College football season is over, and there are no Texas-based teams left in the NFL playoffs, which for most means that it’s time to start concentrating on Astros baseball (unless of course the Rockets have a game that day).
Jose de Jesus Ortiz tweeted yesterday morning which Astros prospects would be invited to spring training, and which, oddly enough would not be.
Carlos Correa and Mark Appel headline the list, ranking #1 and #2 in the Astros’ deep farm system. In the article he wrote on the topic, Ortiz says, “One year after inviting 65 players to camp, the Astros currently have 56 players scheduled to attend spring training. That tally will likely increase, but Luhnow doesn’t expect to have more than 60 players in camp this year.”
Ortiz also says that the smaller group at spring training will allow Astros’ new manager A.J. Hinch the opportunity to evaluate talent more thoroughly. The group that has been invited doesn’t have too many players that will likely make the team when camp breaks, but there are a couple of options.
One option is Joe Sclafani, who, if you’ve read anything I’ve written about him, know that I’m a big fan of. As a utility player whose stock has risen with a strong 2014 season as well as a strong Arizona Fall League showing, Sclafani has an outside chance to overtake Jonathan Villar. Maybe that’s the fandom talking, but Villar has struggled, and with Marwin Gonzalez a possibility at third, and Jed Lowrie able to hold down shortstop, the Astros may need another utility player on the roster.
For Colin Moran, this camp could expedite his path to the majors with a strong outing. A lot of his path will depend upon which Matt Dominguez shows up this spring, and how confident Hinch is with MarGo at third. Of course, spots on the roster may open up for players like Preston Tucker, if Jon Singleton continues to struggle, or if Dexter Fowler is traded before opening day.
Bringing in three catchers that aren’t Jason Castro, Hank Conger or Carlos Corporan signifies that Jeff Luhnow is planning on trading a catcher (big surprise) and wants Hinch to get a good look at what he’s working with.
This should be a very exciting camp to keep an eye on. With so many moving parts that could influence who will make it to Astros opening day, who could be traded, and which prospects are ready for the next step. 38 days until pitchers and catchers report to Kissimmee!