The Astros look to be a stacked team with a packed roster full of game changing players. That leaves very limited spots for the fringe players.
The Astros recently unveiled their slogan for the upcoming year. The slogan “Earn It” is a great one for this team. The expectations are high, and fans are excited. Now the team needs to earn that hype and earn those rings. However, for some players in the organization, the slogan “Earn It” has an entirely different meaning.
When a team puts together a roster filled to the brim with talent, there is little room for average. Several players in the Astros organization will go from having a spot on the roster in 2016 to possibly watching the big league games from their hotel in Fresno. Here are a few players who need to earn their roster spot in 2017.
The heralded right-handed pitcher Joseph Musgrove made his debut in 2016 and went on to have a solid rookie campaign, showing middle to end of the rotation stuff right now, with his potential being even higher. In 10 starts, Musgrove recorded an ERA of 4.06 and struck out 55 of the 256 batters he faced. He gave up nine long shots and walked 16. Musgrove showed that he had strike out pitches and solid durability. To take the next step, Musgrove would have to stay away from the long ball and allow his defense to play behind him more.
Going into 2017, Musgrove finds himself in a pitching battle for one of the last two pitching spots. Mike Fiers has shown reliability and consistency in his time in Houston and seems to be the front-runner for the 4th spot. That leaves Musgrove, newly acquired veteran Charlie Morton, and dark horse prospect Francis Martes to battle it out for the 5th spot. If the 23-year-old righty can take his game to the next level, and put up solid numbers in the spring, Musgrove could be the 5th man in the rotation come Opening day.
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After a solid rookie year in 2015, Left handed youngster Preston Tucker struggled in 2016. While battling through injuries and struggling to maintain consistency, Tucker failed to stay in the majors much. After playing in 98 games in 2015, Tucker appeared in only 48 games in 2016. His average took a steep decline, and the left-handed power that makes him intriguing was not quite there.
The Astros went out and added outfield assets this off-season and those moves all but guaranteed Tucker a trip to Fresno. However, the 26-year-old outfielder still has some upside to him. His power from the left side of the plate alone makes him valuable, and if he can show some consistency in his contact game, that power could make him a valuable DH or pinch hitter. Tucker’s best shot at making the roster this year is by tearing it up in Fresno, and hope for a chance to make an impression later in 2017.
Yes, Derek Fisher has not made his major league debut yet, and yes the Astros just added outfield help. Despite all that, Fisher is my dark horse to make the team in 2017 because of his intriguing skill set. Former 1st round compensation pick of the Astros in 2014, Fisher is a left-handed hitting outfielder with adequate speed and possibly 25-30 home run power potential.
He hit 21 home runs in 129 games last season between Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Fresno. He also has the potential to hit for a decent average, finishing with a .255 average in 2016. Fisher has surprise stud written all over him.Although his chances of making the roster out of spring training are slim, Fisher has an opportunity to be a solid backup in case of injury to any of the outfielders in Houston now.
There are several other players in the same situation in 2017. Players such as A.J. Reed, Tony Kemp, Brady Rodgers, and Colin Moran to name a few. This is a good problem for a team to have. Having too many good players is usually not a bad thing. Look for some of these guys to contribute in 2017.
**Statistics courtesy of BaseballReference.com**