Results tagged ‘ cuts ’
The Astros trimmed their active spring roster by eight players Sunday morning, including top prospect Carlos Correa, a shortstop, and Matt Dominguez, who was the team’s starting third baseman the past two years.
Correa, the former No. 1 overall Draft pick who is a budding star, was reassigned to the Minor Leagues and will begin the season at Double-A Corpus Christi. The Astros also informed relievers Darin Downs and James Hoyt, infielder Gregorio Petit and catcher Tyler Heineman they wouldn’t make the team, but would remain on the big league roster through the end of camp.
The Astros also informed reliever Sam Deduno he had made the club as a long reliever, leaving one spot open in the bullpen. Dominguez, along with pitcher Jake Buchanan and catcher Max Stassi, were optioned to the Minor Leagues.
“This is a challenging time because we’ve got a lot of players that have stepped up and played well and we have tough decision to make,” Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said. “These aren’t the last ones. We feel good about the squad we’re going to be able to take to Houston to start the season with and we feel good about the protection and the players that we’re going to have to Triple-A that are going to be available to us should an injury occur or a need arise.”
Dominguez started 309 games for the Astros the past two years, mostly at third base. He hit .241 with 21 homers and 77 RBIs in his first full season in 2013 and last year slumped to .215 with 16 homers and 57 RBIs, which is why the Astros traded for Luis Valbuena to play third this year.
Dominguez came to camp competing for a backup role, which including playing some first base, and hit .250 with two RBIs in 36 at-bats, but was behind Jonathan Villar.
“One of our goals this offseason was to give ourselves more options and out infield production last year, with the exception of [Jose] Altuve, was below what we really needed to compete in this division, so we went out and addressed upgrades at shortstop and options at third base and first base,” Luhnow said. “We’re seeing the results of that. Valbuena had an amazing spring so far and is basically going to be our third baseman and that leaves Matt in competition with some of the other guys for an extra spot on the roster, a spot off the bench, and right now we feel like there’s a couple of other guys ahead of him and he needs to play every day. Right now he’ll go down to Fresno and play third and play some first and be ready when the need arises.”
Correa has done nothing but impress in his second big league camp. He hit .341 with two homers and five RBIs this spring and was terrific on defense. He has yet to play above Class A, so getting him some reps at Double-A is the goal.
“Carlos is going to be a star player in the big leagues. It’s just a matter of time,” Luhnow said. “Having never had an at-bat in Double-A, he needs to go get some regular work in the high Minors. He did a great job for us on the field as well as off the field and I think he’s got a lot of fans in the organization and he impressed the big league staff, which is what you want as a young player.”
Deduno, claimed off waivers in August, will be the team’s long relief man. He’s appeared in 74 big league games (42) starts and is 16-19 with a 4.20 ERA, including a 3.12 ERA in five games (one start) with Houston last year.
“A.J. talked to him and he was excited because when he came in the office he was a little nervous,” Luhnow said. “He had a big smile on his face when he left the office this morning.”
The Astros trimmed their Spring Training roster by five players Sunday, optioning left-hander pitcher Rudy Owens and right-handers Jose Cisnero, Collin McHugh and Chia-Jen Lo and reassigning catcher Tyler Heineman to Minor League camp.
None of the cuts, which leave the Astros with 46 players remaining in camp, come as a surprise. Lo, who appeared in 19 games for the Astros last season, was competing for one of the spots in the bullpen and appeared in four games this spring, allowing one earned run in 3 1/3 innings.
Owens, coming off a foot injury that cost him nearly the entire 2013 season, was a long shot to make the rotation and will likely be in the rotation at Triple-A Oklahoma City. He appeared in three games this spring, making two starts, and was 0-1 with an 8.31 ERA.
Acquired from the Pirates in the Wandy Rodriguez deal in 2012, Owens missed most of last season because of a stress fracture in his left foot. He made merely four appearances, three starts, producing an 0-3 record and 3.71 ERA in 17 innings. He pitched in the Dominican Winter League, producing a 3-2 record and 2.68 ERA in 10 starts and 53 2/3 innings.
McHugh, claimed off waivers in December, appeared in three games this spring and allowed 12 hits and nine earned runs in 5 2/3 innings. He split last season between the Mets and Rockies and the Minor Leagues of both organizations.
