The Houston Astros have announced nineteen non-roster invitees to their 2016 Spring Training, and the list is chock full of exciting players for Houston fans.
Headlining the list is top shortstop prospect Alex Bregman, who was drafted second overall in 2015 for a $5.9 million signing bonus. After a transitory 29 game period in Class A Ball Quad Cities, during which Bregman posted a .259/.368.330 slash line with a .333 wOBA and a 108 wRC+ while adjusting to the realities of professional baseball (like using wooden bats, for instance) and after having already played a full season for LSU which culminated in a College World Series appearance, Bregman was aggressively promoted to High-A Lancaster. There, his production jumped to a slash line of .319/.364/.475 with a .366 wOBA and a 126 wRC+ in 37 games.
And now, after 66 professional baseball games and 311 professional plate appearances, the Astros' consensus top prospect will be joining the parent club for what most Astros fans will hope is the first of many Spring Training campaigns.
It is, of course, a virtual certainty that Bregman will return to the minor leagues to begin the 2016 season. But seeing him so soon in Major League camp is a sure sign of how much the Front Office thinks of this young man - who is actually slightly older than Carlos Correa - and perhaps is an indicator that Bregman's time in Houston could be coming even sooner than many thought.
In all, the Astros announced 19 non-roster invitees to camp for the 2016 season today. Seven of these are pitchers, and twelve of them are position players. Here's a list, including their MLB.com rankings, which reads as a veritable who's who among the vaunted Astros farm system:
- 1B A.J. Reed (Astros No. 4 Prospect), 2015 MiLB Player Of The Year
Derek Fisher(Astros No. 7 Prospect)
Tyler White(Astros No. 28 Prospect)
- 3B Colin Moran (Astros No. 9 Prospect)
- 2B/OF Tony Kemp (Astros No. 10 Prospect)
- 3B J.D. Davis (Astros No. 11 Prospect)
- RHP Chris Devenski (Astros No. 16 Prospect)
- RHP Brady Rodgers (Astros No. 21 Prospect)
- RHP Brendan McCurry (Astros No. 29 Prospect)
- RHP Jake Buchanan
- RHP James Hoyt
- RHP Jordan Jankowski
- C Tyler Heineman
- C Roberto Pena
- IF Joe Sclafani
- LF Jon Kemmer
Also invited to camp were two players, who were each announced as having been signed to minor league contracts with invitations to camp: OF Eury Perez and RHP Cesar Valdez.
Perez, who is 25, was non-tendered by the Atlanta Braves this offseason after a 133 plate appearance sample size that saw him slash .269/.331/.303 in the majors in 2015. He was at one time a fairly well regarded prospect in the Washington Nationals system, and has posted a career slash line of .307/.358/.402 in more than 1,000 Triple-A plate appearances while showing center field-capable range, defensively. He is fleet of foot but doesn't offer much in the way of power.
Cesar Valdez (30 years old) hasn't pitched in the Major Leagues since a brief stint in 2010, but met with pronounced success in Mexico last season for the Olmecas de Tobasco, pitching 160 2/3 innings over 23 games started and striking out a robust (even considering the lesser competition level) 9.0 K/9 versus a 1.6 BB/9.
Both players appear to be long shots to make the 2016 Houston opening day roster, but they look to be outstanding additions from a depth perspective.
Noticeably missing from this list of non-roster invitees is Francis Martes, who is one of the top pitching arms in the Houston system. Many Astros fans are expecting that this talented young man will be impacting the Houston Astros at the top level very soon, and hopefully for years to come. Presumably the organization has a specific regimen in mind for Martes during the Spring, but there is no word as yet what will entail.
It should be an exciting Spring as the Astros close out their time in Kissimmee, Florida with a bang.
Get ready, Astros fans. We will all get to enjoy seeing much more of Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman taking grounders together very, very soon. In the meantime, I hope this video from when Bregman was signed and introduced in Houston will tide you over: