Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
With Evan Gattis' status for Opening Day uncertain as he works his way back from February sports hernia surgery, Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow suggested that prospects A.J. Reed and Tyler White could take his place during a recent appearance on SiriusXM's MLB Network Radio:
Both could make the team...but I wouldn’t say just two guys, either. I think Matt Duffy’s got to be in that equation as well. [Pacific Coast League] Player of the Year, he’s had a good spring so far and you can’t count Jon Singleton out either. He’s had a couple of good years in the minor leagues, just hasn’t put it together at the big leagues.
While Gattis occupies only one roster spot, there are two positions in play here—first base and designated hitter. And there's another player Luhnow failed to mention that factors into all of this as well—outfielder Preston Tucker.
Both Duffy and Tucker made their MLB debuts—and started their service-time clocks—last season. Neither one has had a terrible spring, so it's not a stretch to assume that both are going to be part of the team's Opening Day roster.
Duffy, like White, is a right-handed hitter who's capable of playing the infield corners. If the Astros are going to go with a platoon at first base, either Singleton or Reed—both lefties—would be the choice.
Tucker, a left-handed bat, hit 13 home runs in 98 games, and with Houston's outfield already set, he's a logical candidate to take some at-bats as a designated hitter. White's right-handed bat could platoon with him there.
The Astros have options but not enough available roster spots to bring both prospects along for Opening Day. It also makes little sense to start both of their service-time clocks when Gattis is going to be back shortly after Opening Day, assuming he starts the year on the 15-day disabled list.
When it's all said and done, only one of them will break camp with the Astros. The next two weeks will determine which one gets the nod.