Infielder Angel Sanchez has been designated for assignment by the Astros. That could be good news for Rule 5 draftee Marwin Gonzalez. The soon-to-be 23 year-old Venezuelan is now the only true shortstop left on the roster to serve as a backup for starter Jed Lowrie. Matt Downs can also play the position and figures to be used at several different spots on the diamond this season.
Jeff Luhnow acquired Gonzalez in a trade with Boston after the Sox had plucked the SS from the Cubs organization. Rule 5 still applies to Gonzalez, meaning he will have to stay on the Astros roster all season or be offered back to the Sox. Gonzalez appeared in 42 games in Venezuela this winter, posting a .292/.341/.333 slash line. His .292 average was tenth best in the league. Astros scouts in Venezuela were also impressed with his defense.
Gonzalez looks to be a much younger version of Sanchez with a potentially greater upside. Gonzalez has more raw speed than Sanchez but has yet to master the art of stealing bases. The question has to be- is he ready for the majors? The Astros don’t have much to lose by giving him a shot. So, barring another transaction involving a shortstop, it looks like Gonzalez will be given a nice long look in Spring Training.