"For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land."
That's right. Spring is here. Spring training is finally upon us, when we can wash away the past year and get excited again about the 2013 Astros. Today, the Houston Astros will have all their pitchers and catchers report to start getting ready for a long season.
The pitchers will go through mostly throwing programs, getting loose, conditioning and then going through Pitcher Fielding Practice (PFP). On Saturday, the full team is set to report and things will really get rolling.
In the spirit of pitchers and catchers reporting, here are three pitchers and catchers to watch this spring:
The former University of Houston product had a down season hype-wise, but he still hit .254/.335/.390 overall with five home runs. He's posted pretty high walk rates in the past couple of years, and his defense has been praised in the past. He was one of the non-roster invites to big league camp and may end up at Oklahoma City next season, which means he could be an injury or two away from making his major league debut.
2) Josh Fields
Already on the 40-man roster, Fields was Houston's top pick in the Rule 5 draft this winter. He's got great stuff and should be a late-inning guy this year, but he's still an unknown quantity. Houston's last two pitchers they've taken in the Rule 5 draft (Aneury Rodriguez, Rhiner Cruz) haven't fared too well, but Fields has a much better reputation than either of them and could become a viable late inning guy (if Jose Veras is flipped at the deadline).
Another non-roster guy, Chapman is a great darkhorse candidate to be a lefty in the bullpen for Houston this season. He was acquired in the Humberton Quintero/Jason Bourgeois deal with the Royals last spring, and he's a power lefty who can strike a guy out here and there. He should be fun to follow this spring to see if he can make enough progress to break camp with the Astros.