We Have Found Kyle Weiland; He Will be at the Minor League Mini-Camp
By Ray Kuhn
Lance McCullers (David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports)
Now that all of the Houston Astros have been accounted for, with the exception of Japhet Amador, Spring Training is in full swing. Friday marks the first game, against the Atlanta Braves for the Astros and there will finally be actual games to follow.
The big, and most well known, Astros prospects have already reported to Kissimmee and are taking part in the major league camp. This experience will be vital for players like Carlos Correa and Mark Appel, but there are plenty of other young players that we should not lose sight of entering 2014.
Those players are highlighted on the list of invitees for the Minor League Mini Camp the Astros are holding that begins February 24th. That will go until March 3rd when the remainder of pitchers and catchers report followed by the first day of full squad workouts on March 7th.
Here is the full list of players who will be taking part in the Mini Camp.
"Rodgers, Brady RH starterRollins, David LH starterCain, Colton LH starterBallew, Travis RH relieverVelasquez, Vincent RH starterMcCullers, Lance RH starterThurman, Andrew RH starterWestwood, Kyle RH starterFeliz, Michael RH starterEmanuel, Kent LH starterHader, Josh LH starterSanudo, Gonzalo RH starterLee, Chris LH starterSogard, Alex LH relieverCATCHERS POSPena, Roberto CHolberton, Brian CMorales, Jobduan CBooth, Brett CINFIELDERS POSGregor, Conrad 1BKemp, Tony 2BFontana, Nolan SSMoon, Chan SSWhite, Tyler 3BRuiz, Rio 3BOUTFIELDERS POSHernandez, Teoscar CFPhillips, Brett CFREHABILITATION POSWeiland, Kyle RH starter"
For me, these are players here that stand out as names Astros’ fans should remember; Lance McCullers, Josh Hader, Nolan Fontana, and Rio Ruiz. Of course this is not to discount the other names on this list as they are young players with varying degrees of potential moving forward, but these are the biggest names.
Last season McCullers spent the year with Quad Cities (A-ball) and was 6-5 in 25 games (19 starts) with a 3.18 ERA and 1.35 WHIP. McCullers struck out 117 batters in 104.2 innings and looks to spend a good portion of this season in Corpus Christi. The 20-year old has clear potential as a strikeout artist.
Hader is an interesting arm who the Astros acquired in the Bud Norris trade last July. The 19-year old left-hander made 22 starts last season in A-ball between both the Baltimore and Houston organizations going 5-6 with a 2.77 ERA and 1.26 WHIP while striking out 95 batters in 107.1 innings.
Fontana spent last year with High-A Lancaster and hit .259 in 104 games with eight home runs, 60 RBI’s, 16 stolen bases, and 18 doubles. If Carlos Correa ultimately ends up making the move to third base, then Fontana could be part of the long term solution at shortstop.
The Astros drafted Ruiz in the fourth round in 2012 using some of the savings they realized by drafting Carlos Correa to convince the third baseman not to go to college. Ruiz played alongside Correa in Quad Cities last year hitting .260 in 112 games with 12 home runs and 63 RBI’s.
And then there is the Kyle Weiland sighting. The right-hander won a job with the Astros with a strong showing in Spring Training in 2012 and made three starts before getting injured. Weiland has not been heard from since, but it looks like he is on his way towards returning to the mound in game situations.