We all know that Carlos Correa is waiting in the wings as the Astros shortstop of the future. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the 19-year old in Houston by the end of the 2015 season. Until then, the Astros will have to make do with what they have and unfortunately, that’s not much. I don’t know about you, but Jonathan Villar, Marwin Gonzalez, Cesar Izturis and Gregorio Petit battling it out for the leader of the infield doesn’t do much to tickle my fancy.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY SportsThe favorite to win the battle at the start of Spring Training was the incumbent, Jonathan Villar. He came up from Triple-A last July and immediately took over the starting shortstop role with mixed results. Villar ended the season with a .321 OBP and 18 steals, primarily hitting out of the leadoff spot. He showed the ability to make phenomenal plays in the field with his tremendous range and strong arm. The 23-year old also showed the ability to strikeout in nearly 30% of his plate appearances, make bone-headed decisions on the bases, and consistently boot routine plays in the field (16 errors in 58 games). So far this spring, Villar has continued that trend and looks like he is working his way off the Astros 25-man roster.
That leaves Gonzalez, Izturis and Petit fighting for the spot. Of the three, Marwin Gonzalez is the youngest and is the only one currently on the Astros 40-man roster. While Spring Training stats mean very little, the 25-year old switch-hitter is also providing the most offense of the three thus far. He is batting .481 with six doubles and six RBI in his 27 spring at-bats.
Cesar Izturis has always been outstanding with his glove, and could be a great clubhouse guy, especially with the Latin-born players. His main issue is that he is a light-hitting 84-year old. Gregorio Petit is 29 years old and has only 56 career MLB at-bats. His last major league appearance was in 2009, with the Oakland A’s, when he batted .226 in 11 games.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY SportsMy prediction is that Villar will not be on the major league roster come Opening Day. While Marwin Gonzalez (or any other shortstop currently on the roster) doesn’t deserve to be the shortstop for the 2014 Astros, I believe he is the closest thing to a MLB shortstop the Astros have on the roster. Either Izturis or Petit will be added to the MLB roster in the utility/mentor role.
I know that none of these options are very exciting for fans, but look at the bright side; we don’t have to watch Ronny Cedeno kick the ball around Minute Maid in 2014!