Houston Astros fans — there many reasons to love this team and being able to stay on top of what’s going in Spring Training is one of them. We’re really getting to see the young guns elevate themselves to be a part of this roster soon. Despite what some of us think, the team sees top prospect Francis Martes as a future starter. Here’s why that’s the case.
The Houston Astros 25-man roster is likely going to be pretty much set from now until the end of Spring Training with some minor tweaks with the injury and recovery of Yuli Gurriel. Although it’s understood that likely Marwin Gonzalez fill the gap at first base, there’s still a few position players like Tyler White, A.J. Reed and J.D. Davis to fill the void while Gurriel is out.
But solving that problem is not a difficult solution with the tremendous amount of depth that this team has in its arsenal. But what’s the latest that’s going on the pitching front, another unit that has vast depth?
The latest is that the Houston Astros have big plans for Francis Martes to develop him into a starter for later down the road. It’s highly-unlikely that we’d expect that out of him this season but moving forward, one can certainly start placing their bets on that notion.
Part of that development is that they want him to get a solid change up going so that it increase his repertoire of pitches in his stable. We already know that he has a terrific fast ball as he’s one of our most powerful hurlers, with his breaker being notable as well. But it’s that third pitch that he needs in order to fool batters and A.J. Hinch thinks that could be his changeup.
Here’s what Hinch told Brian McTaggart of MLB.com:
“It’s a sign of maturity and a sign of an understanding it’s going to be an important pitch,” Hinch said. “Especially in the spring, if you don’t dedicate some of your time in the game doing it you’ll never get the proper reps. He’s been better. That would be a huge development for him if we can incorporate the changeup.”
Hinch also added that the club also feels that he is truly a starter over the long-term and that he must incorporate the changeup in order elevate his success exponentially.
Martes will also have to continue to work on his ability to locate correctly as last season was one of encouragement but he would sometimes be placing his pitches all over the place. Decorum and meticulousness are important attributes for a pro pitcher and he’ll have to master that as well if he wants to be a starter.
He’s lost weight coming into camp as well as working on his execution but don’t expect that triple-digit heat pitch to go away as that’s his calling card. But it’d be nice to see a rock-solid change up out of him.
Of course, we know that he’ll likely get his opportunities to develop in the bullpen before making the switch whenever that will be. This team has so much depth at that position, he may be like one of many, who will likely have to start the season at Triple-A Fresno. But we’ll have to see about that as there’s still a lot of Spring Training games left.
Francis pitched encouragingly yesterday in relief against the Washington Nationals, striking out four, allowing one hit, one earned run and walked one through 2.2 innings of work. However, it was a 8-1 losing effort.