Could Yeison Asencio be on the Astros Rule 5 Draft Radar?


Late Thursday night, the Astros set their 40-man roster. Well, almost. They set the roster at 39 players, meaning that they will have a pick in the upcoming Rule 5 draft on December 11th. The way the draft works is that teams that have vacancies on their 40-man roster draft from a select pool of players, in reverse order of how they finished the regular season. The Astros would have the 5th pick in the draft, due to their 2014 season, but the teams that finished below them all have filled rosters, giving the Astros the 1st overall pick. Nothing new for Houston.

There are many players that could fill a need for the Astros in this draft, but one intriguing option is Yeison Asencio, who was designated for assignment by the San Diego Padres late this week. Asencio is a Dominican-born 25-year old outfielder with some upside. While he typically played right field, he was given the opportunity to play some left as well in 2014, playing 34 of 138 games at the position.

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In his minor league career, Yeison Asencio hit .293 with a .332 on-base percentage. This comparison may be a little harsh, but in the minors, Asencio struck out just 227 time in 1,858 at-bats, or 12.2 percent of the time. Chris Carter, in the big leagues, K’d 518 times in 1.345 at-bats, or 38.5 percent. For the sake of reference, Jose Altuve struck out at an 8 percent clip in 2014, but has a career percentage of 11.5.

The Astros could use another player that hits for average, plays left field, and doesn’t strike out at an astronomical rate. Yeison Asencio could be that player. While he has only played 21 games at the Triple-A level, he did quite well, batting .333 with a .372 OBP, with 5 home runs, 15 rbi, and only struck out 10.4 percent of the time.

The tricky part in all of this is that any Rule 5 draft pick must stay on the team’s 25-man roster the entire season, meaning he would have to be in Houston for the duration of 2015, or be offered back to the Padres. The Astros are in an interesting situation. The are not expected to fully compete in 2015, so taking a chance on a player with some upside, especially in an area of need, is a risk well worth taking. Adding Asencio to the outfield mix would also put some pressure on the other outfielders to step up their game in order to make the team.

If the Astros draft Asencio, and and he makes the team out of Spring Training, that could also provide Houston with a trade chip in either Jake Marisnick, Robbie Grossman, or Alex Presley moving forward.

Is this the route the Astros will take? We’ll have to wait until the Rule 5 Draft on December 11th to find out.