The Astros have a decision to make pretty soon with Bregman and Gurriel
With all the Yulieski Gurriel news, many people have asked us on Talking Stros when he and Alex Bregman would make their Houston Astros’ debuts. While there has been no official date for Gurriel, a good estimate would be two weeks to settle visa issues and get back into playing shape during extended spring training. He reportedly has kept in good shape working out with his brother, 22-year-old Cuban defector Lourdes Gurriel in Florida since February.
With this being said, he might not need that much time to get ready to start playing baseball again. Two weeks plus is a good estimate, then following that time, he will be added to the Corpus Christi Hooks roster where he will play for about two weeks. This would put his debut around August 21st, right before I have to go back to work (teacher problems).
Let’s see what Jeremy Booth of Program 15 has to say about Gurriel. Booth saw him play in a Cuba National Team versus the USA National College Team in 2014. Booth is also a former player and scout who currently runs Program 15, which is an individualized baseball training program.
Booth: At one point, this guy was one of the better players in the world. I saw him play two summers ago when they were playing the collegial national team in a series over here. It was pretty impressive watching how he slowed the game down, from a scouting viewpoint, that means he’s able to not let anything bother him, he’s a professional, and goes about his business no matter how fast things move. The game tends to work around him.
Big league baseball, this guy can flat-out hit, he can pick it up, his hands are good. With the way the Astros made his contract, and what the organization needed, this was a really good sign. They needed a major league ready player. It might take him a couple of weeks, maybe a month to get himself back in shape. Right about the time the Astros need him, he will be ready.
We think that Gurriel will play well at third base, but there could be a problem with this plan, his name is Alex Bregman. Brandon said that he thinks Bregman could be up as soon as Friday, with the Grizzlies playing a four-game series in Round Rock. If this is true, where do you play him? This is where Brandon and I had a disagreement over. Brandon thought that Bregman would play third base until Gurriel was ready, then go to left field or DH.
Knowing how Jeff Luhnow has treated Bregman so far, I don’t think they would call him up to be the third baseman, then switch his roles. They have not given Bregman any starts at third base in Fresno because they wanted him to focus on hitting without learning a new position. Let’s see what Booth thought.
Booth: I don’t think they would. When Bregman comes up, he will be coming up playing the position that he will play. I know he has played shortstop with Fresno, but he will show up in Houston when he has shown enough offensive ability to play the position he will play. If he will play left field, then we should see him playing some outfield in Fresno. With Carlos Correa there, move Bregman to third base, and then slot Gurriel in the outfield for the rest of this season. I don’t see Bregman playing in the outfield, and he is too good in the dirt. Doesn’t mean that I’m right.
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With the trade deadline approaching and the Astros start facing better competition, they will need Bregman’s bat in the lineup. Unlike the NL days, the Astros have the designated hitter slot that they can rotate players in and out of positions. Gurriel could play second or third while Bregman could play third base and shortstop to rest the legs of Correa and Jose Altuve.
The players hurt the most by this move is A.J. Reed, Marwin Gonzalez, and Evan Gattis. Gattis and Jason Castro might end up as a full platoon at catcher, Reed might end up in AAA until he is ready-ready, and Margo will lose playing time. Danny Worth will most likely be sent down or DFA’ed when Bregman is ready, with Luis Valbuena switching to first base.
To answer the question, Bregman should be up first, will play third base, and will probably bat second in the lineup. Gurriel will be up sometime in mid-August, let’s say August 21st and be a super utility guy who plays DH or be the regular left fielder.
When asked about a good MLB player comp for Gurriel, Booth said Edwin Encarnacion was a fair comparison. If that is the type of player that the Astros will get for the next four-plus seasons, then this was a good deal for both sides.