As if this season’s spring training wasn’t going to have a young feel to it already, today, the Astros ensured it would feel even younger. On Monday, Brian McTaggert announced that some of the younger and more promising prospects within the Astros organization will be invited to attend major league camp. This isn’t really a surprise as most clubs invite their promising youngsters to spring training so they can get the opportunity to become accustomed to a major league clubhouse. With the Astros rebuilding, seeing what these kids can do now provides the club with a chance to analyze their skills against mostly major league talent, which could help the process down the road and speed up their arrival in the big leagues.
Joining Jonathan Singleton and George Springer in Kissimmiee will be top shortstop prospect Jonathan Villar, former 1st rd pick Delino DeShields Jr, and OF Jake Goebbert. Of all the prospects being invited, Goebbert might be the closest to major league ready but with another outfield FA signing today, he joins a crowded position for the Astros. Given that, Villar might benefit the most and will be looking to make the biggest impact, hoping to impress Brad Mills and Jeff Luhnow. Villar has all the tools to be a legit all-star at the major league level but still needs time to polish those abilities. The Astros traded for Jed Lowrie this winter, hoping to create a smooth transaction to Villar down the road, without rushing the talented youngster. Deshields Jr. is nowhere near the big leagues but this does give him the opportunity to learn and absorb as much as he can from the older established players and coaches. Being the son of a former major league player, this should be a familiar and welcomed setting for Deshields Jr.
While Villar is sure to peak curiosity, Jonathan Singleton may be the most anticipated prospect to see time during Spring Training. A lot of Astros’ fans haven’t had a chance to see the first baseman in action since the trade that brought him to the Houston organization in July. Singleton is penciled in to be in Houston as soon as 2013 and this might an opportunity to get a glimpse of what to expect. He has a great swing and already shows a great eye and a good glove at first. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m excited to see how he handles the position and how the coaches view him because I think we will see him sooner than later.
George Springer may draw the biggest crowds from the fans as he is the most recent and possibly most talented prospect in all the system. Already labeled a five tool player, expectations are sky high and this is a very early glimpse at what he can do. I don’t expect to see Springer at the major league level anytime soon but it’s still fun to see what impact he could make during this period. Saying that, Springer should be penciled in for High A ball this season and we all saw last season how fast a prospect could move up but that was under a different regime and philosophy. Regardless, a spotlight will be shining on George and it should be interesting and fun to see how the kid responds.
In 2 weeks, all these guys will have something to prove but just the fact that fans will get to see and interact with the future stars of the organization is a treat. This is certainly an advantage of rebuilding, more opportunities open up and younger players can make their mark sooner. There is the potential to see an infield featuring Villar, Deshields Jr. and Singleton or an outfield with Springer roaming centerfield which should be exciting for everyone. With Villar, Goebbert and Singleton, there is a chance to make a true impression that could benefit them come September 1st or maybe even sooner.