During the current offseason, we’ll be looking at all 316 players to appear in Houston’s system during the 2022 season.
I know that technically the offseason hasn’t started yet, but in order to get through every single player, I needed to start writing the day that the A-ball leagues concluded. This series is scheduled to finish on February 16, less than a week before pitchers and catchers are likely to report.
Omar Diaz is a six-foot-one, 180 lb. left-handed first baseman/corner outfielder from Santo Domingo, DR. Born on September 23, 2001, Diaz signed his first professional deal at the age of 16 with the Astros, on July 2, 2018. In a 56-game look with the Dominican club in 2019, he slashed .230/.343/.305 while getting time all over the outfield, especially in left, with 243 2⁄3 frames. In 518 1⁄3 innings of defensive work spread across five positions in total through that campaign, Diaz made exactly zero errors.
After the 2020 season was entirely eliminated due to COVID-19 restrictions, Diaz resurfaced in 2021 with the stateside rookie-level affiliate, the FCL Astros in the Florida Coast League. Twenty-nine games would see him hit .324/.451/.419.
This past season, Diaz has continued to play in the FCL, with the Blue squad. His slash line has dipped to .210/.329/.303 while Diaz has continued to gain valuable defensive experience from all over the outfield. Aside from 76 defensive innings at first base (.968), he played another 216 in the outfield, with at least 27 2⁄3 at each of the three positions, and appeared in 46 games.
Although Diaz’ offense suffered in 2022, he still had some pretty good stretches. In a four-game stretch from July 15 through 23, he went seven-for-16 with a double, two triples, and three RBI.
The Astros front office seem inclined to keep Diaz, so he’s probably going to start the 2023 season with the Fayetteville Woodpeckers in the Low-A South Atlantic League.
Sandro Gaston is a six-foot-three, 210 lb. power hitting catcher from Jovellanos, Cuba. Born on December 16, 2002, he signed with the Astros through free agency on November 3, 2021.
Defensively, Gaston threw out 22-of-55 base stealers at the rookie level with the DSL Astros Blue, a 40 percent kill-rate. He also spent a roughly equal amount of time in the field at first base, logging a fielding percentage of .974 (vs .970 behind the plate).
But Gaston isn’t really known for his defense, at least not yet. The slugger has a .319/.420/.688 slash line with a dozen homers in just 47 contests. He has 22 walks, 41 strikeouts, and 37 RBI to his credit.
From June 25 through 28, Gaston went seven-for-15 with four homers (one each day) and eight RBI through a four-game hitting streak. On July 12 in a 9-6 loss to the DSL CLE Blue, he smacked his eighth home run of the season, a grand slam (pic above).
Gaston’s a pretty exciting although unheralded prospect who I think we’re going to hear more about in the coming years. Look for a possible arrival in Houston around 2026 or 2027.