The vampires strike again.
MLB.com reporter Brian McTaggert is reporting the Astros are preparing to call up outfield prospect Domingo Santana, along with infielder Enrique Hernandez, and left-handed reliever Kevin Chapman. This comes shortly after the news of Jonathan Villar's demotion and Jerome Williams' designation for assignment.
Domingo Santana, will become the forth and final player from the 2011 Hunter Pence to make to the majors for the Astros. He joins Jarred Cosart, Josh Zeid, and Jon Singleton. Santana spent a full season in high-A Lancaster in 2012, Double-A Corpus Christi in 2013, and started the season in Triple-A Oklahoma City out of Springer Training. With the RedHawks this season, Santana is batting .304 (97-319) with 49 runs scored, 22 doubles, 13 home runs, 52 RBIs, 40 walks, and 99 strikeouts. Santana was ranked ninety third in MLB.com top 100 prospects before the 2014 draft, and seventh among Astros' prospects.
Enrique 'Kike' Hernandez was an Astros' draft pick in the 2009 draft out of Puerto Rico. Hernandez gained the reputation as a super utility player as he moved up the minor league system. He made the jump from Double-A Corpus Christi to Triple-A Oklahoma City after just ten games this season - Kike hit .325 (13-40) with nine runs scored, three doubles, and five RBIs in those games. He has done even better in OKC - .337(89-264), 41 R, 17 2B, 8 HR, 31 RBI.
Kevin Chapman made the 2014 Opening Day roster for the Astros as the lone left-hander out of the bullpen. The lefty made six appearances in his first stent with the club - 3.2 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 2 HR, 7 BB, 6 K. He also had one blown save in his lone opportunity. Chapman was optioned on April 17 to Triple-A Oklahoma City. With the RedHawks, he pitched 28.2 innings with a 0.94 ERA, 21 walks, and 37 strikeouts.
Yes, there is much excitement for another prospect arriving to the bigs and there should be. But, these moves now raise more interesting questions. I assume Hernandez will take Jerome William's spot on the 40-man roster, so all three call-ups are covered in that aspect. Now the 25-man roster, Brian McTaggert brings up a good point - Anthony Bass is expected to be activated Tuesday. Thus you have four players joining the major league team, and only two spots for them. Is Dexter Fowler going to the disabled list? Is anyone else? What about a trade?
There also some other bigger picture questions that this moves creates. The front office were in lockstep with the message that prospects would be called up they were absolutely ready. The Astros wanted the players experience winning at every level. Sure everyone and their mother knew George Springer was ready when he came up. Jon Singleton filled a need at first and signed an extension before he played a game, so he got the call. Can that be said of Santana, is he ready?
Houston Chronicle's Evan Drellich posted a story less then 24-hours ago titled "Santana not quite ready to make the jump to the majors." The crux of the story was about Santana's need to cut down on his strike outs before he gets called up. Drellich talked with Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow about Santana -
"Domingo still has some developing in Triple A from our perspective," general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "The profile doesn't really fit what we need right now. We're really excited about what he's done, and I think the higher average at a higher level has been clearly a sign of better development and of him becoming a more complete player. But, the profile of the feast or famine is not something that we want to continue to have."
That doesn't sound like a general manager ready to call up a prospect, so what changed? Pressure from above? A trade? Change in philosophy? Either way, I suspect these next 24 hours will be interesting.