Could Joe Sclafani Be in the Mix For the Astros in 2015?
Over the past couple of weeks, I have put together a couple of potential scenarios regarding the Houston Astros. One of them have involved Matt Dominguez on the trading block, while the other elaborated on Evan Drellich’s report that Marwin Gonzalez could take over third base if Dominguez doesn’t grab the position in 2015. It’s time for another option, this time, with Astros’ utility prospect Joe Sclafani.
Last month, I wrote a piece detailing Joe Sclafani’s achievements in the minors, and in the process of learning about him, became a fan. Last season Sclafani split time between Corpus Christy and Oklahoma City. In the 98 combined games, Sclafani played 31 games at third base, and held a cumulative .315 batting average and a .384 on-base percentage. The one thing Joe Sclafani didn’t do a ton of? Strike out. In 336 at-bats, he struck out just 40 times. While his 11.9% strikeout rate isn’t quite Jose Altuve‘s 8%, it would be a welcome change to a Houston lineup that struck out in 26.47% of their at-bats.
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So how does Joe Sclafani fit into the Astros’ plans? Off the bat, he doesn’t. Yet, there is one scenario that could work to his advantage. Let’s say that Matt Dominguez struggles this spring, and Marwin Gonzalez is set to take over third base duties, with Dominguez relegated to Triple-A to work on things. Houston could use another MarGo type, and Sclafani fits that bill. Yes, Sclafani played 31 games at third, but he also played some second and short, with some time in the outfield for good measure.
Sclafani’s defense is lacking at the hot corner, with third being his worst defensive position (.908 fielding percentage in the minors), but if his manning third was an option the Astros were to consider, he would likely receive some one-on-one time with the big league coaches this spring. Of course, second base is Sclafani’s best defensive position, but Jose Altuve has that one under control. With the addition of Jed Lowrie, shortstop is likely not up for grabs either. Yet, Marwin Gonzalez isn’t exactly a sure bet to win the third base job.
If both MarGo and Dominguez struggle during spring training, and Joe Sclafani puts on a show, then he may play himself into a spot on the 25-man roster. Is it a long shot? Of course. Yet, with Rio Ruiz and Colin Moran a year closer to being major league ready, showcasing Sclafani could make him lucrative trade bait in the future.