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Spring Training Week Two In Review

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Some of the surprises and disappointments so far this Spring

MLB: Spring Training-Houston Astros at St. Louis Cardinals Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Not that if means anything, but the Astros were 3-3 since the last weekly update, and are 8-7 overall. But obviously, that’s not what Spring Training is all about.

Like every team, the Astros go into this season with question marks. For the Astros, these are: who will be the fifth starter? Who will be the lefty out of the pen, if there is one? Who will make the back end of the bullpen? Fourth/fifth outfielder and DH? Are the newbies adjusting to their new team? Who are the surprises? How are the top prospects acquitting themselves?

Let’s take these questions one at a time.

Fifth Starter

Brad Peacock continued to solidify his claim on the fifth starting spot, adding three more scoreless innings and two strikeouts to his Spring total of five and four. His WHIP thus far is .40. Framber Valdez improved on his first Spring appearance, going three innings, allowing one run on 3 hits, one walk (an important improvement for Valdez), with 2 K’s. In 6.1 innings Valdez has a 4.26 ERA and 1.74 WHIP.

Collin McHugh has had a slow start this Spring, missing a start with back discomfort, but coming back this week with a 2 inning performance, allowing 3 runs, and home run, but had sharp movement on his pitches and got three strikeouts. The most important part of his start was that he had no physical complaints afterwards, and hopefully he will continue to progress in the three weeks remaining in Spring training.

Needless to say, the anchors of the staff, Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, are on cruise control, Cole with no earned runs in six innings, and Verlander with one in 8.1 IP.

Relief Pitching

Going into Spring Training one of the more likely possibilities for left-handed reliever was Cionel Perez, but he has not yet pitched due to an injury issue. Although his control is problematic for a relief pitcher, Valdez could still be a candidate for the lefty relief role. The third candidate, Reymin Guduan, pitched two innings this week, allowing one run with two strikeouts. For the Spring he has five innings pitched, with a 3.60 ERA, one walk, an impressive nine strikeouts, and an even 1.00 WHIP.

Although it is still early in Spring Training, of some concern is Will Harris, who had umbilical hernia surgery over the winter. In 1.1 innings this week he allowed 3 runs, five hits and 2 walks.

Still looking for his groove is Hector Rondon who, in 2.2 innings so far this Spring, has a 10.12 ERA.

Hopeful signs came from Chris Devenski, who after giving bad flashbacks to August 2018 in his first appearance, allowing four runs in .1 IP, has pitched two scoreless innings since.

The most consistent relief pitcher this Spring so far has been Roberto Osuna, scoreless in four innings pitched with a 0.50 WHIP.

Outfield and DH

These are intertwined positions since, with five outfielders almost certainly confirmed for opening day, some of these outfielders will probably get at bats at DH. How many may depend on the performance of DH Tyler White.

Tyler White was JD Martinez last August, and had a similar streak in April 2016. He has not been consistent overall in his career so Tyler White is one of this year’s, and this Spring’s question marks. White was 0-6 this week, and is batting .190 with a .656 OPS so far this Spring.

If this continues all Spring, his playing time is threatened by Tony Kemp, who was 1-5 this week but had 3 walks. So far Kemp is making a loud claim on playing time, with a .520 OBP, and a .991 OPS for the Spring.

He’s not the only outfielder playing like his job depended on it. (because it might) Defensive and base running wunderkind Jake Marisnick had a good week going 3-7, and for the Spring has a .522 slugging percentage and .882 OPS. One encouraging feature in the Spring performance of this latest iteration of the new Marisnick is the low strikeout rate thus far; only 3 in 23 AB’s

If Kemp and Marisnick both disappear for some reason, Derek Fisher is also making a strong statement, hitting .905 OPS.

Josh Reddick continues his quest to improve on a lackluster 2018, hitting OPS 1.143 thus far.

It was reported earlier this Spring that George Springer was seeking advice on consistency from new Astro Michael Brantley. Thus far the lessons have failed, as Springer was 1-13 this week, and is currently hitting .626 OPS thus far in the Spring.

Expect a hot streak from George soon.

Newbies Watch

Robinson Chirinos: 1.074 OPS

Michael Brantley: .597 OPS

Aledmys Diaz: .305 OPS

Wade Miley: 8.1 IP, 2.16 ERA, 5 K’s 3, BB, 1.20 WHIP

Surprising Prospects

Pitchers

Brandon Bielak: Perhaps the pleasantest surprise this Spring is Bielak. In 7 IP he has allowed one run, with a 0.50 BAA and a 0.71 WHIP. He had three scoreless innings this week.

Cy Sneed: In 6.1 IP Sneed has also allowed only one run, with a .173 BAA and a 0.63 WHIP. This week he had two scoreless innings.

Brendan McCurry: McCurry has allowed one run in 5.1 innings, with a 0.63 BAA and a 0.88 WHIP. He had 2 scoreless innings this week with three K’s.

Hitters

Nick Tanielu: His 1.287 OPS in 25 AB’s is second on the team, and his 3 home runs is tops. This week he was only 1-6, but made solid contact in each at bat, and had a 3 run homer. He plays the wrong position at 3B, but if he continues this performance in the minors he could see a September call-up.

Abraham Toro: The switch hitting third baseman is hitting .857 OPS with one home run. He was 3-10 this week.

Garrett Stubbs: In 15 AB’s has a 1.175 OPS. This week in 2 AB’s he had two homers. He was sent to the minors today to catch for the pitchers in minors camp.

Top Prospect Watch

Yordan Alvarez: 25 AB’s .779 OPS, 5 BB, 6 K’s, 0 HR

Kyle Tucker: 23 AB’s .694 OPS, 2 BB, 7 K’s, 0 HR

Forrest Whitley: 8 IP, 2.25 ERA, 11 K’s, 2 BB, 2 HR, 0.88 WHIP

J.B. Bukauskas: 5 IP, 1.80 ERA, 5 K’s, 3 BB, 0 HR, 1.00 WHIP

Corbin Martin: 6.2 IP, 2.70 ERA, 4 K’s, 2 BB, 2 HR, 1.50 WHIP

A.J. Reed Watch

Time is running out. .616 OPS in 24 AB’s. He was 3-7 this week.