A month into the start of his professional career, Garrett Stubbs is still getting used to all.
It has been a bit of a whirlwind over the past month for the Quad-Cities River Bandits catcher who was selected by the Astros in the eighth round of this year’s draft.
After helping lead USC to its first NCAA tourney berth in a decade, the Del Mar, Calif., native was honored at the Futures Game as the winner of the 2015 Johnny Bench Award, presented to the top catcher in college baseball.
He started his professional career at short-season Tri-City, batting .235 over 11 games before being promoted to the Midwest League and the River Bandits on July 16.
"The past few weeks have been full of new experiences," Stubbs said. "It’s all been good, though, learning what it means to be a professional."
Last week, that even included a late-night team meal purchased from the shelves of a Wal-Mart after a game at Kane County took 15 innings to complete and resulted in nearby restaurants being closed for the evening by the time the River Bandits left the stadium.
As manager Josh Bonifay put it, the Lunchables were flying off the shelves.
"I’m learning it all," Stubbs said.
He’s not alone.
Before shortstop Alex Bregman was promoted to high-A Lancaster on Monday, five players from this year’s draft class had worked their way onto the Quad-Cities roster.
For each of those players, the experiences are new and Bonifay said gaining an understanding of the daily routine is equally as important as what transpires on the field.
"The biggest thing they need to accomplish is to get acclimated to the way the Astros do things and the expectations the organization has for them," Bonifay said. "They’ll get good experience this year, but we don’t worry as much about the results as we do getting them accustomed to the training program and the routine."
Stubbs said moving into a clubhouse filled with players who have helped Quad-Cities play better than .600 baseball this season has been a benefit.
"It makes the transition easier to be around a winning environment," he said. "The guys here play the game the right way. They work hard and it creates a good atmosphere to learn in."
Bonifay likes what he has seen from Stubbs, who was named the Pac-12 defensive player of the year after throwing out 52.8 percent of the baserunners who attempted to steal on the Trojans this season. He also batted .346 and led USC with 20 steals.
"He’s doing a great job for us behind the plate; he’s called good games and has handled our pitchers well," Bonifay said. "It’s easy to see why he was drafted where he was."
Stubbs continues to adjust offensively. He has hit .160 through seven games with Quad-Cities, but has struck out just once in 25 at-bats.
"I’m getting used to swinging with the wood bat and I’m working every day to learn and become a better player offensively," Stubbs said. "I’m fortunate to be surrounded by good coaches who are helping me and I know that part of my game will come around."
For most, this season’s professional experience follows a 60-game college season.
Stubbs, listed at 5-foot-10, 175 pounds on the River Bandits roster, has dropped 20 pounds since the start of his college season in January.
One of his offseason objectives before the start of next year’s spring training will be to put that weight back on and make strength gains that will prepare him a 140-game schedule.
"I know that next year I will have my body ready for that type of a season," Stubbs said. "I had prepared myself for 60 games, but when you tack another 60 onto it, that makes a difference. I’m learning that now."
For now, that’s what it is all about.
"The experiences I am getting here this year will only help me heading into next season," Stubbs said. "It’s all going to benefit me and my career in the long run and that is the most important thing."