Spring Training 2014: Who Was the Biggest Surprise?

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Grapefruit League play has concluded and the 2014 regular season is right around the corner. Which Astros player surprised most with their Spring Training performance?

25 games is not a lot of time to evaluate MLB players, especially when 73 different guys got into games for the Astros this spring. Scouting reports are rarely used and the games don't count, so as you've probably heard, don't get too excited and don't get too worried based on a player's spring performance.

But when someone puts together a string of impressive performances, it's difficult to deny that the given player has some talent. Let's look at who was the most pleasant surprise this spring. (The disappointing performer will come on another day.)

Yes, this actually was a tough decision as multiple Astros stuck out, but from an unexpected standpoint Anthony Bass had himself an outstanding camp. Bass was acquired from the San Diego Padres in exchange for the Astros first overall pick in this year's Rule 5 Draft.

The very open competition for pitching spots allowed for many candidates to be considered and Bass took advantage by allowing only three earned runs in 11 innings. The 6'2" righty converted two saves in as many chances, but the most striking statistic was Bass 14 strikeouts to zero walks.

The 14 strikeouts with Bass' nasty slider is encouraging, but the zero walks is even better. In 2013, Bass walked 20 batters in 42 innings and for his MLB career he has posted a 10 percent walk rate.Chad Qualls, Matt Albers, Josh Fields and Bass have all looked good this spring. Maybe, just maybe, this bullpen will be a strength of the team.

Plus, that Rule 5 pick the Astros gave up to get Bass? It turned into Patrick Schuster who did not make the Padres and was placed on waivers. Nice little deal by Astros management.

Here are the other guys that made Bass a tough pick:

Marc Krauss dominated in early games with 11 hits in his first six games, including five extra-base hits and two home runs. But after the hot start, the big left-handed hitter was three for his last 22. Krauss did walk six times as well.

Marwin Gonzalez was playing for his job this spring and did it wonderfully, slashing .396/.388/.542 with seven doubles in 48 at-bats. The infielder's inspiring spring allows him to stay on with Houston for a little longer, despite the fact he certainly isn't involved in the Astros larger future plans.

Robbie Grossman piggy-backed off a strong second half of the 2013 season to have good start to 2014. The Astros starting left fielder pounded 17 hits in 47 at-bats including five extra-base knocks leading to a No. 2 spot in the Houston lineup. But for fans of Bob, this wasn't very surprising.

Back on the mound, Fields, like Bass, didn't walk a batter all spring. The hard-throwing reliever struck out six and allowed one earned run in seven innings pitched.

And if you'd like to get more excited about the arms coming through Houston's system, check out Mike Foltynewicz's spring in which he allowed two earned runs in 10.1 innings. The big number for the improving Folty is the one walk he issued in his five appearances as he continues to work on his command.

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