Carlos Correa (David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports)
This should not be coming as a surprise, and it is not official yet, but Spring Training should be a very exciting time for the Houston Astros and their fans.
Of the three, I think Springer is the only one who has a legitimate chance at making the Astros out of Spring Training. The argument could have very easily have been made that the top-prospect deserved to spend some time in Houston last season.
Between AA and AAA last season Springer appeared in 135 games and hit for a .303 average. While that certainly should be noted, what really excited the Astros and their fans was Springer’s 37 home runs, 108 RBI’s, and 45 stolen bases. Minor league seasons really don’t get much better than that.
Having Springer be a part of a Major League Spring Training and facing improved competition will only go towards helping with his development. If Springer can prove himself this spring and prove not to be over matched, then I don’t see a reason how he can be kept off the Opening Day roster.
While Appel could probably fit right into the Astros’ rotation to begin the season, he would probably be better served starting the year in the minor leagues. After pitching for Stanford last season prior to being selected by the Astros, Appel made ten minor league starts. The first two start came with Tri-Cities followed by eight with Quad Cities after being promoted to A-ball.
With Quad Cities, Appel pitched 33 innings and recorded a 3.82 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP to go with a 3-1 record while striking out 27 batters. Going from A-ball to the major leagues directly would be a big jump for Appel, and even though he is likely capable of it, it is just not prudent. However, spending time facing major league hitters in Spring Training would be a good thing for his development.
Correa spent the entire season with Quad Cities in 2013 and proved why he was the number one overall pick in 2012. The shortstop prospect batted .320 with nine home runs and 86 RBI’s, scoring 73 runs and stealing ten bases. He is still likely two years away from Houston, but Correa is certainly on the fast track. He will likely be one for the first cuts in Spring Training, but the experience will prove to be valuable.
"“I think a lot of (the prospects) got a taste last year, being able to come to Minute Maid Park and playing in the exhibition games,” Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said Monday. “Anybody on the (40-man) roster’s going to be there. There’s going to be several of our prospects invited. It’s an opportunity for them to really understand what it takes to make a big league club and also stay at the big league level. To know the staff better, and have the staff know them. And learn from guys like Scott Feldman and Cesar Izturis and guys that have had success in the big leagues. See how they go about their business."