Earlier in the week I started our series of “player card” posts with an article covering Astros 2012 MVP Jose Altuve. Consider it an electronic baseball card of sorts, complete with a forecast of what we believe the future holds for each player. As we continue our march alphabetically through the 40-man roster it’s time to talk about Hector Ambriz.
Ambriz pitched collegiately at UCLA and was originally drafted by the Diamondbacks in the fifth round of the 2006 draft. Having never made it to the majors with the D-backs, Ambriz was selected by the Cleveland Indians in the Rule 5 Draft prior to the 2010 season. Ambriz would make 34 appearances for Cleveland that season before being sidelined by elbow problems.
The Astros signed Ambriz last June after he was released by Cleveland. The right-handed reliever made 18 big league appearances down the stretch, striking out 22 batters in less than 20 innings.
The Astros must like what they’ve seen from Ambriz, as they have elected to keep him on the roster over Mickey Storey. Although we have only a small sample size to go by for both pitchers, Storey’s numbers are a little better. I think the thing the Astros like most about Ambriz is his velocity.
After missing all of 2011 due to Tommy John surgery, Ambriz posted an average fastball velocity of 93.7 in 2012. The Astros are somewhat lacking when it comes to hard throwers out of the bullpen. Rhiner Cruz (95.1) and Fernando Rodriguez (93.8) are the only Astros relievers who consistently threw harder than Ambriz.
At 28 years of age, Ambriz can no longer be considered a prospect. Personally, I don’t see him as a long term solution to the Astros bullpen woes. He is more of a placeholder for now as the team continues to look for relief help. How long Ambriz sticks with the club could be dependent upon the development and/or addition of other perspective bullpen arms.