Spring Training 2014: Astros make more cuts

J.D. Martinez, minor league standout, Major League washout

At TCB, we don't always agree with Baseball Prospectus' Jason Parks

But one thing, if nothing else, the man has right; prospects will break your heart.

On Saturday morning, the Astros announced the next round of roster cuts as they continue to trim down to just the 25 players they'll be taking with them to Minute Maid Park to face the Yankees on April 1st.

Infielders Gregorio Petit and Japhet Amador were reassigned to minor league camp, which effectively ends any chance Amador had of winning the first baseman's job (though that was virtually a foregone conclusion after he got a late start).

Also, left-handed pitcher Darin Downs, claimed off waivers from the Tigers last November, was optioned to minor league camp. This was also an unsurprising move, as Downs coughed up seven earned runs on 10 hits and four walks, while striking out none, in 9.1 innings pitched. Kevin Chapman and Raul Valdes are the remaining left-handed relievers in camp, and at least one of them is guaranteed to make the Major League roster now, barring injury or a last minute trade or signing.

The last one is the one that hurts, though; outfielder J.D. Martinez, a non-roster invitee, was released outright. For those of us who began to follow the Astros' minor league system in earnest once Ed Wade was allowed to sign draft picks again, the 20th round selection of the 2009 draft was one of the first bright stars that we saw as potentially being among the next wave of talented Astros.

Martinez burst onto the scene, making a mockery of short-season ball in the months after he was drafted. In 2010, he played 88 games for the Class A Lexington Legends and mashed, hitting .362/.433/.598 with 15 home runs. He was so good that he earned a promotion straight to Double A Corpus Christi, where he spent the last two months of the year.

After tearing up the Texas League to start 2011, Martinez was called straight up to The Show with Jose Altuve, bypassing Triple A entirely. He initially looked promising, as he hit ..274/.319/.423 with six long balls in 53 games to finish out the year, good for a solid 103 wRC+.

He faltered in both 2012 and 2013, and he continued to struggle in the minors after he was sent back down. He came into camp after reworking his swing from the ground up, but it wasn't enough; he hit .167/.250/.222 in 14 spring games this month, and with Robbie Grossman and Marc Krauss stepping up and George Springer looming on the horizon, Martinez's tenure with the team that drafted him came to an end.

This off season has seen the departure of Jordan Lyles, Brett Wallace and now J.D. Martinez. Just another reminder that for all the stats they put up and all the hype that builds around them, lots of prospects fall by the wayside. The Astros' active roster now stands at 34.

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