MLB rules allow teams to increase their active roster from 25 to as many as 40 on September 1. Speaking with Matt Thomas on Sports Talk 690 Monday evening, Jeff Luhnow said Max Stassi and Jonathan Villar will be among a group of six or seven players that will be called up by the Astros next month.
Stassi, a catcher who came to the organization along with Chris Carter and Brad Peacock in the Jed Lowrie trade, had a big year at Corpus Christi last season and was called up by the Astros in August. Unfortunately, he suffered a concussion in his second game and played in only one more game the rest of the year. An outstanding defender behind the dish, Stassi posted an impressive .277/.333/.529 slash line in 76 games at AA last season. The results haven’t been nearly as good for Max this year at the AAA level (.239/.289/.354). But the Astros will need a third catcher for the stretch run and Stassi has been tabbed as that guy.
Shortstop Jonathan Villar will also be returning. Villar started the year in Houston but inconsistent play and a tendency for mental mistakes earned the 23-year old an extended visit to Oklahoma City. Once considered a top 100 prospect in all of MLB, Villar’s star has begun to fade. For all intents and purposes he has been passed up on the depth chart by both Marwin Gonzalez and Gregorio Petit. Villar is still one of the best base stealers in the organization and could be utilized as a pinch-runner when rosters expand.
Pitchers Anthony Bass, Paul Clemens, David Martinez, and Rudy Owens have all spent time with the Astros this season and are also likely to be recalled next month. Given the overall pitching depth in the organization, these guys could be looking at one last opportunity to stick with the club. Other pitchers who are already on the 40-man roster and could be given a look in September include lefty Luis Cruz and right-handers Asher Wojciechowski and Alex White.
Another name that Luhnow mentioned as a possible sixth starter down the stretch is Nick Tropeano. Ni-Tro, who turns 24 later this month, has enjoyed an outstanding season for AAA Oklahoma City. He enters tonight’s start against Sacramento with a 7-5 record, a 3.31 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in 108 & 2/3 innings pitched. Of all the players mentioned, Tropeano could be the most interesting. Nick figures to be added to the 40-man before November’s Rule 5 draft and is considered more of a prospect than any of the other pitchers on this list.