Holberton’s versatility could take him far

The young Houston Astros catcher has lots of options going forward

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Versatility seems to be the name of the game for Houston Astros minor league catcher Brian Holberton.

Catching prospect Brian Holberton, 21, has high expectations for himself as he takes part in his first minor league training camp in the Houston Astros system.
Catching prospect Brian Holberton, 21, has high expectations for himself as he takes part in his first minor league training camp in the Houston Astros system. (Craig Hagerman/Toronto Observer)

Whether it is between his academic career and baseball, to what position Holberton takes when he hits the field, it seems the 21 year-old backstop from Cornelius, North Carolina will have a bright future wherever it may take him.

Holberton played his college ball at the University of North Carolina where he also majored in business, hoping that if baseball doesn’t work out to follow in his father’s footsteps.

“I had an internship at a Hedge Fund last year that I didn’t get to go to,” says Holberton. “I mean my dad worked on Wall Street so I’d probably follow him.”

Academics have always been very important to the young catcher. Coming out of high school he had planned to only leave UNC if he was drafted in the first round, understanding the importance of school. However, after being selected in the ninth round last year, this season Holberton has made the decision to report to minor league camp.

“Yea that was out of high school, and it definitely was [my thought]. I guess I was a pretty good student,” the Astros farmhand said. “I went to business school, so it was kind of a tough decision, but definitely worth it to come here.”

Besides the versatility to take his career in different directions, it seems even on the field that Holberton has many options about where he can fit on the field.

During Holberton’s time at UNC, the college utility player was used in various positions from second base and outfield to catcher – where he has been slotted to play at Astros camp. Holberton’s movement around the diamond came as the Tar Heels had to make adjustments to injuries, as well as his love to be on the field.

“It was just playing where I could,” Holberton said. “Kids would get hurt and I would just kind of fit in, just trying to get into the lineup to keep playing. I would play wherever.”

Though the ability to go from one position to another might come harder to some players, for Holberton the transition between them hasn’t been a big issue.

“There are definitely different skills, but I’ve been playing my whole life so I’ve been going back and forth,” he said. “And here I’m just catching.”

Astros minor league camp opened Monday morning and since it is just Holberton’s first minor league camp it’s hard to tell exactly what the future has in store for the young catcher, but expectations are high for the former Tar Heel.

Though he could have a future career in business it is clear that Holberton would prefer to be at the ball park as he stated simply, “I just like being on the field.”