Last year the Astros Opening Day rightfielder was Brian Bogusevic. The former left-handed pitching prospect had shown some power potential in the second half of 2011 and Astros felt like he was their best option at the position. Bogusevic went deep in the first game of the season and it looked, for a moment, like the Astros had found lightning in a bottle.
Unfortunately, the rest of the season didn’t go as well for Bogusevic. He didn’t hit his second homer of the year until May 28th and totaled only seven longballs in 404 plate appearances. Most Astros fans had seen enough of Bogusevic by the beginning of June, but Brad Mills kept running him out there anyway. Management was dead set against outrighting Bogey to the minors for fear of losing him to another club. Once the season ended and Brian was sporting a puny .203/.297/.299 slash line the experiment was finally over. Bogusevic was released in November and has since signed with the Cubs.
Fast-forward to this season and it looks like a possible case of deja vu. Former pitcher Rick Ankiel is in Astros camp as a non-roster invitee and could very well be Houston’s Opening Day rightfielder. Like Bogusevic, Ankiel showed promise after making the transition to position player. But his success was somewhat short-lived. Ankiel has averaged less than .240 in each of the last four seasons and his slugging percentage has hovered around the .400 mark. Those simply aren’t the kind of numbers you want from a corner outfielder.
Both Jeff Luhnow and Bo Porter are familiar with Ankiel and I don’t think they brought him to Kissimmee for a casual looksie. Luhnow has already stated that Ankiel has a good chance to make the club. Frankly, I’d be surprised if he doesn’t.
Don’t get me wrong. I’d love to see Ankiel put it all together and have a great season with the Astros. But I think the odds of that happening are slim. Plus, if the Astros decide to keep him they will have to expose another (presumably young) player to the waiver wire. Let’s just hope that the Astros are a little quicker to cut their losses if Ankiel flops. As the saying goes, fool me once… well, you know the rest.