hip after the injury was discovered in an MRI exam at the end of the season. The timeline for his return is four to six months, which means he could miss the start of the 2021 season.
March 6, 2021: Stassi, who underwent left hip surgery after the 2020 season, is on track to make his Cactus League catching debut early next week, manager Joe Maddon said.
Stassi underwent a hip operation for a second straight year, as he had the same procedure done to his right hip after the 2019 season. He explained it was genetic condition in both hips similar to bone spurs, which caused him to need at least 30 minutes to warm up before he could get into squatting position.
April 13-28, 2021: Max was on the IL with a left thumb sprain. Stassi sustained a sprained left thumb on a foul tip against the Royals. Later, X-rays taken on Stassi's thumb were negative, but he was diagnosed with a sprain after undergoing an MRI exam. “It’s one of those things where he got hit by a foul tip and as a catcher, I’ve had the same injury and it gets the point where you can hardly put your finger in the glove,” manager Joe Maddon said.
May 6-June 1, 2021: Max was on the IL with a concussion.
- May 10-23, 2022: The Los Angeles Angels placed catcher Max Stassi on the injured list.