Astros News

Houston Astros sign four more undrafted free agents

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 30: A bag of baseballs is seen on the field before Game Seven of the 2019 World Series between the Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals at Minute Maid Park on October 30, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 30: A bag of baseballs is seen on the field before Game Seven of the 2019 World Series between the Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals at Minute Maid Park on October 30, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /
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The Houston Astros have signed four more undrafted free agents.

Over the weekend, we got word that the Houston Astros signed four undrafted free agents — two right-handed pitchers, one outfielder and one corner infielder. Now they have added four more undrafted free agents to their minor league system.

They signed a trio of college right-handed pitchers: Kyle Gruller from Houston Baptist, Jonathan Sprinkle from Central Missouri, and Zack Matthews from Oklahoma. They also signed outfielder Cody Orr from Division-II Tiffin University in Ohio.

Their eight signees have them tied for fourth-most in the league thus far. The Red Sox, Reds and Cubs are the only teams to have signed more than eight players, while a few aren’t reported to have signed any thus far.

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The actual signing bonus paid to these players isn’t known, but it’s a safe bet they all got the maximum allowed $20,000. Teams can sign as many of these undrafted free agents as they want, but I would be surprised if the Astros signed many more at this point.

What We Know

Gruller, who hails from Cypress, TX, pitched to a combined 2.40 ERA over the past two seasons in 16 starts for Houston Baptist. He racked up strikeouts and limited hits effectively, though the main blemish in his stats was an unsightly walk rate of 5.2 per nine innings. Notably, he didn’t allow a home run in 23.1 innings this season.

Sprinkle, a junior standing at 6’6″ and 225 pounds, pitched mostly in relief for Central Missouri and was quite effective. He worked to a 2.22 ERA in 24.1 innings in 2018, a 2.23 ERA with 10 saves in 40.1 innings in 2019, and a 3.86 ERA in 23.1 innings this year. His career peripherals of 14.6 strikeouts per nine, 3.0 walks per nine, 0.4 homers per nine, 5.4 hits per nine and an 0.932 WHIP are sterling. If those are any indication, he could have a bright future.

Matthews, a junior, has pitched exclusively in relief for the Sooners, though his stats don’t exactly jump off the page. He worked to a career 5.22 ERA in 39 appearances, though he did post solid walk and strikeout rates. He just displayed a propensity to give up hits and home runs, and he also struggled in the Cape Cod League last year. Clearly the Astros see some untapped potential.

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Orr, a right-handed hitting center fielder, was in his junior season at Tiffin and had been a two-way player for them. He had a career 5.18 ERA on the mound, however, so he’ll likely play exclusively as an outfielder for the Astros. He hit .349/.439/.476 in 54 games in 2019, and was hitting .412/.535/.676 in nine games in 2020. In both of those seasons, he had more walks than strikeouts.

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