Spring training is a great time for fans to get a glimpse of many of their team’s top prospects. Not all of these prospects are guaranteed a spot on the final 25-man roster; however this time can be invaluable as the youngsters learn the ways of the organization. Whether it’s taking at bats against a former Cy Young winner or picking the brain of a worldly veteran, spring training is a great opportunity to simply learn. Several of the Astros top prospects are getting the chance to experience time in big league camp. This review will look at the Astros Top 10 prospects that were invited to Spring Training.
1. Francis Martes, RHP (#1) – The crown jewel of the Astros farm system is getting his first taste of spring training with the big club, Martes is most likely destined to be in the rotation at AAA Fresno, there is a high likelihood that he will be pitching at Minute Maid Park later this summer. Manager A.J. Hinch and veteran OF Josh Reddick have already raved about what Martes brings to the table. Made his spring debut on March 1st, throwing 1.2IP allowing 1 earned on 2 hits with a walk. Will likely get more chances to make an impression before final cuts are made.
2. David Paulino, RHP (#3) – After making his Major League debut last season in an emergency start, Paulino got got off to a rough start. Paulino was still sent to the AFL where he earned back a little bit of his prospect shine. Has appeared in 2 games this spring with little success. Will head to Fresno to continue to obtain regular work and continue to improve a third pitch, but could see Houston again this season as a bullpen piece.
3. Derek Fisher, OF (#5) – Derek Fisher has participated in every game this spring getting on base at a .333 clip and stealing two bases. While there isn’t a high likelihood of Fisher making the team out of spring training with the glut of OF options, Fisher should still make his debut in 2017.
4. James Hoyt, RHP (#8) – Hoyt appeared in 22 games in 2016 striking out 28 in 22.oIP. He still maintains his prospect status as the 2017 season rolls around. Hoyt is fighting for a bullpen spot in a crowded field. Has appeared in one game throwing one inning and striking out two. Is a hard-thrower that has the ability to strikeout a lot of people. Hoyt should be able to permanently join the Astros bullpen near the all-star break.
5. Teoscar Hernandez, OF (#9) – Heading into the spring Hernandez was the prospect that had the best chance of making the OF rotation on the big club. Unfortunately, he has had a rough spring, striking out 4 times in 11 at-bats. Looks to be primed for an OF spot in Fresno.
6. J.D. Davis (#10) – Looks to receive a fair share of time at 3B once Bregman heads out to the WBC. Has had an impressive spring so far, hitting .300 with a .417 OBP.
Other Prospects of Note:
Colin Moran (#11) – Will take the other half of 3B reps with Davis. Very unimpressive in his ML debut last year, but worked this offseason to improve his bat-to-ball skills. Hitting .250 so far this spring with no extra-base hits.
Garrett Stubbs (#16) – Stubbs is the catcher of the future. Has not appeared in a game this spring, but has spent valuable time building his rapport with the pitching staff. Learning the ins and outs of pitchers like McCullers and Musgrove will only reduce the learning curve Stubbs will experience when he does finally make it to Houston
Ramon Laureano (#17) – The surprise of 2016 has three strikeouts in eight at-bats so far this spring, but has a bright future and will be patrolling the OF in Houston before long.
This is just a brief touch on a few of the Astros prospects in big league camp. The additions that the Astros made this offseason reduced the likelihood of any position players leaving Palm Beach to almost nothing. The pitching staff is much more wide open and players like Martes and Hoyt COULD earn a spot on that staff. The chances are not high, but, yes, I’m saying there’s a chance. I am looking forward to watching more spring training games and seeing more prospects get innings. The World Baseball Classic will allow several players to receive more playing time that in other seasons and that has the ability to let those players prove themselves. The rest of the spring should be exciting.