HOUSTON, TX — The Houston Astros announced several 2018 non-roster invites to Major League Spring Training today, which includes eight pitchers, three catchers, three infielders and five outfielders for a total of 19 players. The announcement was made by Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow.
This group of 19 players also includes the previously announced minor league deals with C Tim Federowicz and RHP Matt Ramsey.
Joining Federowicz and Ramsey in Major League camp will be RHP Rogelio Armenteros, IF Randy Cesar, RHP Jacob Dorris, OF Drew Ferguson, RHP Riley Ferrell, OF Alejandro Garcia, RHP Mike Hauschild, OF Jon Kemmer, IF Jack Mayfield, RHP Brendan McCurry, C Jamie Ritchie, OF Myles Straw, C Garrett Stubbs, IF Nick Tanielu, RHP Trent Thornton, OF Kyle Tucker and LHP Framber Valdez.
Armenteros, 23, had arguably the best minor league season among all Astros pitching prospects in 2017, posting a 10-4 record and a 2.04 ERA (28ER/123.2IP) in 24 games (20 starts) between Triple A Fresno (10g) and Double A Corpus Christi (14g). He produced at both levels, posting a 1.93 ERA (14ER/65.1IP) with the Hooks, where he was a Texas League Midseason All-Star, and a 2.16 ERA (14ER/58.1IP) with the Grizzlies. Armenteros was originally signed by Houston out of Cuba on Sept. 15, 2014.
Cesar, 23, hit .297 (123x414) with 23 doubles, seven home runs and 57 RBI in 110 games combined between Class A Buies Creek (83g) and Class A Quad Cities (27g) in 2017. The right-handed hitting third baseman has been in the Astros system for six years (2012-17) since signing as a non-drafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2011.
Dorris, 24, went 4-2 with three saves and a 3.00 ERA (24ER/72IP) in 43 games combined between Fresno (20g) and Corpus Christi (23g) last season. After a midseason promotion to Fresno, Dorris excelled, posting a 3-0 record and a 1.87 ERA (7ER/33.2IP) in 20 appearances. He was originally signed by the Astros as a non-drafted free agent out of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in 2015.
Ferguson, 25, combined to hit .275 (114x415) with 25 doubles, nine home runs, 41 RBI and 18 stolen bases in 113 games between Fresno (29g) and Corpus Christi (84g) in 2017. He spent the majority of his season with the Hooks, where he was a Texas League Midseason All-Star and hit .292 (91x312) with a .390 on-base percentage and an .816 OPS. Ferguson was a 19th-round pick out of Belmont in the 2015 draft.
Ferrell, 24, combined to go 2-2 with six saves and a 3.67 ERA (22ER/54IP) in 38 relief appearances between Corpus Christi (36g) and Buies Creek (2g) last season. This season was his third with the Astros, but his first full healthy season since being selected out of TCU in the third round of the 2015 draft.
Garcia, 26, will be an NRI for the second consecutive year for the Astros after splitting his 2017 season between Fresno (50g) and Corpus Christi (42g). After a promotion to Fresno in May, Garcia went on to hit .269 (43x160) with 11 doubles and 19 RBI in 50 games. Garcia is a native Cuban and originally signed with the Astros after establishing residency in the Dominican Republic in July of 2015.
Hauschild, 27, had an active 2017 season which started for him as a Rule 5 selection by Texas. He made the Rangers roster out of Spring Training and appeared in four Major League games before being returned to Houston in late April. He would finish his year with Fresno, making 18 starts and posting a 6-2 record and a 4.58 ERA (46ER/90.1IP). Hauschild was originally a 33rd-round selection by Houston in the 2012 draft.
Kemmer, 27, played his entire 2017 season with Fresno, hitting .299 (91x304) with 17 doubles, 16 home runs, 57 RBI, a .399 on-base percentage and a .932 OPS in 87 games. The left-handed hitting outfielder was a 21st-round pick by the Astros in the 2013 draft out of Brewton-Parker College. Kemmer will be making his third straight appearance at Major League Spring Training.
