Results tagged ‘ Matt Dominguez ’
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.”
Astros manager Bo Porter was asked repeatedly this spring about setting his starting lineup, and he always gave the same answer: “Jose Altuve is my starting second baseman and he’s going to hit leadoff.” In other words, Porter was set on the 5-foot-6 Altuve as his starting second baseman, but every other position was up for grabs.
Though the evaluation process continues in the outfield, earlier this month Porter identified J.D. Martinez as the starting left-fielder, Robbie Grossman as the starting center-fielder and Jimmy Paredes as the starting right-fielder — for now. These names are by no means locked in as much as Altuve, an All-Star a year ago, but Porter’s declaration was more about finding out what Martinez, Grossman and Paredes can do to prove they belong.
Which brings us to Saturday night, when third baseman Matt Dominguez and catcher Jason Castro both hit two homers, becoming the first Astros teammates to do that since Lance Berkman and Craig Biggio in 2005.
Dominguez, a tremendous defender, has seven homers in his last 12 games after not hitting a homer in his first 33 games this year, and the former first-round pick Castro has homered three times in his last six games and is hitting .450 in that span. Dominguez is hitting .253 with seven homers and a team-leading 24 RBIs, and Castro is hitting .265 with six homers and 15 RBIs.
After the game, Porter was ready to say Dominguez and Castro had joined Altuve in locking up a starting spot for the long term, and considering there’s nobody in the Minor Leagues ready to push them, that’s a good thing for the Astros.
“We found ourself a third baseman and we found ourself a catcher,” Porter said. “And coming into the season we knew we had a second baseman. This is the thing: You let them play long enough, the questions you have, they’ll answer them. One way or another, they will answer the questions you need to have answered. I will not leave this season without getting every question I have in my head answered.”
As for first base and shortstop? Jonathan Singleton appears to be the first baseman of the future and will begin his Minor League season next week after missing the first 50 games because of a second failed drug test. The shortstop spot is being kept warm until 2012 No. 1 pick Carlos Correa is ready, though Jonathan Villar could be interesting to watch next year.
And don’t sleep on Chris Carter, who has enough power to entrench himself at first base or designated hitter if he can cut down on his strikeouts.
Whether any of these names are here when the Astros hope to contend in a few years remains to be seen, but there are some signs on hope in the rubble of a 14-35 season.
The Astros are going to call up third baseman Matt Dominguez from Triple-A Oklahoma City in time for him to be in uniform for Thursday’s series finale against the Giants.
Dominguez, acquired from the Marlins on July 4 in the Carlos Lee trade, is hitting .298 with two homers and 23 RBIs for the RedHawks. He appeared in four games for the Astros earlier this year and had two hits in eight at-bats.
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said a corresponding roster move will be announced Thursday. Houston outfielder Ben Francisco was scratched from the lineup just prior to Wednesday’s game with what interim manager Tony DeFrancesco called a right wrist strain, but the extent of the injury isn’t known.
Dominguez, the Marlins’ 12th overall pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, is regarded as a standout defensive player who has had his struggles at the plate. In 78 games with Triple-A New Orleans prior to getting traded, the 23-year-old batted .234 with seven home runs and 46 RBIs in 78 games.