Here are five Houston Astros players who get a second chance after a bad spring.
Many people look at spring as a time of renewal or rebirth, and the beginning of Spring Training is probably the most optimistic time in the baseball season. Unfortunately the optimism doesn’t always translate into success on the field, but some Houston Astros players have a chance at redemption.
There are some players who struggled in Spring Training prior to the COVID-19 pandemic throwing a wrench into everything. With summer camp beginning as teams get ready for the 2020 season, those players have a chance to put their rough spring behind them and make a totally different impression on the team’s decision makers.
So here are five Astros players who get a second chance to make their case to be included on the roster or to cement their spot. All five are on the 56-man player pool, so they’ll be out there and have an actual opportunity to make the team, either at the beginning of the season or later on if needed.
Mayfield could make a case for the opening day roster, as the Astros will probably carry an extra infielder while the rosters are at 30. He struggled in his limited debut in 2019, hitting .156/.169/.328 in 26 games, but he handled three infield positions with aplomb.
In the spring, he racked up 24 plate appearances but hit only .125/.125/.167, striking out six times without drawing a walk. If he wants that roster spot, he’ll need to look much better than that in summer camp.
Toro and Mayfield could be in direct competition for a roster spot, and Toro may have a leg up based on his 2019 performance. In 25 games, he hit .218/.303/.385 with a couple of homers, one of which was the team’s only offense in Justin Verlander’s no-hitter.
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He also struggled in spring, though, putting up an identical slash line as Mayfield in the same number of plate appearances. Toro only struck out once, though, and his track record and ceiling are a bit better. But he still needs to make a good impression in camp.
McCormick is unlikely to make the Opening Day roster regardless, but he’s one of the players who’d be considered if the team needs an extra outfielder at some point this season. He hit a combined .269/.386/.432 between Double-A and Triple-A in 2019 and is ranked as the team’s No. 25 prospect.
He did hit two homers in Spring Training and drove in five runs, but he had only one other hit in his 24 plate appearances. That .130/.167/.391 line won’t get him very far, so a better showing in camp could inch him up the pecking order.
The team’s top-rated prospect is coming off a disastrous 2019 season in which he got torched in Triple-A and was on the shelf for a while. It would take a pretty impressive effort from him in camp and during his training in Corpus Christi during the season for the team to consider using him, but with his talent, it’s possible.
Whitley made four appearances in the spring, tossing six innings and allowing five runs on six hits with three walks. He struck out seven, so there’s no doubt about his stuff. He just has to control it and get his mechanics set. If he can do that, the sky is the limit.
Coming into the spring, Urquidy was penciled in as the team’s No. 4 starter after a strong finish to the 2019 season. He worked to a 3.95 ERA in 41 innings in the majors, had a 1.50 ERA in September and tossed five scoreless frames in Game Four of the World Series.
He’s still penciled in as the No. 4 starter, but he was outperformed in the spring by the guys who are competing for the No. 5 spot. In 8.1 innings, he allowed five runs on 10 hits for a 5.40 ERA and .278 batting average against. His strikeout and walk rates were solid, but he needs to cut down on the hits to be effective.