Today the Astros announced their first wave of cuts, sending seven players to minor league camp. Two pitchers and five position players were reassigned and all will remain with the organization. None of the players have been released. That leaves a total of 57 players in big league camp. The roster will need to be trimmed to 25 by Opening Day.
This year the Astros waited a little longer than usual to make their first round of cuts. They wanted to wait until the minor league games started so players would be able to continue competing on a daily basis. The position players that were reassigned are Jake Goebbert, Marc Krauss, Chris Wallace, George Springer, and Delino DeShields Jr. Also heading to minor league camp are pitchers Sam Demel and Rudy Owens.
Jake Goebbert — The 25-year old outfielder appeared in four spring games and made only seven plate appearances. Goebbert hit .304/.399/.473 in 114 games at Corpus Christi last year before earning a promotion to AAA. Oklahoma City should be his likely destination to start the 2013 season.
Marc Krauss — Goebbert and Krauss have a few things in common. Both outfielders are 25 and spent most of 2012 at AA and had a cup of coffee in Oklahoma City. The difference is Goebbert is a better defender and more of a contact hitter. Krauss is more of a power threat who strikes out way too much. Krauss, who was acquired in the Chris Johnson trade last season, got more playing time this spring so the Astros could get a better look at him. In eleven games Krauss posted a slash line of .333/.412/.583. He should also be headed to AAA to start the year but could see some at-bats with the big club later this season as a designated hitter.
Chris Wallace — Wallace, who turns 25 next month was hitless in four spring at-bats. The catcher was brought to Spring Training mostly as an extra hand to handle the large contingent of pitchers in camp. After a couple of productive seasons in the lower levels of the Astros minor league system Wallace missed part of 2012 due to injuries. With the additions of Carlos Perez and Max Stassi, Wallace is no longer considered the top catching prospect in the organization. The University of Houston product will need to reestablish himself in the minors this season. If an injury creates an opening at the big league level we could possibly see Wallace brought up to fill the backup role.
George Springer — The Astros first round pick in the 2011 draft gave us a glimpse into the future with an impressive showing in Kissimmee. Springer drove in seven runs in eight games and launched a pair of homers in one contest. The five tool centerfielder should start the season at AA Corpus Christi. Jeff Luhnow has said he would like to see Springer spend a year at each minor league level but I get the feeling that Springer’s ability and performance will propel him to the big leagues ahead of schedule. Nothing this kid does surprises me any more. He can do it all on a baseball diamond and we could see him at Minute Maid Park as early as September.
Delino DeShields Jr. — The Astros first round pick in the 2010 draft is still only 20 years old. The speedy second-baseman gained valuable experience by appearing in 12 games with the big club this spring. DeShields finished last season with the California League Champion Lancaster JetHawks and will probably start 2013 with the Astros High-A affiliate. Delino could be bumped up to AA before long if he continues to excel.
Reliever Chia-Jen Lo remains in camp after the Astros first round of cuts (Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports)
Sam Demel — The demotion of Demel comes as no surprise to me. If the Astros decide to add Rick Ankiel and/or Erik Bedard to the roster, Demel is likely to be waived. At 27 years of age, the journeyman right-hander isn’t part of the Astros long term plan. However, if he stays with the organization we could see Demel brought up when the Astros need an extra arm in the bullpen.
Rudy Owens — I was actually surprised to see Owens reassigned. With the continuing struggles of Jordan Lyles and the health issues surrounding Erik Bedard it looks as though the Astros will need someone to step up and solidify the starting rotation. I thought Owens might be that guy. Owens got a chance but struggled in three spring appearances and has apparently fallen behind other rotation candidates. The lefty should be ticketed for Oklahoma City. The demotion of Owens is good news for the likes of Jarred Cosart, John Ely, Dallas Keuchel, Brett Oberholtzer, Brad Peacock, and Alex White.