Almost exactly a year ago the Astros acquired Rule 5 draftee Marwin Gonzalez from the Red Sox. Boston had selected Gonzalez from the Cubs organization and his Rule 5 status was still in effect. That meant the Astros would need to keep him on the big league roster for the entire season or risk losing him. The shortstop was able to stick with the club all year and is still on the 40-man roster.
Marwin Gonzalez (Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports)
The Astros liked Gonzalez as an outstanding defender and a switch-hitter who could hopefully provide at least Adam Everett type numbers on offense. His numbers had continued to improve as he advanced through the minors, giving the Astros reason to believe Gonzalez was worth the risk.
Gonzalez hit .234/.280/.327 in 219 plate appearances for Houston. These numbers were a tick below his minor league stats, but in the same ballpark with Everett’s career numbers.
Gonzalez spent considerable time on the disabled list with two foot injuries during the season. The first injury cost him most of the month of June and part of July. The Astros were able to hide him on the AAA roster for a while as he rehabbed the injury. Gonzalez missed the first three weeks of September after aggravating the injury, but returned to make a handful of appearances down the stretch.
To get ready for 2013 Gonzalez is playing winter ball in his native Venezuela. Things haven’t gone that well. Marwin is hitting .180/.282/.230 in 61 at-bats for Caracas, but he hasn’t played since December 6th.
I would have to make Gonzalez a long shot to make the Astros Opening Day roster. Although he might just be the team’s best defensive shortstop, both Jake Elmore and Tyler Greene are more accomplished hitters. Barring a trade of one of the Astros middle infielders, I expect Gonzalez to start his age 24 season at AAA Oklahoma City. If he can find his stroke, we could see Marwin back in an Astros uniform some time this season.