In the biggest news of the day Friday, the Astros landed superstar reliever, Josh Hader. Houston's deal with Hader rightfully stole the headlines, but also notably, the Astros announced their spring training roster the very same day.
22 non-roster members received invites to Spring Training, with 10 being pitchers, three catchers, five infielders and four outfielders. Some of those names may be a year or two away from contributing, and others may get traded, but multiple represent names you need to know.
Just last year, Corey Julks and Cesar Salazar went from non-roster invites to members of the Opening Day roster. Granted, the Astros did have some injuries, but there is always the chance for somebody to force their way onto the roster.
Astros spring training prospects and non-roster invitees to know
Jacob Melton, the Astros' No. 1 prospect and their lone representative on Baseball America's top 100 prospect list, received an invite to camp, but he is probably a year away from contributing. Spencer Arrighetti is the Astros' top pitching prospect, and after being rumored to potentially debut for a spot start last season, he will almost assuredly debut in 2024. With Lance McCullers Jr. and Luis Garcia both out until at least the summer, the Astros rotation could be tested early. Arrighetti is likely the next man up in the case of an injury, but with a strong spring, he could find his way onto the Opening Day roster.
Will Wagner and Joey Loperfido are utility players to keep an eye on. Wagner had a dominant Spring last season, and though he was injured for much of his minor-league season, he was phenomenal for the 65 games he did play. The Astros are always looking for utility type players, and after David Hensley's performance was so poor in 2023, either Wagner or Loperfido could find their way on the team in the near future.
Zach Dezenzo is another hitter to keep an eye on. He hit an absurd .407 with an 1.102 OPS in High-A ball, and though his numbers came back down slightly in Double-A (.825 OPS), he has some of the best raw pop in the Astros system. He's a name to keep an eye on.
Other non-roster members to watch are Luis Contreras, Tayler Scott and Wander Suero. All three were minor-league signings this offseason, and could be internal candidates to help fill some of the 200+ innings the Astros are losing with Phil Maton, Hector Neris, Kendall Graveman and Ryne Stanek all (likely) out of the bullpen next year.
And, of course, still on the 40-man roster and going on five-plus years as a "prospect to watch," Forrest Whitley will get anpther chance this spring. The once-top prospect was recently converted to a reliever and is likely to break camp as a member of the big-league bullpen -- presuming he stays healthy.