If the Astros have an overabundance at any position at the Triple-A level, it is probably the outfield.
With the Astros‘ major league outfield all set with George Springer, Michael Brantley, Josh Reddick, Jake Marisnick, and Tony Kemp, the minor league outfield, especially at Triple-A, was already a bit crowded. With the return of Drew Ferguson, who was a Rule 5 pick by the Giants earlier in the offseason, there may not be much room for these players to breath.
Here is the projected outfield, rather players who will most likely see time in the outfield for the Round Rock Express this season:
That’s a talented group of outfielders, I tell you what. Sorry, I was trying to embrace my Texan roots for a moment. Believe it or not, but I don’t really have an accent. Does that make me less Texan? Absolutely not. Do you care? No, you shouldn’t.
There are arguably at least three outfielders in the above list, or possibly all five, that can contribute in some way to a major league roster right now. But they just so happen to play for the Astros, so that limits opportunities for players.
So, what should we expect to help ease the logjam in the outfield?
At Round Rock, there are little options to help ease the crowded outfield. One possible avenue is seeing players shifted around the field, but the Astros may not be keen on limiting the development at other positions in the name of playing time for others. The Express could utilize Alvarez as the DH, especially with Tyler White now in the majors and A.J. Reed manning first base. If White struggles, it wouldn’t be a terrible stretch to see Alvarez promoted, although they would have to clear room on the 40-man roster.
Bu it is reasonable to expect Tucker to make his return to the majors this season, especially if an opening materializes. Fisher and Straw are other options in this regard. Also, all three are already on the 40-man roster. Although Alvarez has received looks at first base and left field throughout his minor league career, I think he ends up at the latter in the majors. If anything else, he would be a prime candidate for DH if it ever became available. Ferguson spent time with the Giants in Spring Training, but he likely remains in Round Rock unless the injury bug affects the entire outfield roster.
It will be interesting to see how the Astros address this logjam as the upcoming season unfolds. There is little immediate playing time coming in Houston with Springer, Brantley, and Reddick all under contract through the 2020 season. A team needing outfield help may also see an opportunity to improve via Houston’s depth in trade talks this summer. Either way, pay attention to this outfield group and how the front office utilizes it in 2019.