The Houston Astros Option Jon Singleton Down, Tyler White’s Time to Shine
Earlier today, the Houston Astros made eight roster moves. As Evan Drelich reported earlier, the club either optioned or reassigned the following players: Joe Sclafani, Jake Buchanan, Tyler Heineman, Michael Feliz, A.J. Reed, Cesar Valdez, Eury Perez, and most notably Jon Singleton.
These moves let us know almost all we need to know about the two most contested position battles of the spring, and they are first base and backup catcher. With Singleton sent to Fresno, and Reed optioned as well, Tyler White looks to be the winner for first base which is good news for Astros fans tired of watching Singleton blow chance after chance to take the position.
White has hit .366 with 2 HR and 10 RBI while Singleton continued his patented feast or famine routine with a .151 batting average and 3 HR. A.J. Reed had a very nice spring and gave us all a glimpse of what is in store when he makes his arrival, which still could be a year away.
The only knock against White has been his defense; however, most of this stems from his time at third base. On the opposite corner of the diamond, he has done very well defending first, and if he can continue to produce a high average at the plate, a few miscues on the field can be overlooked. Congrats to the 33rd round pick out of Western Carolina!
Heineman has been sent down as well, leaving Roberto Pena as the front-runner for the backup catcher position. Heineman played in AAA Fresno last year while Pena was in AA Corpus. Both players had comparable springs. However, it has been rumored that the coaching staff views Pena, as the complete catcher, suitable for the backup role which Max Stassi should reclaim upon his return from injury. Pena has caught Dallas Keuchel recently, and this furthermore hinted toward him having the upper hand over Heineman.
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One more caveat to the backup catcher situation is that there have been plenty of rumors that Houston will make try to make a trade fill this spot, so Pena is not “locked in” as making the team just yet. But barring a late-spring trade, Pena does appear to be to making the trip to New York for the opening series. It is not out of the question, but unlikely, that Houston’s front office would choose to depart with more of the farm system in return for a possible upgrade for only a couple of months.
Michael Feliz was another player optioned after having a good spring and a hopeful to make the active roster. Feliz pitched 14 innings and accumulated a 1.29 ERA with 12 strikeouts. Feliz did have a brief stint with the Astros last season with five relief appearances, and could definitely be one of the first arms called upon for bullpen or rotation help when injuries occur.
As Opening Day looms near, the Astros will have to finalize active and reserve rosters, so decisions still must be made of whom to keep on both. We should expect to see more moves very soon.
**Stats per MLB.COM**