8 Players You've Never Heard of Who Are in the Houston Astros Camp This Spring

Brandon Croce@@BrandonCroceAnalyst IMarch 12, 2012

8 Players You've Never Heard of Who Are in the Houston Astros Camp This Spring

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    Every spring team invites extra players and prospects to create competition for roster spots. It also gives some younger players an opportunity to face major league level competition and the organization to evaluate some of their prospects.

    Generally teams will have a number of players that casual fans wouldn't recognize, but the Astros are in a different situation because they have been calling up a number of prospects over the past two years. Here are eight players currently in camp that fans may not have heard of.

Fernando Martinez

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    Fernando Martinez is actually a pretty big name, but Astros fans may not know much about him. The Astros claimed him off of waivers this winter from the Mets.

    Omar Minaya signed him back in 2005 when he was 16, and he was named the Mets' top prospect in 2008 by Baseball America. He has struggled since then mainly because he has trouble staying healthy.

    If he has a strong camp he could be a huge pick up for the Astros and contribute to the team this season. 

Kyle Weiland

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    This is another player that some might have heard about, but didn't realize was on the Astros' roster. He was the second player that was traded to Houston, along with Jed Lowrie, for closer Mark Melancon.

    He pitched in seven games last season for the Red Sox, going 0-3 with a 7.66 ERA. I expected him to start the season with the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Astros Triple A affiliate, but with Brett Myers' move to the pen, that opens another spot in the rotation. 

    He has had a strong camp so far pitching four scoreless innings with a 1-0 record, so I could definitely see him grabbing that final spot in the rotation.

Brian Bixler

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    Brian Bixler has bounced around the majors playing for Washington last season and the Pittsburgh Pirates two years before. The Astros claimed him off waivers back in November.

    He has played in seven games this spring going 1-for-5 with two runs scored. Bixler will most likely start the year in Oklahoma City since the Astros already have a crowded outfield.

Marwin Gonzalez

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    Marwin Gonzalez is a Rule 5 player who the Astros acquired from the Red Sox this past winter. Gonzalez will need to stay on the Astros' 25 man roster all season or they could end up losing him to Boston.

    Gonzalez is a good defensive shortstop, but has struggled at the plate. This spring he is only hitting .083, but I could see him staying with the Astros the whole season because of his defensive play.

Rhiner Cruz

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    Rhiner Cruz is the other Rule 5 player on the Astros this season and has a tougher chance of making the 25-man roster. He was selected from the Mets organization and has never pitched higher than Double-A.

    He has struggled this spring, making one appearance and giving up three runs en route to a  blown save opportunity. I would consider him a long shot to make the roster this year.

Jorge De Leon

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    Jorge De Leon is a relief pitcher who pitched for Lexington, the Astros' Single-A affiliate, last year. He went 6-4 with a 3.82 ERA in 35 appearances.

    He is still a few years away, but it's good to see him getting an opportunity to face some major league hitting. He has pitched one scoreless inning so far this spring.

Justin Ruggiano

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    Justin Ruggiano, who played for the Rays last season, was signed to a non-roster contract this winter. The chances of him making the roster is a long shot, but he could be a good veteran to have on the bench.

    Ruggiano has only two at-bats this spring, but was slated to start in right field on Sunday before the game was rained out. I would not be surprised to see him on the Opening Day roster.

Arcenio Leon

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    Arcenio Leon pitched at the Double-A and Triple-A level in the Astros organization going 3-4 with a 4.86 ERA. The 25-year-old relief pitcher struggled this spring in his only appearance, giving up one run and failing to register an out.

    Leon is still a couple of years away and his appearance in camp may be an attempt to evaluate his performance against major league hitting and what his ceiling could be.