After a week’s worth of exhibition games it’s time to take a look at how things are shaping up. With several roster spots up for grabs, players will need to take advantage of every opportunity they are given. Jeff Luhnow and Brad Mills have told the players that competition is the name of the game this spring. The next week should provide the first round of cuts, so time could be running out for some.
Let’s take a look at the position battles thus far. Jason Castro, Chris Snyder and Humberto Quintero are all vying for playing time behind the plate. Surprisingly, Quintero is the one who has been unable to play due to injury and Castro looks to be fully recovered from his most recent surgery (knock on wood.) Castro caught six innings today and Quintero remains sidelined by a bulging disk. The Astros are hopeful that “Q” can catch a bullpen session tomorrow but this type of injury can be long-lasting. I wouldn’t be surprised if Quintero lands on the disabled list to start the season. Chris Snyder also appears to be healthy after undergoing back surgery last year. At 6’4″ and 240 pounds, Snyder provides plenty of pop with the bat and is also an above-average defender. Snyder has already blasted two homers and could see plenty of playing time come April.
The battle for the starting 3B job is also a three man race. Chris Johnson, Jimmy Paredes, and Brett Wallace have all seen time at the hot corner. Paredes got the start today, after missing time with a sore wrist, and hit the ball hard in all three of his plate appearances. Paredes also made a nice play on defense and is probably the front-runner to start the season at third. Johnson has held his own, going 4-11 with a homer and a double, and has also seen some action at 1B. Johnson has an early leg up on Brett Wallace, who is 1-7 with a walk.
In a crowded outfield J.D. Martinez, Jordan Schafer, and Brian Bogusevic have the inside track to the starting jobs. Martinez has cemented his spot with a great start at the plate. Brad Snyder is one of the players that has caught my attention early on. J.B. Shuck has also gotten off to a good start and Fernando Martinez has been hitting the ball hard. Jack Cust has yet to get a hit and some of the other candidates have seen limited playing time.
J.A. Happ has not been sharp in either of his two starts and his spot in the rotation could be in jeopardy. Lucas Harrell and Kyle Weiland have both been more effective than Happ thus far. Zach Duke will start tomorrow and Jordan Lyles will follow him to the mound. Both are still in the mix for the fifth starter’s job. Brett Myers isn’t the only Astros pitcher that has struggled in the bullpen. Rhiner Cruz, Aneury Rodriguez, and Henry Sosa have also taken their lumps. David Carpenter, Wilton Lopez, and Wesley Wright have each made three appearances and are on course to secure their spots in the pen.
Some of the hopefuls could be sent to minor league camp within a week. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a number of players shuttled back and forth between Oklahoma City and Houston this season until the Astros find the right mix.