The Houston Astros have profited nicely with a valuable platoon player or utility man in recent years from Marwin Gonzalez to Aledmys Diaz. Although these two were the go-to replacement for infield depth, the franchise has held onto a second infielder like many teams do. To open the 2021 season, that infielder was Robel Garcia, who was recently replaced by Tyler Ivey and then Taylor Jones on the roster.
While looking to get more consistent at bats in the minor leagues with the Sugar Land Skeeters, the Astros will have time to evaluate the swing and power of the switch-hitter. Garcia’s claim from the Los Angeles Angels seemed like a surprise, and at the time, it looked like a move to add infield 40-man roster options in Triple A. With this move back to the farm, Garcia has started the clock on his final option, meaning that the next time he is recalled could be his last.
While Robel Garcia will have more at bats in the minor leagues, here are two replacements in case the Astros move away from him.
The journeyman has made his way to a handful of organizations in recent months before landing in Houston, but with a slash line of .190/.261/.190 through 23 plate appearances, the Astros aren’t putting much faith in him. As the payroll has been a huge discussion this past offseason, releasing or trading Garcia wouldn’t free open money, while his paycheck doesn’t leave a dent.
Alex De Goti
While Garcia has made his way around the diamond and has tested some outfield play, Alex De Goti has done the same in his minor league career. De Goti might ring a bell, while he made his debut during the Astros’ COVID-19 clubhouse debacle.
While sitting in Triple A since, the right-hander is slashing .236/.323/.400 with two home runs as of May 23. These don’t look like impactful numbers in the minor leagues, and for De Goti, he hasn’t always had that amazing offensive attack. His biggest tool is his glove and adapting to new positions. While Garcia comes with a switch-hitting bat and sneaky power, De Goti shows more consistency in the field and at getting on base. You can only hope it transfers or gets better at the major league level.
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This name might come with some question marks, while many fans do not know much about C.J. Hinojosa. The right-hander was signed before the start of 2021 spring training, after bouncing around minor league systems like Garcia.
Through 54 plate appearances in Triple A, the right-hander is hitting .313/.352/.542 with eight of his 15 hits going extra bases. While mostly a middle infielder, Hinojosa can play at the hot corner but hasn’t touched the outfield since college. The right-hander is another one of those players to watch around the heart of the season like Jose Siri, while both are slugging, they need to stay with their offensive productions.
While Abraham Toro hasn’t seen much of the majors this season, the switch-hitter is currently on the 7-day injured list with the Skeeters. Toro shows the same amount of value as Garcia, but a lack of true power could have bumped him down a notch compared to the utility players. They both sit in the same boat in the idea of their role but have two different plate approaches.
While these two options are hypothetical, they would have to be added to the 40-man if Garcia’s Houston time is no more. This will all come down to how Garcia shakes out in the minor leagues, as he becomes an every day player.
With major league experience behind him, the switch-hitter could easily make his way back if the production is there. If not, why not go after one of these two and test their ability at the big-league level? One issue is that Taylor Jones has been mashing the ball as of late and could easily keep the major league bench seat.