Brett Wallace is gone. Long live another former first rounder who didn’t live up to the billing.
For the past few seasons and spring trainings, the Astros have carried a lot of chaff, excess weight and “scrubs”, as some of you have called it. Almost by necessity due to the reconstruction blue print, Houston has been a haven for low-risk, high-reward players and those trying to resurrect a career.
Perhaps the Astros have now reached a tipping point of sorts. This season, as more seasoned talent arrives from the minor league system and the organization invests in some more seasoned help at the major league level, there won’t be as many spots on the 40-man roster for those so-called projects.
With every Jerome Williams, Dexter Fowler or Jesus Guzman acquisition comes decision time for the 40-man roster. Whether it results in a release, DFA or trade, the low-man-on-the-totem-pole discussion is now always in play.
So, who is the low man? Obviously, this week it was Wallace. There will be more adjustments to come as the Astros cruise toward opening day April 1. The odd man out could change from time to time, but here’s my list today of the men on the bubble.
Marc Krauss. 26. OF/DH.
- Unless he breaks out in spring training, he’s around likely until the George Springer arrival or another spring training acquisition.
Carlos Corporan. 26 in May. C.
- Tough call and it’s likely he’ll be around most of spring training or until the right trade comes up. Seems clear that the future — at least 2014-15 — is in the hands of Jason Castro and Max Stassi. Unless the Astros decide to experiment with Castro at 1B or he becomes the odds-on DH, the team will carry only two catchers out of spring training.
Lucas Harrell. 25. RHP.
- Is Harrell really only 25? A little of a challenge to include him on this list because he has proved to be valuable in some ways, especially considering his ability to shift between spot starter, full-time starter and the bullpen. But with the rotation beginning to fill with really young pitchers (e.g. Brett Oberholtzer, Jarred Cosart et al) and pitchers waiting in the wings (e.g. Mark Appel, Asher Wojciechowski, Jake Buchanan, Mike Foltynewicz, and friends), it’s only a matter of time before the Astros will need Harrell’s spot on the 40-man.
Pitcher. Pick ’em.
- The Astros 40-man roster is presently top-heavy with pitchers. With 25 throwers and only 15 position players, the roster is due a shuffle soon. At this point, with so many new arms and young arms, it’s a challenge to determine who may be the next to go. Obviously, the Astros agree and want to hedge their bets, thus 25 pitchers remain on the roster. That number will change between now and April 1, likely dropping to 21 or 22. But part of the challenge comes in that most of the arms are young (fewer Mike Hamptons or Erik Bedards or Philip Humbers in ’14) . Take your pick now on the odd men out, but it will change via trade, release or injury.
The chaff was easier to see last year and in years before. As the young talent rises to the top and Jeff Luhnow signs his own players, seeing the obvious left-overs won’t be as easy.
One more thought: Most prospects will not spend time on the 40-man roster at AAA. If they do, they’re simply slow developing, are blocked by someone ahead of them or have other issues. It’s why the Astros have thrown Jonathan Villar into the starting SS role. And, it’s why the should do the same with Singleton. It’s time to find out what you’ve got.
Who’s the next to go?