Japhet Amador, who has been in his native Mexico dealing with his wife’s illness, will make his spring debut today.
Amador was playing for the Diablos Rojos de Mexico (Red Devils) of the Mexican League when his rights were purchased (along with outfielder Leo Heras) by the Astros in early August. He reported to AAA Oklahoma City and proceeded to hit .302 in 43 at-bats.
While the portly 27-year-old might be seen as little more than a sideshow act, Amador could provide value at designated hitter and first base. He’s shown strong power and on-base splits in the Mexican League over parts of seven seasons, with 36 home runs and an OPS of more than 1.100 in 2013.
Apparently Amador’s size doesn’t limit him in the field. According to John Sickels, Amador saw more time at first base with occasional starts at designated hitter.
That said, it would take some attrition to the positional talent for Amador to carve out a role in Houston. Jesus Guzman and Chris Carter could platoon at first base, while Carter and others like Marc Krauss and Jason Castro (on days off at catcher) will rotate at DH. When Jon Singleton makes his way to Houston, he pushes everybody else down a notch, as he wouldn’t be recalled to make spot starts.
With his late start in Kissimmee, it seems Amador could be ticketed back to Oklahoma City to start 2014. A pressing family issue and potentially greater opportunity back home could have him back in Mexico, should playing time not open up for him in the Houston system.