One of the main Astros spring training battles entering 2015 was who would be the number five pitcher in the rotation. It was assumed to be Mike Fotynewicz, but he was traded to the Braves for Evan Gattis. Following the Dexter Fowler trade, Dan Straily was the assumed fifth guy in the rotation based on the potential he showed in 2013. Astros fans were hoping that Mark Appel would make the jump from AA to the MLB, but an injury has slowed those talks down. Now, a dark-horse candidate is emerging from the shadows.
This player is quietly putting his best case forward to make the Astros rotation. He goes by “Wojo”, because most people mess up his last name, Asher Wojciechowski. In fact, people on Twitter were making fun of the Astros announcers butchering his name during the game on Monday. The Astros got “Wojo” from the Blue Jays, in the J.A. Happ trade in the ten-player deal.
His early carer has been slowed by injuries, especially last year where he was sidelined with a lat injury. He has spent the past two years in AAA. Despite missing time in both of those years, he has gained valuable experience in AAA. Of the Astros prospects, he is probably the most major-league ready.
“Wojo” displays his “Mojo” While it’s still early in spring training, Wojciechowski has been impressive so far. Scouting reports say that he lacks an out pitch, but makes up for it by being an extreme strike thrower. In Monday’s game, “Wojo” threw 17 pitches, all strikes, in three innings. With those 17 pitches, he allowed two hits and struck out three batters. Doing the math, three strikeouts is nine pitches and he threw at least two pitches to allow the hits. That takes his pitch count to twelve, leaving seven strikes for seven outs. That’s pretty effective. See what happens when you throw strikes Jarred Cosart! In two outings this spring, “Wojo” has pitched five innings of shutout ball, allowing three hits and a walk. He also has only tallied three strikeouts, but he focuses more on pitching to contact. After the game, “Wojo” relaxed with a special friend!
What are others rotation competitors doing so far?
- Dan Straily – In two innings pitched, he has allowed four hits and two earned runs.
- Roberto Hernandez – Made his spring debut Monday, after delays with his Visa to get into the country. He pitched two innings of shutout ball, giving up zero hits and two walks.
- Mark Appel – Appel was scheduled to pitch on Monday, but was scratched with forearm soreness. He has pitched two innings, allowing one run on three hits and zero walks.
There are other prospects who could be competing, such as Michael Feliz and Brady Rodgers, but they probably are not going to make the team out of spring training. It is still far too early to claim a winner for the fifth spot in the rotation, but “Wojo” appears to be making a strong case to be included. Brian wrote about all of the potential help the Astros have in the rotation if needed here.
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