A few of the Houston Astros major prospects have made their major league debuts this season. Next in line is a pitcher who is purely dominating the highest competition of the minor leagues. Nick Tropeano will be in need of protection from the Rule 5 draft this offseason.
Now is a good time to make that decision.
At AAA-Oklahoma City, Nitro has a 3.12 ERA with 116 1/3 innings pitched while compiling an 8-5 win loss record. He was the Astros minor league leader in strikeouts for the 2013 campaign. So far in 2014, Tropeano has a batting average against of just .200 with 114 strikeouts against 32 walks.
Right now the only thing preventing Tropeano from becoming a MLB-er is the fact that he is not on the 40-man roster. There is also the “perceived” problem that the 40-man roster is full.
That idea is false. Frankly I find it absurd that some players are still on the 40-man roster.
The truth is that there are 40 names on that list. But several players should be relatively easy subtractions. Here are 5 players who are likely going to be removed from the 40-man roster this offseason. Why not now?
1. Brad Peacock – Peacock was acquired in a pre-season trade with the Athletics. While the trade has appeared to be a wash, the recent explosion of Chris Carter may make this deal look alright. Another post here at CTH further breaks down Peacock. Essentially the guy is stuck in a rollercoaster ride. Peacock has FIP and xFIP on his side being lower than his ERA of 5.47. Regardless all of these marks are north of 5.00 during 2014. Brad also has a hideous ground ball percentage of 35.8%. Designating him for assignment should be a very easy decision.
2. Paul Clemens – Another player acquired via trade that, in hindsight, does not look very good. Clemens has regressed from his rookie season. The one improvement he has made is reducing his HR/9; still a 1.8 ratio is absolutely horrible. Combine this with a sky-high walk ratio of 4.8 per 9 innings and it is not hard to see why the organization has shuffled him to the minors so much in 2014.
3. Rudy Owens – There is a common theme here. Some trades simply do not work out. Rudy has parts of 8 seasons in the minor leagues with a decent ERA of 3.52. However he should be able to find an opportunity elsewhere. He made an ugly debut earlier in 2014 and has remained in AAA ever since then.
4. L.J. Hoes – Perhaps a little unfair to him to replace an outfielder with a pitcher but a move has to be made eventually. The Astros are facing a problem of having too many outfielder. Not quite the level of stress that the Dodgers have had due to their situation. Still, the outfield is pretty crowded with Dexter Fowler, Jake Marisnick, and Robbie Grossman. One of them will lose his job when George Springer returns. Sure there will be the 4th and 5th OF roles. Ah, that gives us a fifth easy subtraction.
5. Marc Krauss – An excellent spring training is all but a memory now. Krauss has the versatility to play first base as well the outfield corners. But Hoes and Krauss are alike in that the Astros have a pretty overcrowded outfield. Krauss has a .204 career batting average. Maybe I’m pulling the trigger a little early because he has accumulated under 300 at-bats.
Only one of these moves would have to be done now. Other decisions are coming soon as well as Jesse Crain and Matt Albers will need to re-acquire a 40-man roster spot if and when they come off of the 60-day Disabled List.
Roster moves are inevitable. It is time that the Houston Astros release some of the players that will not return to the team in 2015.