The Houston Astros cut seven more players from their Spring Training roster, including highly touted prospects Forrest Whitley and Kyle Tucker.
Outfielder Tucker and pitcher Rogelio Armenteros, who were on the Astros‘ 40-man roster, were optioned to the minor leagues. Non-roster invitee pitchers Whitley, J. B. Bukauskas, Corbin Martin, and Brandon Bielak were reassigned to the minors, along with infielder Alex Degoti.
Whitley and Bukauskas were initially thought to be in the running for the 5th starting spot in the rotation. A. J. Hinch put that rumor to bed when he announced earlier in Spring Training that he felt they weren’t ready, and wouldn’t be starting the season in the big leagues.
Whitley did his best to make his case for being with the team on opening day. In his three appearances, he had a 2.25 ERA and struck out 11 batters in eight innings. The only two earned runs he surrendered were both by way of home runs.
"“The guys were a lot nicer than I expected, they were a lot more open to discussion than I would have initially anticipated. I was really happy with the first experience, everyone was really great to me and I’m thankful for that.” Tucker stated describing his experience this Spring."
Bukauskas also impressed in the seven innings he pitched in four appearances. His ERA was a meager 1.29, just giving up the one earned run this Spring. He only allowed three hits, keeping the opposing hitters’ average at .130, while striking out eight.
Tucker’s departure might be the one to leave some of the Astro fans a little surprised. He didn’t quite live up to all of the hype when he was called up last season, hitting a .141/.236/.203 slash line. His Spring Training performance improved somewhat, raising his batting average to .280 and doubling his slugging percentage to .400.
He was probably just the odd man out in a roster overcrowded with outfielders. The acquisition of Michael Brantley joining Josh Reddick and George Springer in the outfield, along with Tony Kemp and Jake Marisnick both out of options, Tucker’s chances of making the roster were lowering.
Some might say if these prospects weren’t expected to make the team this season, why not trade one or two of them in a blockbuster move this offseason. But with some veteran players becoming free agents in the upcoming seasons, they are still going to play an important role in the future of the Astros. Plus, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a couple of them called up later in the season.