Prior to Sunday’s contest against the Washington Nationals, Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker exchanged lineup cards with his son Darren Baker, an infielding prospect for the Nationals.
Both the Astros and the Nationals share facilities in West Palm Beach, Florida, for spring training, as Dusty Baker has told reporters this spring that he and Darren get to live with each other as his son pursues a professional career.
Darren, the Nationals’ 10th-round pick in 2021, played at the University of California, Berkley before being drafted. Primarily a second baseman, the 23-year-old played at two levels — rookie ball and Low-A — in Washington’s system in 2021.
In four games with the FCL Nationals, the lefty slashed six hits in 15 at-bats, before being sent to Low-A Fredericksburg. There, Baker played in 18 games, hitting .318/.352/.394 in the process with two stolen bases on four attempts.
Baker suffered an oblique strain that has set him back from playing, although taking at-bats again, Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle reports. Although not starting Sunday, Dusty Baker was surprised, as seen in the video, of seeing his son bring out the lineup card.
Darren Baker did enter the game in the sixth inning, playing second base. Baker singled in his first plate appearance, before driving in the go-ahead run in his second trip to the plate. The Nationals beat the Astros, 3-2.
"“This is kind of what a father lives for, to see his son or daughter succeed,” Baker told reporters postgame. “It was quite an experience.”"
While manager Dusty Baker exchanged a father-son moment pregame, his Astros flashed early success from a top-pitching prospect.
Hunter Brown opened Sunday’s matchup facing only 10 batters. The right-hander worked 2.2 innings on 55 pitches, 30 of them being strikes, while giving up one run on one hit and one walk. Brown also punched out two in the process.
The Astros have yet to start a major leaguer other than Justin Verlander on Friday. Baker told reporters Sunday that major leaguers will begin play Wednesday, despite originally hoping to play them Tuesday night in Port St. Lucie against the New York Mets.
Outfielder Jose Siri arrived to camp Sunday, after facing travel and visa constraints in the Dominican Republic this past week. The Astros are still waiting on the arrival of right-handed reliever Rafael Montero, but Baker told reporters the Astros are hopeful of his return Monday, Jake Kaplan of The Athletic reports.
More prospects were assigned to the Astros on Sunday; those players can be found on the transaction page.