Thursday, December 14, 2017

Astros Transactions: Hot Stove and Rule 5

A few more Astros transactions to report ...

On Wednesday, the Astros agreed to a two-year deal with RHP Joe Smith. (Deadspin weighs in on his uncommonly common name here.) The Astros were looking for a veteran bullpen arm and with 11 seasons worth of experience in MLB for five different teams, Smith qualifies. In 698 games over the years, he has a 44-28 record with 30 saves, a 2.97 ERA and a 1.185 WHIP. In 2017, he appeared in 59 games (54IP) with a 3.33 ERA, a 1.037 WHIP and 10 walks to 71 strikeouts.

In today's Rule 5 Draft, the Astros picked up LHP Anthony Gose from the Rangers. Wait. What?! I thought he was an OF! Well, he was. That was until he wasn't. It seems that when you can throw 100 mph as a lefty, you get the attention of a team looking for lefty bullpen pitching like the Astros. He's only pitched in 11 games competitively, all in the High-A Florida State League. Two rough outings blew up his ERA to 7.59, but he held batters to a .189 batting average in his 10.2 innings of work. Keeping Gose on the 25-man roster for the 2018 season isn't going to be easy, but there is some exceptional upside if he can pull off this whole pitching gig. Gose may sound familiar to you. He was an Astro for a nanosecond in 2010. Baseball is a crazy world.

Elieser Hernandez - August 2015
Photo by Jayne Hansen

On the other side of the coin, the Astros lost RHP Elieser Hernandez to the Marlins in the Rule 5 draft. The baby-faced 22-year old Venezuelan has never pitched above High-A and has been quite inconsistent at times, but (according to my notes from 2016) has a lively low to mid-90's fastball and a solid changeup to work with. He missed almost two months of the 2017 season, but when he made it back to Buies Creek in the latter part of July, he put up a very strong 2.67 ERA and 1.069 WHIP in his final eight games of the season there. In four starts in Venezuela this winter, he had a 2.20 ERA and a 0.918 WHIP in a very competitive league. If Hernandez can show consistency with the Marlins, he could potentially stick with that team.

In the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft, the Astros selected LHP Chris Nunn from the Cubs. After sitting out all of 2016, Nunn appeared in one game for the Independent League Evansville Otters in 2017 before being scooped up by the Cubs and sent to their AA club. In four starts for the Tennessee Smokies, he had a 4.76 ERA and a 1.353 WHIP. Nunn can reportedly throw in the range of 97-98. He was first drafted by the Padres in the 24th round in 2012 out of Lipscomb University and was 27 in October. As a reminder, in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft, the player basically becomes the property of the selecting team so there will be no need to offer Nunn back to the Cubs if he doesn't work out.

Also of interest to some of the long-time Astros minor league fans out there, RHP Drew Muren is on the move again. Drafted by the Astros as an outfielder in the 22nd round in 2011, Muren reinvented himself as a pitcher in 2015. After spending time in the Diamondbacks organization, he found himself picked up by the Giants in August. Muren was selected from the Giants by the Blue Jays in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft today.


  1. Really surprised Marlins took Hernandez, who hasn't pitched above high A ball and isn't on any of the top 20 or 30 lists for the Astros. Obviously, his Venezuelan winter league performance must have caught their eye. I am also very surprised the Astros took Gose - the chances of Gose sticking it would seem is slimmer than any usual rule 5 pick in that he has had almost no experience as a pitcher, and would need to make the major league roster of a contending team. Why take up a roster spot on this guy, even temporarily? Very strange.

    1. I've actually always liked Hernandez and with what the Marlins are doing, he may actually stick. His ceiling would be a #4 or #5 starter IMO, but they may like him for relief and he'd probably do very well there. Who knows?

      As far as Gose goes, I actually love it! Since he'd probably only be used as a lefty specialist and he can hit 100 on the radar gun, if it works out, it could be tremendous! If it doesn't, they're out $50K. It's a ballsy move, but could pay off really big if it works. I guess we'll see!