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AMP Mailbag: Callups and promotions

We have two questions in this week's AMP mailbag, both about the when, why and who of early season upward movement in the system.

Carlos "Captain" Correa, the Chosen One
Carlos "Captain" Correa, the Chosen One
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Note: I wrote this post an hour or so before last night's game, and then the rug was pulled out from under me as Springer was called up. Just my luck. After thinking about it, I've decided to leave it in-tact, because they were my opinions at the time and I'd rather have them out there than revise them, and I also wanted to get the props for Wates out there because I like him. So there you go. I will say that I would now peg one of the catchers as the next guys up; I think Springer being up really torpedoes Wates' chances until September roster expansion, barring injury making a move necessary.

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Question one from FreeRange
First position player to be called up? Pitchers are much more fluid.

I think George Springer is the low-hanging fruit here, and I'm going a different direction. After all, we pretty much know he won't be called up until a deadline is met. So as long as you think someone else will be needed prior to that deadline, then Springer can't be the answer.

It's a bit tough, but I'm going to go with Austin Wates. For those wondering, Wates is hitting .341/.442/.545 through 11 games. Much like Robbie Grossman and L.J. Hoes, Wates is something of a tweener in that he doesn't really have the range to be a regular centerfielder in the Majors, but he's not far off. So you could see him as one of the corner guys and spelling in CF occasionally. So far, Grossman hasn't done much at all, Presley has looked very unimpressive, and the Astros seemed to have decided that Hoes will never be more than fourth outfielder and platoon player.

So how much longer will they stick with the current setup in the Majors? I'm guessing Grossman has more leash as they're high on him thanks to his OBP abilities and a little bit of pop out of a switch-hitting approach. I can see Hoes demoted and Wates called up at some point in the near future. Wates is similar to Hoes, but he has a hair more power and I like him better on the bases, where he's 72-for-91 (79%) in his minor league career as a base stealer (Hoes is just 88-for-130 in his minor league career, for a 68% success rate). Hoes has played a lot more as well, which has led to Wates averaging 28 steals per 500 plate appearances, and Hoes just 16 per 500 PA.

Wates is also getting old, and will be Rule 5 eligible this off-season. If he keeps playing like he is now, some team is sure to nab him, knowing that his defensive versatility and base running ability will be something they can easily keep on their roster all year, even if he struggles at the plate initially.

Honorable mention goes to the two catchers, Max Stassi and Carlos Perez, who are both hitting well and appear to be MLB-ready or extremely near to it. I think Wates is the guy, but catcher is a rough position and Jason Castro has already been banged up a good bit, so you never know when another catcher might be needed.

Question two from Kyle Pierce
Over/under 25 more games for Correa at Lancaster?

25 games from the time of this writing would be the May 11 game against the High Desert Mavericks. I'll take the over on this one, though I'm as high on Correa as anyone you'll find.

Firstly, he'll still be 19 years old at that point, and as high as the Astros are on him, they also like to be careful with their prospects. A lot of people think Mark Appel could be in the Majors right now, but heck, forget AAA or AA, he's down in A-ball. The Astros seem in no rush to promote anyone, and with Correa being as young as he is, there is certainly no need for there to be a rush with him specifically.

Secondly, I'm sure people are thinking about Mike Foltynewicz last year, getting promoted to AA from Lancaster in a relatively short amount of time (seven games he pitched, or roughly 30-35 total games into the season). So the time frame of 25 more games would be right in-line with that. However, don't forget that Folty was 21 years old at the time, and that he had repeated Low-A Lexington the previous season. There's also the factor that the front office might be more inclined to move young pitchers out of Lancaster more quickly, before they suffer too much damage out there, but this is, admittedly, speculation.

And finally, Correa hasn't been stellar so far. At the time of this writing, he's hit .250/.314/.341 in 11 games. Now, another 25 games is a lot of time for him to break out and turn that around, and you won't find me betting against a kid like Correa, of all prospects, to do just that. But it's clear that, for as advanced as he is, he's certainly not a finished product yet, and spending a full half season in Lancaster, or even the whole year, could be good for him, and he, again, is still much younger than the rest of the prospects in that league.