Several Astros players and prospects are playing winter ball this offseason. One of those players that you may not be familiar with is Joe Sclafani.
Sclafani, 23, is currently playing for the Adelaide Bite of the Australian Baseball League. He is hitting .389 through the first ten games and has an OPS approaching the 1.000 mark. Sure, it’s a small sample size and we’re not sure exactly what his level of competition is “down under”, but Sclafani has to be commended for his work ethic and dedication. Brandon Barnes parlayed a successful winter in Australia into a shot at the big leagues… and it paid off. Maybe Sclafani can do the same.
A Dartmouth graduate, Sclafani was a 14th round pick by the Astros in 2012. Getting a bit of a late start to his professional career, Joe is a little older than a lot of the players he has been competing against. That makes it a little harder to project his future, but Sclafani has already opened some eyes with his skill set.
Sclafani stands 5′ 11″ tall and weighs in at 190 pounds. He is a switch-hitter and was originally drafted as a shortstop. Joe has also learned to play both second and third base during his brief minor league career. As a top of the order hitter Joe has shown excellent on-base skills. Sclafani has an outstanding 107/102 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 182 minor league games.
Sclafani isn’t one of Houston’s top prospects but there is a lot to like about him. Given his versatility, I think Sclafani will be an interesting player to keep an eye on in 2014. After splitting last season between Quad Cities and Lancaster, Joe could be ticketed for Corpus Christi this April. The youngster could even get a chance to show his versatility with the big club in Spring Training. For more on the Astros infield prospect, check out this interview from Jayne Hansen at What the Heck, Bobby?