Top prospects Paul Clemens and Jonathan Singleton were among nine players sent to the Astros minor league camp today. Clemens and Singleton are both a big part of the Astros future but will be better served playing regularly in the minors rather than being rushed to the big leagues. Both players impressed the Astros brass this spring with their performance and work ethic. The two promising youngsters are on track to become key components for the franchise, but not just yet. Clemens should be in the starting rotation at Oklahoma City and Singleton could be ticketed for Corpus Christi. Favorites of the staff here at CTH, we have recently done feature articles on both of the future stars.
We have seen plenty of young players make their big league debuts in Houston over the past couple of seasons, providing a ray of hope in an otherwise dismal period for the franchise. It doesn’t look like that is a trend that will continue. The new regime in town is committed to developing prospects in the minor leagues at a pace that is geared more towards long-term success.
At 24 years of age, Clemens is almost ready. After being shuffled between the bullpen and the rotation for most of his career, the Astros organization has determined that Clemens is best suited to be a starter. Getting the hard-throwing righthander to the mound every fifth day is a top priority at this stage in his development. If he continues to shine, we could see Clemens in the Astros rotation come September.
Singleton, on the other hand, is only 20 years-old and spent last season at the high-A level. The first-baseman has progressed at a nice rate in his two seasons of pro ball and is rated as the #34 prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America. A move up to AA will be the next test for Singleton and we’ll be keeping an eye on his progress.
Seven other players were sent to minor league camp today along with Clemens and Singleton. The list includes catchers Rene Garcia and Chris Wallace along with outfielders Brandon Barnes and Jake Goebbert and infielder Diory Hernandez. Pitchers Juan Abreu and Lance Pendleton were also on the list. Abreu is the only one that had a realistic chance of making the Astros Opening Day roster. Some had pegged Abreu as a candidate for the closer’s role prior to Brett Myers being given the job. Abreu had an outstanding season at the AAA level last year and earned a late season call-up to Houston where he continued to impress. Abreu is another player to keep an eye on. He could be back in the big leagues sooner rather than later.
With the exception of Abreu, the rest of the cuts are no surprise. These players all got caught up in the numbers game as the Astros will take a longer look at some of the more experienced players in camp. That leaves 49 players in camp with exactly three weeks to get that number down to 25.