By Nina Zimmerman on May 11, 2014
After a franchise worst 51-111 debut in the powerful AL West, hopes didn’t run very high for the Astros carrying over into the new year. The club lived up to expectations through the first month of the season, posting an 11-26 record as of today. But for all their struggles to find a W here and there, the Astros also staged some surprises. Here is a list of five things we’ve learned about the young and developing Astros after the first 25 games.
Brought in to take the place of the injured Scott Feldman, McHugh pitched so well that he stayed in the rotation even when Feldman returned. In his first start, against the Seattle Mariners, McHugh struck out 12 batters in his 6.2 innings of work. He has a 2-1 record and 2.81 ERA in four starts, and could provide the Astros with punch as a No. 2 starter down the road.
Though the Astros’ rotation has undergone some tweaks in the first month of the season, it’s worth noting that of the five currently starting — Scott Feldman, Collin McHugh, Jarred Cosart, Dallas Keuchel and Brad Peacock — only Peacock and Cosart have losing records. McHugh took the place of the 0-6 Brett Oberholtzer, while Lucas Harrell lost his spot in the rotation after posting a 9.49 ERA in three starts.
The Astros rank dead last in baseball with a .220 team batting average and third-to-last with 127 runs score this year. Second baseman Jose Altuve leads the team’s regulars with a .276 batting average, and only backup infielder Marwin Gonzalez is hitting above .300. Though the pitching may be getting stronger, the Astros’ offense needs to give its starters more of a boost.
The organization’s third-ranked prospect, Springer finally made his long-awaited debut on April 16. Though he’s put up a slash line of just .227/.284/.341 and struck out 33 times in 88 at-bats, Springer also shows considerable range and agility in the outfield. He has all of the tools to be a star of the Astros’ teams of the future, and enforces the potential of the strong farm system the organization is in the process of building.
The Astros’ system includes Class-A Advanced shortstop Carlos Correa, the first overall selection in the 2012 draft and the No. 2 shortstop prospect in all of baseball, and 2013’s first overall selection Mark Appel. While Appel struggled out of the gate, Correa is hitting .322 with 28 RBIs so far in 2014, and could slug his way to Double-A before the season's end. Even if the present is pretty ugly, there’s plenty of hope for the future.
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