Mayfield, 27, hit .283 (120x424) with 28 doubles, 20 home runs, 67 RBI, a .500 slugging percentage and an .827 OPS between Fresno (42g) and Corpus Christi (70g) last season. A Texas League Midseason All-Star in 2017, Mayfield played all over the infield, making starts at third base, shortstop and second base. This will be Mayfield’s first time as an NRI, although he did appear in 17 games for the Major League club last Spring Training as a minor league call up. He was originally signed as a non-drafted free agent out of the University of Oklahoma in 2013.
McCurry, 26, spent his 2017 season with Fresno, posting a 4-2 record with six saves and a 4.43 ERA (22ER/44.2IP) in 35 relief appearances. He once again posted solid strikeout numbers with 52 in 44.2 innings pitched and has amassed 265 strikeouts in 218.1 career minor league innings pitched. McCurry, who pitched collegiately at Oklahoma State, was acquired by Houston from Oakland on Nov. 25, 2015, in exchange for IF Jed Lowrie.
Ritchie, 24, hit .256 (62x242) with eight doubles, 20 home runs and 45 walks, against 44 strikeouts, in 76 games with Corpus Christi in 2017. He started 54 games behind the dish for the Hooks, while also making appearances at first base and designated hitter. Ritchie was originally a 13th-round selection by Houston in the 2014 draft.
Straw, 23, combined to hit .290 (140x483) with 17 doubles, seven triples, 44 RBI, 94 walks, a .405 on-base percentage and 36 stolen bases in 127 games between Corpus Christi (13g) and Buies Creek (114g) last season. He did most of his damage at Buies Creek, where he was a Carolina League Midseason and Postseason All-Star, after leading the league in runs scored (81) and on-base percentage (.412) and ranking second in batting average (.295). Straw was originally a 12th-round pick by the Astros in 2015.
Stubbs, 24, appeared in 98 games, making 82 starts behind the plate, for Fresno (23g, 19gs) and Corpus Christi (75g/63gs) last season. The left-handed hitting catcher was a Texas League Midseason All-Star in 2017, spending the first 75 games of the season with Corpus Christi, before his promotion to Fresno for his final 23 games. He enters the 2018 season ranked as the Astros No. 8 prospect per MLB.com and the top catching prospect in the system. Stubbs was originally an eighth-round pick out of USC in the 2015 draft.
Tanielu, 25, missed all but two games of the 2017 season while recovering from a right knee injury. In those two games, which were a rehab assignment with the GCL Astros, he went 2x5 with a double. In his last full season of 2016, Tanielu hit .285 (145x508) with 24 doubles, 11 home runs and 76 RBI in 130 games between Corpus Christi (95g) and Class A Lancaster (35g). He was originally drafted by Houston in the 14th round of the 2014 draft.
Thornton, 24, went 9-6 with a 5.21 ERA (76ER/131.1IP) in 25 games (23 starts) between Fresno (21g) and Corpus Christi (4g) last season. The 2018 campaign will be his fourth in the Astros system since being selected out of UNC in the fifth round of the 2015 draft.
Tucker, 21, was named the Astros 2017 Minor League Player of the Year after hitting .274 (127x464) with 33 doubles, 25 home runs, 90 RBI, 21 stolen bases and an .874 OPS in 120 games between Corpus Christi (72g) and Buies Creek (48g) in 2017. The left-handed hitting outfielder currently ranks as the club’s top position player prospect and is ranked by MLB.com as the No. 8 prospect in all of baseball. Tucker was originally drafted by Houston with the fifth overall selection in the 2015 draft.
Valdez, 24, went 7-8 with a 4.16 ERA (51ER/110.1IP) with 126 strikeouts in 25 games (18 starts) between Corpus Christi (12g) and Buies Creek (13g) in 2017. He impressed as a minor league call-up in 2017 Spring Training, appearing in five games, tossing 7.0 innings for the Astros. Valdez was originally signed by the Astros as a non-drafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2015.
With Houston’s 19 non-roster invites scheduled to attend camp, the overall Spring Training roster total is at 58 players (31 pitchers, 27 position players), including 39 players on the Astros 40-man roster. The first official Spring Training workout for Astros pitchers and catchers is scheduled for Feb. 14, and the first full squad workout is scheduled for Feb. 19.