Last season, the Houston Astros lost 107 games and finished in the National League basement. This year, they will likely top 100 losses again, especially since they are making their American League West debut. Yet many patient Astros fans are excited, and with good reason.
Since Jeff Luhnow joined the club as general manager last offseason, he has shed the roster of numerous veterans through trades that have yielded an array of promising prospects. A once dormant farm system is now stocked with future impact players like shortstop Carlos Correa, the first overall pick in last summer’s draft; power right-hander Lance McCullers, a supplemental first rounder last June; first baseman Jonathan Singleton (who is the club’s top overall prospect but will serve a 50-game suspension for testing positive for marijuana; outfielder George Springer; right-hander Jarred Cosart and second baseman Delino DeShields Jr.
Seemingly never hesitant to implement a deal, Luhnow recently sent shortstop Jed Lowrie and pitcher Fernando Rodriguez for power-hitting first baseman/DH Chris Carter, right-hander Brad Peacock and catcher Max Stassi. With the Astros starting a new era in a new league, Carter’s presence bolsters a lineup that will also include power-hitting first baseman/third baseman Brett Wallace, first baseman/DH Carlos Pena, 22-year-old second baseman Jose Altuve (Houston’s lone All-Star in 2012) and 23-year-old third baseman Matt Dominguez.
The Astros hope that 25-year-old catcher Jason Castro, veteran shortstop Tyler Greene (who has mostly been used as a utility player in his Major League career), young outfielders Fernando Martinez and J.D. Martinez, and center fielder Justin Maxwell are ready for full-time spots.
While Houston’s lineup could struggle to score runs, the rotation will likely take a pounding against most AL lineups. Lucas Harrell and Bud Norris are ideally suited for back of the rotation roles, but they headline the Astros rotation. Trade acquisitions on Cosart, John Ely and Alex White, and Dallas Keuchel, could eventually become reliable Major League starters, but for now they will compete for the No. 5 spot. Jordan Lyles and free agent signee Phil Humber are projected to earn rotation spots.
Jose Veras, who has five Major League saves in 327 games over six seasons, will be the team’s closer. The bullpen will feature a myriad of mostly inexperienced arms, including Rule 5 draftee Josh Fields, who has closer potential.
By 2015, the Astros should be competitive when the plethora of high-profile prospects are Major League ready. As for now, Houston fans must remain patient.
About Osceola County Stadium
Home of the Houston Astros spring training camp since 1985, Osceola County Osceola County Stadium is the smallest in the Grapefruit League with 5,300 seats, making the park cozy and more accessible for players.
Unlike newer stadiums, neither the home clubhouse or the visiting clubhouse is connected to dugouts, so players must walk outside with fans where they will frequently sign autographs and pose for photographs. At the park, pine trees line the outfield. In right field, at the end of the grandstand, a playground appeals to kids who don’t want to watch the game.
For more information about tickets and the Astros spring training schedule, visit here. For more details about the ballpark, visit www.osceolastadium.com.
Nestled in the heart of Disney World and located near Orlando, which includes a myriad of theme parks in addition to Universal Studios and Sea World, there is no shortage of fun possibilities for Houston Astros fans when they are not watching their team during spring training at Osceola County Stadium.
Among the options include:
- Forever Florida, a 4,700 acre eco-ranch and wildlife conservation area boasting beautifully untamed wilderness, natural streams, wetlands and dense cypress forests. Forever Florida has eco-safaris that transport visitors through a rare wild part of the state preserved just as it was centuries ago. The destination boasts nine distinct Florida ecosystems which are home to an endless array of natural flora and fauna including alligators, black bears, white-tail deer, around 200 species of birds and the endangered Florida Panther.
- Boggy Creek Airboat Rides is a wind-in-your-face educational exploration of the wetlands that serve as the headwaters to the Florida Everglades. Opened in 1994 with just one six-passenger boat, Boggy Creek now has the largest fleet of U.S. Coast Guard inspected and certified airboats for commercial use. Piloted by U.S. Coast Guard certified Master Captains, the airboats skim across Lake Tohopekaliga, reaching speeds up to 40 mph. Strategic stops along the tour provide passengers up close looks at the wetlands, the lake’s native plants and wildlife (and gators on occasion).
- Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament is America’s longest running dinner attraction. Guests experience entertainment inspired by 11th century history; and witness live jousting, swordplay, horsemanship and falconry. Guests are taken back in time and encouraged to cheer for one of six “Knights of the Realm,” named after historic regions of medieval Spain, while feasting on a four-course banquet served in true medieval, pre-silverware fashion.
Houston Astros Spring Training Information
First Practice Dates
February 11 – Pitchers and Catchers
February 15 – Position Players
Osceola County Stadium
631 Heritage Park Way
Kissimmee, FL 34744
For information about the Kissimmee area, visit www.visitkissimmee.com