We’re taking a brief look at each player to appear at any level of Houston Astros baseball in 2022.
Enmanuel Valdez is a five-foot-nine, 191 lb. infielder from San Juan de la Maguana, DR. Born on December 28, 1998, he agreed to his first professional deal with Houston back on July 2, 2015, to a contract that included a $450,000 signing bonus.
From his signing the deal through the 2021 season, Valdez made stops at every level of Astros baseball short of Triple-A. Most recently, he hit .256/.367/.512 in 23 games for the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks in 2021 with five home runs and 18 RBI.
The 2022 season would start for Valdez still with the Hooks. Right from the jump, he was tearing the cover off the ball. He started the year on an eight-game hitting streak, going 14-for-34 with five doubles, two homers, and nine RBI. On May 22, he hit a single and two home runs with five RBI in a 7-6 loss to the Frisco RoughRiders.
In what seems like a misprint, Valdez notched 20 multiple hit games through his month-and-a-half at the level. Through 44 games, he was just tearing the ball apart, with a .357/.463/.649 line, 11 homers, and 45 RBI.
Valdez’ ridiculous offensive output necessitated a promotion to the Triple-A Sugar Land Space Cowboys. In his first appearance at the new level, on June 7, he smoked two solo shots in a 6-4 loss to the Oklahoma City Dodgers. Valdez collected multiple hits again in 14 of his 40 Triple-A appearances with the Cowboys, slashing .295/.355/.548 with another 10 jacks and 32 RBI.
On August 2, Valdez was bundled with Wilyer Abreu to the Boston Red Sox for Christian Vázquez. By then in the Triple-A International League with the Worchester Red Sox, Valdez slashed .237/.309/.422 in 44 contests to close out the season.
Ruben Garcia is a six-foot-four, 220 lb. right-handed pitcher from Port St. Lucie, FL. Born on August 2, 1996, he was a 14th round choice of the Baltimore Orioles in 2016 out of Eastern Florida State College. Taken with the 421st overall pick, Garcia could still someday be the seventh to make the majors. The group is currently led by RHP Louis Coleman (3.8 WAR).
Garcia rose through Baltimores system slowly, peaking at the High-A level after four seasons. Somewhere between July 31, 2019 (assigned to High-A Delmarva Shorebirds) and May 4, 2021 (assigned to High-A West Michigan Whitecaps), he changed from being an Oriole to being a Detroit Tiger. After another year, the Sugar Land Space Cowboys claimed him off waivers on December 8, 2021.
Garcia pitched in a total of five games for the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks for Houston in 2022, and it wasn’t pretty. He walked nine and struck out six in 4 2⁄3 innings, giving up nine runs on eight hits. After those five games, he had a 17.36 ERA, a .364/.531/.591 opposing slashline, and a 3.643 WHIP. Sensing enough, the Astros moved him to the development list on May 1, then released him outright on June 7.
Garcia later signed a minor league deal with the Kansas City Royals, but was released after one appearance at the rookie level.
Valdez may someday see major league action, but I think that ship may have sailed on Garcia. Thanks for reading, and Happy New Year.