6 Houston Astros Who Impressed in Spring Training
Even though they finished spring training 3-7 over their last 10 games, the Houston Astros had the most wins with 14 since 2007. Part of this success is due to the Astros' improved farm system that has been built up thanks to Ed Wade the past few seasons.
There have been a number of players who have stepped up as well this spring and will be looking to carry a fast start into the regular season. These are the six most impressive Houston Astros this spring.
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Fernando Abad will have an increased role coming out of the bullpen with the season-ending injury to Sergio Escalona. He had 11 strikeouts in 8.2 innings of work, but the most impressive number is one, as in one walk over spring training.
If he can continue to keep his walks down he should be a big asset coming out of the bullpen.
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According to Zachary Levine of Ultimate Astros, the Astros have optioned Jordan Lyles to Oklahoma City, which has opened the door for Lucas Harrell and Kyle Weiland.
Weiland came over in the Mark Melancon trade with Jed Lowrie and has had a strong spring so far. He is 2-1 with an ERA of 2.86, keeping opponents' batting average at .228 and striking out 13. Weiland could be a great addition to the end of the starting rotation.
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J.D. Martinez has been penciled in as the starter in left field for the Astros all spring and was never in any real danger of losing that spot. He hasn't completely erased all concerns, though, hitting only .228.
However, he has made his hits count as he has 13 hits and 12 RBI. He will also need to work on his plate discipline with only two walks in 56 at-bats.
This should be expected, though, from a player who made the jump from Double-A straight to the majors last season. Martinez has shown an unexpected level of maturity with this move, and that should help him going forward.
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Chris Johnson has performed well in years past during spring training and struggled in the early part of the season. So this may sound like a broken record to some fans, but once again Johnson had a strong spring.
Brad Mills and the Astros ended the competition early at third base because of Chris Johnson's play. He finished the spring with a batting average of .368, five home runs and 11 RBI. Hopefully this fast start carries over to the regular season.
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There hasn't been a more dominating pitcher on the Astros' staff than Wilton Lopez so far this season. He's pitched nine innings and has only allowed one run. The only thing more impressive is that he did not allow a single walk and struck out 11.
Lopez is cemented as the setup man for Brett Myers this season, but if Lopez keeps pitching like that, can Brad Mills afford not to make him the team's closer?
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Jason Castro has had a great spring and this has to be music to all Astros fans' ears. Castro missed the entire 2011 season with a knee injury suffered in spring training, which sent the catcher position into chaos.
Castro, along with Chris Snyder, should provide some stability to the position this season. His defensive ability was never a question and should once again be an asset, but he is even swinging the bat better at the plate. Through 41 at-bats, he is hitting .341 and has chipped in nine RBI.