The Houston Astros recalled flame-thrower Jandel Gustave Wednesday after designating Carlos Gomez for assignment
The Astros signed Gustave in 2010 at the age of 17 as an international free agent. Gustave will instantly rival Ken Giles as the hardest thrower in the Astros’ pitching rotation. According to MLB Pipeline, The 6’2″ righty regularly throws his fastball in the upper-90s and has topped out at 102 MPH.
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As hard as he throws, Gustave is only the 29th-ranked Astros prospect; this stems mostly from his 40-grade control rating (on a 20-80 scale). After a rough 2014 in A-ball where he walked 29 batters and hit 13 more in only 79 innings, the Astros left Gustave unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft. The Red Sox selected him in the 2014 Rule 5 Draft before his rights were dealt to the Kansas City Royals. He was later claimed off waivers by the San Diego Padres before his rights were ultimately returned to the Astros.
It was in 2015 that Gustave began to turn things around. The hard-throwing Gustave was moved to the bullpen full-time and found success as a reliever. Last season in Double-A Corpus Christi, Gustave appeared in 46 games and posted career-bests in ERA (2.15) and WHIP (1.295).
Gustave has spent all of 2016 with the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies where he has posted a 3.71 ERA in 41 games while striking out 9.2 batters per nine innings with a career-best 2.89 K/BB ratio. After the promotion of James Hoyt, Gustave moved into the Grizzlies’ closer role.
Gustave is far from a polished product, but he has the raw tools to become a force in the big leagues. It will be interesting to watch how and if the Astros really use him. With Luke Gregerson progressing to return, the Gustave call up may be a holdover, but if given the chance, fans may fall in love with his arm.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference and MLB Pipeline***