Houston Astros: adding versatility in prospects

(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

The Houston Astros were blessed to have the platoon, Swiss Army knife of Marwin Gonzalez for as long as they did, but after his departure, they traded for Aledmys Diaz, who has been substantial as the utility man. These two right-handers possess a lot of versatility in lineups, and as they are hard to come by, the Astros are looking to advance this early within the minor league system at spring training.

Today, we learned that Cuban standout Pedro Leon was taking reps at shortstop, and before you think he’s taking Carlos Correa’s job, the Astros are only doing this to test the waters and add versatility to young prospects. First-round pick Korey Lee has been fielding in left field and at the corner infield spots, while mainly being a catcher. No one is losing their job; the Astros are just looking for a new utility man.

What Astros players have looked to versatility this spring?

Houston has become a team that depends on the value of players at a wide-range of positions, and in a changing game, many players have come to show they can play at different spots on the field. Although these positions aren’t their first choice, it is keeping their career’s alive like non-roster invite Steven Souza Jr., who has played his whole career in the outfield. The right-hander decided to look at the big picture of making the roster anyway he can and test the waters at first base.

Other Astros players have also made respected moves in the field, and with the help of bench coach Joe Espada, the infield has become more reliable. Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman can be interchangeable at shortstop and third, while Yuli Gurriel can play his original position of third base if needed like Abraham Toro has done this spring. Other players to take reps at first base are Yordan Alvarez and Jason Castro, who had short stints at the bag in his first campaign with Houston.

Pedro Leon

With the arrival of international signee, the Astros have tested Leon’s ability in the infield, where he played growing up. His quickness and cannon of an arm has allowed the staff to see his ability at shortstop. This move isn’t taking anyones job but looking for a replacement on days off or expected injuries in the future. The right-hander is expected to be the centerfielder of the future for Houston with his five-tool arsenal. The Cuban prospect praised the career of Yuli Gurriel and how many young Cuban players look up to him.

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Korey Lee

The 2019 first-round pick is the highest ranked catcher in the farm system, but after losing a full season of training, the catcher has been practicing in left field, first base and third base. During his minor league career, Lee has played first base and left field, while most of his games were behind the plate. In the Cape Cod League and at the University of California, he played all those positions. This isn’t an issue looking forward; it is more of an evaluation to see if he can play the positions effectively when needing his bat or glove in different places in the field. The former Golden Bear was teammates with Dusty Baker’s son, Darren, and talked about how whoever drafts him will get a “winner.”

Garrett Stubbs

While not a prospect anymore, Stubbs will most likely start his 2021 season at the alternative training site, although mostly being on the roster last season. The signing of Castro takes Stubbs’ job as the backup, but he has been seeing more practice at second base and in left field to show his versatility. While his bat has been lacking at the MLB level, the left-hander hasn’t had many opportunities to show out at the plate. Stubbs hasn’t had issues in the field in his career, and adding these two positions feels like a Craig Biggio defensive route.

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