Astros Spring Training Surprises

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Each spring training, teams experience surprises.  Whether good or bad, that is the one thing that every team knows they will get as they warm up for the upcoming baseball season.  Let’s take a look at some of the good and bad surprises that the Houston Astros have seen in the early going.

Jon Singleton was someone that everyone had on their radar this spring to see how he would respond to a rough first year in the big leagues.  Would he come out flat or rejuvenated?  Well, so far, Singleton has burst out of the gate to a tune of a .429 batting average including 5 doubles and only 3 Ks in 14 at-bats.  This is a welcome sight for Astros fans who saw Singleton struggle last spring and that seemed to follow him into the season and contribute to his dismal .168 average in 2014.  Evan Drellich, Astros beat writer for the Houston Chronicle, tweeted that Singleton’s bat has looked “like a whip.”

Robbie Grossman came into camp a little bit bigger this season and is determined to be noticed in a crowded and competitive outfield this spring.  So far, so good for the third year man from Cypress Texas.  He leads the Astros in batting after one week of spring ball with a .600 batting average including a double and a homer.  However, with the confidence the organization seems to have in Jake Marisnick, Grossman may have trouble breaking camp with the Astros.  Grossman and Marisnick both have options left and it’s feasible that Grossman could be auditioning for potential trade partners for Houston as well.

Asher Wojciechowski has seen success at every level he has played.  That includes college (The Citadel), international (Team U.S.A.), and all levels of the minor leagues between the Toronto and Houston organizations.  Now 26, “Wojo” is healthy and in camp with the Astros and making the most of it.  In two outings so far, he has given up only 3 hits in 5 total innings and looks sharp.  He has the potential to earn either the fifth rotation spot or the long man spot in the bullpen.

A lot of the points above have been positive.  However, there are some negatives this spring in Astros camp.  Vincent Velasquez, one of Houston’s most promising young pitching prospects, strained his lat muscle in the opening days of camp.  This type of injury usually keeps guys out of action for a few weeks at a minimum.  The fact that Velasquez had not gotten a lot of work in prior to his getting hurt means that he will likely not get much, if any, time at all with the big leaguers this spring.  I think this is more of a disappointment than a surprise.  The Astros had hoped to expose the young talent to some healthy competition, even though he stood no chance to make the team to start the season.  A healthy and effective Vincent Velasquez is not only a potential future weapon for the Astros, but also a commodity when talking trade with other clubs.

It goes without saying that many of the things we are seeing in spring training so far are anomalies and will have little to no effect on position battles at the end of March.  Still, they are story lines worth keeping an eye on as Houston finally has a roster that will call for some tough decisions to be made at the end of camp.

Next: Has Singleton Locked Up A Roster Spot?

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