Sammy Gervacio and Brian Dopirak have both been signed to minor league contracts by the Houston Astros. The first, a side-arm throwing reliever, and the second, a righthand hitting first baseman, will both likely start at Triple-A and serve as insurance policies on more high profile players. These are two great moves for the Houston Astros. They’re cost efficient, low-risk high-reward, and fit with Houston’s stance of adding young talent to their farm system. I really like the Brian Dopirak signing. Dopirak is a power hitting first baseman who has proved himself at the Triple-A level. He can step in and help Houston at first if Wallace struggles or serve as the right-handed portion of a platoon with the left-handed Wallace.
Wallace will be given every chance to be the everyday first baseman for Houston but Dopirak is a minimul risk back-up with a potentially substantial ceiling. In 2004, Dopirak hit .301/.363/.593 and 39 homeruns in 137 games in Single-A and then entered 2005 as Baseball America’s 21st best prospect. Dopirak has certainly fallen from that elite prospect status but has still proven himself an effective hitter at every level of the minors. His career Triple-A line is .296/.331/.476 with 19 homeruns in 138 games. These aren’t stellar, but they’re more than passable; especially for a hitter who hasn’t yet had his 27th birthday.
I’m extremely pleased to see Sammy Gervacio back in the Astros organization. Gervacio was non-tendered earlier this month after injuries completely decimated his 2010 season and limited him to just 14 total innings between Houston and Triple-A Round Rock. However, it wasn’t long ago the sidearm hurler looked like a force at the back-end of Houston’s bullpen for years to come. In 2009, Gervacio got a taste of the big leagues and struck out 25 batters in 21 innings while posting a 2.14 ERA. Gervacio will most-likely come to spring training and then start the year at Triple-A to build up his arm strength. He’ll serve as a good source of bullpen depth throughout 2011.
Both of these players could be contributing to Houston’s major league club as soon as this season.