Hometown pitcher Austin Pruitt returns to his roots after a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays and will vie for a chance to join the Astros starting rotation.
The Astros skirted the free-agent route and engineered a trade with Tampa Bay to bring right-handed pitcher Austin Pruitt home to Houston in exchange for outfielder Cal Stevenson and pitcher Peyton Battenfield.
The 30-year-old product of the University of Houston began his Major League career when he made his debut for the Rays in 2017. Tampa Bay utilized Pruitt mostly as a relief pitcher while filling in periodically as a starter. Astros GM Jeff Luhnow plans to give him every opportunity to fill one of the open slots at the back end of their rotation.
"“We’re excited to add a good pitcher to our Major League team. Role is to be determined. I think he’ll get a chance to start & if he’s able to do that he’ll be really helpful, back end of our rotation..” via Mark Berman of Fox 26."
Last season Pruitt had 14 appearances for the Rays going 3-0 with an ERA of 4.40. His career ERA is 4.87 in 67 games, ten of those games as a starter. He ranks among the best in the league with a 2,999 spin rate on his curveball and near the top with his fastball. Qualities that the Houston front office and pitching coach Brent Strom seem to covet.
He and his family are ecstatic about coming back to his hometown to pitch. Pruitt said his parents “went through the roof” when they heard he was acquired by the Astros.
"“I’m extremely excited. I’m a little more shocked than anything, you know? There’s 29 other teams I could have gone to and it happened to be the hometown team.” via Brian MCTaggart of MLB.com"
Pruitt is out of options making him nearly a lock to make the roster, whether it be in a starting role or as a reliever. Right-hander Dean Deetz was designated for assignment to make room for Pruitt on the roster.
There was a pitcher named Charlie Morton that came to the Astros a few years back that had a career ERA of 4.54 when he arrived in Houston and was also known for his high spin rate. Remember how that turned out? Brent Strom can do magic with this type of pitcher and maybe Austin Pruitt will be another one of his success stories.