The Houston Astros have gone away from the Cubs model of rolling with their prospects into the World Series.
It might have worked for the Cubs, but the Houston Astros felt that adding more of a veteran presence to the team was needed. The talent was evident in 2016, but they lacked the players who have been there before. Which is why the front office brought in all the players they did this offseason.
Enter Carlos Beltran, Josh Reddick, Brian McCann, Nori Aoki, and Charlie Morton. Some could say that these veteran bright in are blocking major league talent. Teoscar Hernandez, A.J. Reed, Tony Kemp, and Colin Moran will be starting the season at Triple-A. On most teams, these guys are good enough to be on the team at the least.
There are roadblocks to Houston.
Yulieski Gurriel will block Reed at the beginning of the season if not longer. Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve will block Moran and Kemp respectively. Reddick, Aoki, Jake Marisnick, and Beltran will block most of the younger outfielders this year. However, the depth of the system will prevent the team from playing a player who is struggling. Last year, the outfield depth was challenged with Carlos Gomez‘s struggles and release as well as Colby Rasmus‘ ear issues.
In order to win this season, the Astros offense has to hit well. With a group of older players added to the mix, there needs to be players waiting in the wings. While Moran and Reed showed the ability to have bounce back seasons, two others impressed the most. On yesterday’s Root Sports Astros broadcast, they mentioned two players who have impressed the most. The tweet below echoes that feeling by A.J. Hinch.
These two players are Derek Fisher and J.D. Davis. They have already been told that they have not made the team. According to Kaplan, Fisher will stay with the team through Wednesday and Davis has earned a trip to Houston for the two exhibition games. Fisher and Davis are not unknown prospects, one is a first round pick, and the latter is a third round pick. MLB Pipeline has Fisher listed as the fourth top Astros prospect and 83rd overall in baseball. Davis is ranked as the 13th top Stros prospect.
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Let’s take a look at what they have done this spring.
Fisher had a slash line in the minors in 2016 of .255/ .367/ .448/ .815 with 21 homers and 28 stolen bases. The profile for Fisher shows a player who could potentially be a five-tool player. He was drafted in the competitive balance round of the 2014 draft received from the Orioles in the Bud Norris trade. This spring, he has opened eyes by hitting .294 with a homer and eight RBIs. The most impressive stat though is his ten stolen bases.
The Stros drafted Davis in the third round of the 2014 draft after Fisher and Reed. While he doesn’t have the speed that Fisher has, he has above average power potential. Last year, he had a slash line of .268/ .334/ .485/ .818 with 23 homers and 81 RBIs. This spring, Davis has hit .350 with a homer and six RBIs.
These guys have made an impression on the manager with their play. This could lead to them getting the call at some point. While there is no clear path to the big leagues, they need to take a page from Bregman’s book. If you hit, they will find a way for you. We will talk more about this tonight on Talking Stros starting at 6:00 pm.
***Stats from MLB.com***