Cisnero went 2-2 with a 4.12 ERA in 28 games in his Major League debut last year. He pitched in three games in Grapefruit League play, allowing three hits and one earned run in 2 1/3 innings. Heineman spent all of last season at Class A Lancaster, hitting .286 with 13 homers and 71 RBIs.
The Astros made their first cuts of camp Sunday morning, reassigning right-handers Jake Buchanan, Bobby Doran, Jason Stoffel and Nick Tropeano, infielders Jonathan Meyer and Ronald Torreyes and outfielders Leo Heras and Preston Tucker to Minor League camp. They also optioned right-hander Paul Clemens to Minor League camp.
Most of the players who were sent out didn’t have a realistic shot to make the Major League club and were in camp to be around big league players and get familiar with the staff.
That can’t be said for Clemens, who went 4-7 with a 5.40 ERA in 35 games (five starts) for the Astros last year and was in the mix for a spot on the pitching staff. He had pitched in only two games this spring, allowing six hits and three runs in three innings, but the Astros want him to get stretched out and work on fastball command.
“Paul has had mixed reviews at the big leagues,” general manager Jeff Luhnow said. “There’s been times when he’s been very good and times when he’s been inconsistent. We just need him to go get steady innings down in the Minor Leagues, and we’re having trouble right now finding innings for everybody. We still see Paul as a starting pitcher. We want to stretch him out, and the best way for us to do that right now is at the Minor League level.”
With starting pitchers going longer in games and with so many position players in camp, the Astros were still having trouble spreading around the at-bats, which is why they made the moves. Minor League camp has begun in earnest, and games begin on Friday.
“Like I said to all those guys we talked to today, there comes a point in spring from a starting pitching standpoint and from a pitching standpoint, the innings start to get scarce and these guys are a part of our plans down the road and you want to give them an opportunity to get themselves ready for their season,” manager Bo Porter said. “From a position-player standpoint, the position players are going to start to play deeper into games, which is going to minimize the number of at-bats we have to go around and we need those guys to get regular playing time.”
The moves leave the Astros with 56 players in camp.
The Astros made their first roster cuts of the spring Sunday morning, reassigning second baseman Delino DeShields Jr., outfielder Jake Goebbert, outfielder Marc Krauss, center fielder George Springer and catcher Chris Wallace to Minor League camp and optioning left-hander Rudy Owens and right-hander Sam Demel to Minor League camp.
The cuts leave the Astros with 54 players in camp.
“The important thing for players like DeShields and Springer, who are a part of our future, was to come up here and make a good impression with a new staff and both of them absolutely did that,” Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said. “Goebbert has been a part of our Minor League system for a while and made a good impression, and Krauss had some big hits for us.
“The message to all those guys basically is you accomplished what your goal was this spring, you came up here and made a good impression on the staff. Krauss is a little bit closer. He’s a guy you could see having some time in Houston this year, and it’s nice when the staff has positive feelings about them so when we have a discussion, if there’s an opening later in the summer, they’ll be inclined to want him to come up.
“For all those guys, they did exactly what we wanted them to do.”
Minor League games begin on Thursday, and the Astros are expected to make another round of cuts later in the week, likely Wednesday. Players who were added to the 40-man roster for the first time this year can’t be cut from camp until Wednesday.
“It makes sense for them to go down there and get regular playing time rather than struggling to get at-bats up here,” Luhnow said. “As we get deeper and deeper into spring, the pitchers are going to be extended, but we want to see the position players be out there longer than two or three at-bats. It’s just a matter of allocating that resource of playing time.”
Luhnow said it hasn’t yet been determined at which level of the Minor Leagues the players cut on Sunday will begin the season. DeShields, the team’s first-round pick in 2010, was Houston’s Minor League Player of the Year after stealing a combined 101 bases last year. Springer, the team’s top Draft pick in 2011, put up big numbers at Class A Lancaster last year.
“Obviously, the more impressions they made here the better chance they have of starting at a higher level,” Luhnow said. “Realistically, given that Springer got a taste of Double-A last year and DeShields got a taste of high A, we don’t want to be too unrealistic about what the right level is for their development.”