It’s that time of year! Welcome to Spring Training, where everything is made up and the games don’t matter! In all seriousness though, Spring Training games can provide us with some information, especially when looking at context of match-ups and who is on the spot. I wouldn’t use it to influence my decisions in redraft leagues too much, but it really can provide us some insight on prospects that are in the midst of making a big leap and to help us get ahead of the crowd.
The Astros are clearly a team going for it all this year and this allows us to look at guys that they actually want to evaluate for the upcoming year. Teams like the White Sox or Marlins may use Spring Training as a showcase to fans of what to get excited for in the next couple of years. The Astros need to know who to count on now or in a few months. In my opinion we can legitimately use the stats compiled to make some aggressive decisions, especially when it comes to prospects. And of course, thanks to the geniuses behind baseball-reference.com, we can also take a look at the quality of opponent stat. I put their number in parentheses after their name. Remember:
|1||Me, Basically, if I played.|
Nick Tanielu, IF (6.7) – Tanielu is definitely a little old at 26, but he has been hitting his entire minor league career, and this spring is showing some major power with 4 HRs and a 1.284 OPS (Of course SSS applies in spades here, but let’s not get caught up on all that just yet). To me, the power isn’t THAT real, but this guy can hit and he can play all over the field. He won’t be overwhelmed and he seems like a very cheap solution to Marwin Gonzalez’s departure. He won’t hit like Marwin, but he should fill the same role. To me, he might be Martin Prado and that’s fantasy relevant for many leagues. He’s the first guy up now, I believe, if an injury takes place; be aware, however, that any such injury would probably lead to a trade of a more established player. However, if he is raking he may force the Astro’s hand here. He was at #32 on the Top 50 list, as a tier 4 player and I’d still keep him in that tier but I’d probably want to jump him up 5-6 spots based on the production and immediate opportunity at hand. Plus, his story (below) makes you root for the kid.
Garrett Stubbs, C (6.7) – I love this guy. Again, a little old at 25 but catching prospects always take some time to be fully seasoned. He’s short at 5’ 10’’ and only 175 pounds (That’s my weight…10 years ago. And I am no catcher) but he’s agile and quick twitch oriented. He also can flat out hit, as his .310 at AAA last year shows. So then, ask yourself this simple question; what is the weakest position currently on the Astros 25 man roster? It’s at catcher and it’s not even close. To me, Stubbs may already be the best option at catcher in the entire system, although that may be a bit aggressive. He is, at the very least, better than Max Stassi and his career minor league average of .247 (Stubbs is at .275). I truly believe Stubbs should take over as the backup within the first few months of the season, and immediately battle Chirinos for playing time. He may even be a long term solution, based on the current state of MLB catchers. I’d move him and his very fantasy friendly profile up to the top of Tier 3, behind Myles Straw at #11.
AJ Hinch is a big fan of Garrett Stubbs, who is clearly the third catcher at this point pic.twitter.com/EiE32nK0kx
— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) February 17, 2019
Abraham Toro, 3b/C (7.0) – Fun fact – Toro has some professional experience behind the dish. He’s hitting .333 this spring, albeit with little else, and he has struck out a few too many times for me to get ultra excited, but he’s a guy that put up an impressive AFL (.348/.463/.561) and has put up some decent power numbers in the past. He’s a switch-hitter, which I have a soft spot for, and unlike the other guys, he is only 22 and showing some nice upside for a Canadian 5th round pick (I can say that, I’m part Canadian). He is just simply on the wrong team, and would have to fight for DH duties in the future, which I wouldn’t bet on him winning. However, he is definitely someone the Astros could possibly trade in a mid-season move, and I could see a world where he is up for a cup of coffee and playing for a bad team full time in 2020. He was already ranked pretty fairly at #15 but he’s a guy that I’ll keep my eye on going forward to see if there is some sneaky value for later.
— John T Eshleman (@2080_John) October 13, 2018
Seth Beer, 1b (6.1) – I love beer. I just don’t love Seth Beer. He’s alright, don’t get me wrong. Hell, his swing reminds me of Freddie Freeman’s. But at least Freddie is great with his glove and arm and can even steal a bag or two. Beer’s 45 grade arm, 20 (!) grade running and 30 grade fielding, clearly shows he is DH only and those guys just don’t appeal to me on the fantasy level or the real life level. He has to hit, and he almost ALWAYS has to hit, regardless of Spring Training or any Tuesday in AA in July. His .167 BA in 6 at bats most likely means absolutely nothing, but wouldn’t a guy with Beer’s profile that is going to be successful just have a killer spring, regardless of the at-bats? I don’t know exactly what Beer will do, but I know I like to bet on the odds, and in the past more players with his profile have failed than succeeded and this spring hasn’t changed my mind. His Freeman-esque swing make me not want to drop him a lot, so let’s just move him 2 spots down, behind Framber Valdez.
Taylor Jones, 1b (6.3) – Coming in at #49, there is not a lot of room to fall for Jones, and to be fair, I actually like his swing. When I squint I see Rhys Hoskins. He is athletic and has some lift and really broke out last year at AA/AAA with 18 home-runs. This “faller” is more of how this was a missed opportunity for Jones to gain some momentum and skyrocket up lists. Depressingly, he’s done next to nothing this spring, going 1 for 13. He is also older at 25, and this type of profile can’t afford to have a bad showing like this or otherwise the organization will decide to move on completely. I’ve seen this too many times before. I still hold out hope for him, and I wouldn’t want to push him out of the top 50, but his time is quickly running out to push for the big leagues.
Brady Rodgers, P – One of the first cuts in camp, Rodgers got a lot of run considering his uninspiring past performances and injury history. He did not make the most of it. He posted a 5.63 ERA in 8 IP and I don’t believe we will be seeing much of Rodgers this year or with the Astros. AJ Hinch was quoted to saying he wanted to reward the right hander for coming back healthy and ready for Spring, but ultimately I don’t see Rodgers with much future. He has below-average stuff, needs to pinpoint everything and he is 28. He wasn’t on the top 50 list, and to me this Spring Training was the last hoorah for a guy that I’ve always kind thought had a chance to carve out a role.