January 09, 2014

Who's on first?


According to a tweet from Houston Chronicle reporter, Jose de Jesus Ortiz, Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said Tuesday that the club's first base job will be a "good healthy competition" in spring training.

Chris Carter, a first baseman, who is approaching the 30 home run plateau in the peak years of his career, is slated to bat in the six hole as the DH. That takes him basically out of the equation and competition.  Without Carter, the Astros still have a host of competitors vying for the first base gig. "Nobody is clearly separating himself in my mind, so it is going to be a good healthy competition," Luhnow said. The GM listed Marc Krauss, Jesus Guzman, Japhet Amador, Brett Wallace and Jonathan Singleton as the competitors for the spot.

Here is a rundown of the players;

  • Marc Krauss is a 26-year-old prospect, left-handed hitter who can also play in right field. He has some power potential but strikes out too much to run out there every day. He's more likely a left-handed bat off the bench, if he breaks spring training with the club, which isn't likely.
  • Jesus Guzman is a 29-year-old, right-handed hitter that has split playing time between first base and corner outfield with a career .259/.324/.418 line over four seasons with the Padres. Guzman should be in the lineup or on the bench on Opening Day.
  • Japhet Amador, a right-handed hitter, first baseman/DH, will turn 27 before the season starts. He stands 6'4" and weighs in a little over 300 pounds. The former Mexican League star batted .361/.409/.655 with 36 home runs and 123 RBI last season in Mexico before finishing the year with 10 games at Triple-A, Oklahoma City. He played well in the Arizona Fall League, hitting .284 with four HR and 12 RBI in 18 games, 84 at-bats. He is an interesting "27-year-old" prospect, who will need a good spring training, to bump one of the veterans off the 25-man roster.
  • Brett Wallace, the 27-year-old, former St. Louis Cardinals first-round draft pick, will be in the mix, but could struggle to find playing time. At times you see flashes of potential that could make him an every day player, then at other times, he looks completely lost at the plate, striking out an dreadful 36.5% of the time. I use to call him Brett "the Hitman" Wallace, when he was in the Cardinals minor league system. He'll need to hit and get off to a good start this spring to stick with the club. It's his job to lose.
  • Jonathan Singleton, one of the Astros top five prospects will eventually take over at first, it is just a matter of time, before the job is his. The 22-year-old, left-handed hitter, is coming off a monster stint in the Puerto Rican Winter League, where he led the league in home runs, total bases and OPS. He was suspended last season for 50 games for violating baseball's substance abuse policy and then there were concerns about his conditioning after the suspension.  Singleton should start the season at Triple-A, but could see playing time in Houston at some point during the season.

The Astros depth chart at first base looks like this now; Wallace, Singleton, & Carter. How long it stays that way, is now up in the air.





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