Top 5 Points of Excitement for 2014 Houston Astros

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Finding Excitement Amongst The Astros

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Troy Taormina - USA TODAY Sports

Anything will be an upgrade over the dreadful 2013 season that saw the Houston Astros set another franchise record for most losses ever in a single year. Their offensive numbers were atrocious, particularly in strikeouts, and their pitching wasn’t much better. Their starters were decent enough, but the bullpen was obviously awful.

So 2014 is a big year for the Astros. No one expects them to compete for a playoff spot, but they may surprise some people. After hitting rock bottom and becoming the laughing stock of the league, the Astros needs a rebound season desperately. Luckily for them, 2014 has plenty of exciting opportunities that could spark a somewhat successful season. They could put together a pretty good year if several things click together.

There are very few foundation pieces already in place. Jose Altuve and Matt Dominguez are keystones at second and third base, respectively, and Jason Castro will no doubt be an everyday player barring injuries, but aside from them and the front end of the starting rotation, there is plenty of room for breakout performers.

With a young team and new coaches, the key is time. They need to build chemistry and mesh together as a team for the long haul. You can’t rush something like that, but you can enhance it with the right pieces of the puzzle. There are plenty of pieces out of place and fluttering about within the organization.

Obviously there are a lot of young guys that will be exciting to watch. Guys like Jonathan Villar and Matt Dominguez didn’t make the list, not because they aren’t exciting, but because they don’t have as much hype surrounding them. They both performed at the Major League level and they’ve either lived up to their expectations or exceeded them.

Yes, they’ll still be exciting, but there’s also very little chance of a major let-down. Brandon Barnes will obviously be exciting too, but he was in 2013 too, so it should come as no surprise. This list is dedicated to guys who still have something to prove.

So here are the five points/players of excitement to watch on the Houston Astros going into the 2014 season.

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5. Jonathan Singleton

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H. Darr Beiser - USA TODAY Sports

As the No. 1 first base prospect in the league, the pressure is there. As the team with some of the worst offensive producing first baseman in all of 2013, the opportunity is there. If Jonathan Singleton can fit the bill of what’s expected of him, he could become the most exciting Astro in 2014. But again, given his shortened 2013 season, there are still plenty of question marks surrounding the powerful lefty.

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4. The Starting Rotation

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David Banks - USA TODAY Sports

It’s a bit redundant to claim this as a point of excitement when they were the main reason fans even watched the Astros in the first place in 2013. Jarred Cosart, Brett Oberholtzer and Brad Peacock have already been preemptively anointed the front three, and given how they finished 2013, it’s well deserved. 2014 will be a big year to see if they can keep their youthful momentum rolling.

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3. Mark Appel and Carlos Correa

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Thomas Campbell - USA TODAY Sports

Both first overall picks, Carlos Correa and Mark Appel are performing just as well as can be expected from the first player taken in any given year. While neither one rose higher than Single-A ball in 2013, they both have shown incredible signs of progression, and 2014 will be a year of steady advancement for them, hopefully. Mark Appel could even take a crack at the Majors this year. While Correa is unlikely to mimic that, anything is possible, as he controls his own destiny.

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2. Robbie Grossman

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Thomas Campbell - USA TODAY Sports

Robbie Grossman still manages not to appear on too many prospect lists or radars, which is incredibly surprising. He managed to hit .322 following his second call-up, exhibited surprising power and it’s hard to forget his 100-walk/100-run season prior to joining the Astros organization. Grossman is another Astros’ prospect that is exceeding expectations by all leaps and bounds and hopefully his success will continue.

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1. George Springer

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Brad Penner

This one is obvious. The hubbub surrounding George Springer is enough to make any Astros fan overwhelmed with excitement. They saved him until he was approaching the prime years of his career. It’s like Springer is a wind-up toy and the Astros have just been winding him up. Now, they just need to release him and let him destroy Major League hitting.

Or at least that’s the plan.

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