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The Expendable Hitters; Who the Astros can ditch, and who needs to stay.

It's been an interesting time in Houston, with many big prospects coming up to the big leagues. In this article, I'm going to take a look at the current 40 man roster, and see who could be here for the long haul, as well as who may be expendable.

Catchers:

There are only two catchers on the 40 man roster as of now. However, there are three spots available on the 40 man, one of which may be filled by a prospect catcher come September. My bet would be on Max Stassi. Stassi has been on a tear as on late, hitting 6 home runs in his last nine games at AA. Now, let's look at the two catchers currently on the roster.

Jason Castro: Castro has been a pleasant surprise this season, earning the Astros all star selection while hitting .261/.320/.454. For the Astros to have future success, I feel Castro will have to be a mainstay behind the plate in Houston.

Carlos Corporan: Corporan has provided solid offense to fill in at catcher when Castro needs an off day. He could be available to be traded, as many teams could use another catcher, most notably the Cardinals, Blue Jays, Pirates, and Mets. If no move is made, the Astros still have a valuable asset to back up Castro behind the plate.

Infielders:

The infield is going to be improving over the next few years, with Jon Singleton, Rio Ruiz, and Carlos Correa working their way through the system. Until then, the infield is a bit weak.

Jose Altuve: Altuve has arguably been the Astros best player. He has compiled an average over .280 in three seasons in the majors, while also developing his speed (24 steals this season). Altuve should not be moved as we near the trade deadline. He can be a solid hitter at the top of the order for many years to come, and could move into a group of Astros greats if he maintains the level of performance that he has shown thus far.

Matt Dominguez: Though Dominguez has been solid this season, he is likely the most expendable player in the infield. He has some trade value and, with the arrival of players such as Singleton and Ruiz, the corner infield positions are likely to become very crowded. Dominguez could be moved to a team looking for a third baseman. For me, the Padres, White Sox, and Indians could have interest in the defensive third baseman.

Jake Elmore: Elmore's ceiling at this point is fourth outfielder or backup to Villar and Altuve. His time is limited. My guess is a DFA. My one guarantee is that Jake Elmore will not be on the Houston Astros roster come Opening Day 2014.

Marwin Gonzalez: Gonzalez is in a situation similar to Jake Elmore. The former Rule 5 draft pick filled a starting role for a short time before better players moved in and took the spot away, sending him to the minor leagues. Gonzalez has a ceiling as a utility man who may be valuable off the bench. However, he doesn't seem to fit with Houston. His time is limited.

Brandon Laird: Laird has been solid with OKC this season, but he does not have much value in the majors. The corner infield spots are covered, and he isn't nearly good enough to take the spots away from Dominguez or Wallace. He, like Elmore, will be gone by next season.

Jonathan Villar: Villar is the prospect that Astros fans have been waiting for. He has impressed in his first few games, showing great contact and speed. Villar should be Houston's shortstop for years to come.

Brett Wallace: Brett Wallace has a batting average just above the Mendoza line, and is only holding the starting job until Jon Singleton gets called up. Wallace could be trade bait to pick up a prospect, and I wouldn't be too surprised to see Wallace traded by the beginning of next year.

Outfielders: Houston, we have a problem. Outfielders have been a weak point this season. There are many great prospects such as Springer, Santana, and Tucker on the horizon. For now, this is what Houston has.

Brandon Barnes: I like Brandon Barnes. I really do. He has the hustle and spirit that the team needs. He reminds me of a young Hunter Pence. Just minus a lot of the talent that Pence had. Barnes has shown flashes of talent, from hitting a walk off earlier in the season to hitting for the cycle just last week. However, he has not shown the consistency needed to hold a starting job. I do think, after Springer and the others come up, Barnes could be a great fourth outfielder for the Astros, and I think the team sees the same thing I do. Barnes will be staying on the roster.

Trevor Crowe: Crowe has seen limited time this season due to injury. What we saw wasn't too impressing. In 70 at bats this season, Trevor Crowe hit exactly .200 with a slugging of only .286. He'll be gone by the end of the season, if not sooner.

Robbie Grossman: Grossman was a highly touted prospect who disappointed in his time in Houston, hitting .198 before being sent down to Oklahoma City. With the current outfield prospects in the system, Grossman doesn't have much of a place with the team. He will spend some more time in the minors developing his skills, but for now he doesn't have much value in the big leagues.

Marc Krauss: Krauss is another prospect who has been disappointing through his first 41 plate appearances, with an on base percentage of .195. With such a small sample size, Krauss will spend some more time in the big leagues through September. Krauss showed great stats in the minor leagues, and if he can convert those skills to the majors, he could earn a starting job in the future.

JD Martinez: Martinez has been a pretty solid outfielder for Houston, hitting just over .250 and showing some flashes of power. He will be on the roster for awhile if he keeps up his level of play, and has the skills to be on a few more Opening Day rosters if he can stay consistent.

Justin Maxwell: Maxwell has struggled with injuries his entire career. I would love to see what he could do in a season if he was healthy the whole way through. The Astros may take another year or two with him to see what he can do when healthy.

Jimmy Paredes: Paredes was another highly touted prospect who didn't live up to expectations. He has hit a career .233 and hasn't consistently shown the skills that he was said to have. I doubt he will be on the roster by next season.

And finally...

Chris Carter: Carter has been very good this year, showing some great power. I expect him to be designated hitter for years to come.

I would love to hear anyone elses thoughts on this. I look forward to your comments.

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