Travis Buck is another outfielder looking to catch on with the 2012 Astros. Buck was signed as a minor league Free agent back in early November when Ed Wade was still at the helm. The new regime has kept Buck around and will give him a chance to impress this spring.
Buck is a left-handed hitter who was originally a first round pick for Oakland in 2005. Buck had an outstanding rookie campaign in 2007 but has struggled ever since. The Athletics eventually gave up on Travis, allowing him to become a Free Agent prior to last season. Buck signed with Cleveland and hit .228/.275/.342 in 50 games with the Tribe in 2011.
Buck is a career .303 hitter at the minor league level, but doesn’t possess the power desired for a corner outfielder. Buck has a decent 19% line drive rate in the majors, which could be the main reason Luhnow and company have decided to give him a look.
Jeff Luhnow has stated that there will be plenty of competition for jobs in Spring Training. But, barring injury, I fully expect J.D. Martinez, Jordan Schafer, and Brian Bogusevic to be chasing down fly balls in Minute Maid Park on April 6th.
I think Buck is somewhat of a longshot to make the team considering the players he will be competing against. I feel like his preferred role is as a left-handed pinch hitter. Jack Cust would appear to be a better candidate for that role given his superior power and ability to reach base. J.B. Shuck is also a lefty and has more of an upside defensively. Jason Bourgeois brings his base stealing ability to the equation, making him a more desirable option than Buck, in my opinion. Some have suggested that Buck will make the team as the fifth outfielder, but I think he’s ticketed for AAA. Buck can provide some depth within the organization and serve as an option to be called up when other players are injured or struggling.