If you bet on Justin Ruggiano being the first Astro traded this year, then you are probably a rich man right about now. Just a few minutes ago, Alyson Footer tweeted that the Astros have traded AAA OF Justin Ruggiano to the Miami Marlins for Class A catcher, Jobduan Morales. She later tweeted that Morales will report to Astros extended spring training in Kissimee, Florida before receiving his assignment.
Justin Ruggiano was signed by the Astros after he was designated for assignment by Tampa Bay and elected free agency after passing through waivers. He was assigned to AAA Oklahoma City and played very well there as he batted a cool .325 with five home runs and 29 RBI to go along with five stolen bases. His acquisition gives the Marlins some outfield depth with Emilio Bonifacio expected to miss six to eight weeks with a thumb injury.
Jobduan Morales is an interesting player. A ninth round pick in 2009, Morales is a 20 yr old switch hitting catcher that hails from Puerto Rico. He is a pretty good hitter with above average plate discipline and a plus arm. He can also play some first base. Morales hasn’t had many plate appearances this season but he has shown some promise with his limited time thus far in his minor league career.
This looks to be a good trade for both teams. I had just written an article this morning reflecting our lack of catchers in our system. We were able to deal from a surplus (OF) and obtain a pretty decent catcher. At only 20 years old, Morales still has plenty of room to grow. Moves like this are what makes Jeff Luhnow a terrific GM. He just turned a 30 yr old minor league free agent into a pretty decent prospect for our system.