Scott Schreiber possesses some of the best raw power in the Astros system, though he hasn't gotten much of a chance to show it. He has played just 103 games over the past three seasons, losing 2020 to the pandemic shutdown and dealing with back issues the last two years.
After surgery in the spring, Schreiber feels healthier than ever. The first baseman/outfielder didn't get back on the diamond until August and is getting some extra playing time with the Surprise Saguaros in the Arizona Fall League.
"That was something that lingered ever since early college," said Schreiber, who earned all-Big Ten Conference recognition three times in four years at Nebraska. "Kind of got over it, kind of had setbacks, finally had the surgery. It's really been amazing, honestly, to have that relief of knowing that's fixed. I'm just looking forward to building upon that."
Though he's known most for his well-above-average pop from the right side of the plate, Schreiber is more than just a masher. He's quicker than most 6-foot-3, 230-pounders and can steal an occasional base and play a capable corner outfield.
A ninth-round pick in 2018, Schreiber hit just .227/.295/.380 with a 31 percent strikeout rate in his first two years as a pro. The Astros worked with him to cut down his stride at the plate, and he responded by batting .293/.355/.527 with a 22 percent whiff rate in 2021.
Schreiber said he made some mental adjustments as well that also made a big difference in his production.
"More just keeping things simple and really just relying on the things that I do well and making sure that each and every day I come to the field with a plan," said Schreiber, who went 7-for-28 (.250) with three extra-base hits and eight RBIs in his first eight games with Surprise. "The years prior to that, I got lost trying to fix mechanical things each and every day instead of just being consistent with what I have and what I do well."
Schreiber turned 27 during the Fall League season, so he's older than most prospects. Incumbent Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel is a pending free agent who's 38 years old and coming off a dismal year, and Schreiber could get a look at some point next year if he remains healthy and productive.
Astros hitters in the Fall League
J.C. Correa, C/2B/3B: The younger brother of former Astros superstar Carlos Correa, J.C. led the Minors in lowest strikeout rate (8 percent) while batting .309/.364/.446 with eight homers in 105 High-A games. Signed as a nondrafted free agent out of Lamar in 2020, he's a contact hitter who has played six positions in two pro seasons.
Zach Daniels, OF (No. 29): A 2020 fourth-round pick from Tennessee, Daniels has an eye-catching combination of power and speed but struggles to make consistent contact. He batted .282/.371/.422 with 23 homers and 22 steals in 95 games in High-A.
Will Wagner, INF: Another relative of a former Houston All-Star -- he's the son of Billy -- Will is a scrappy utility type whose best attribute is his on-base ability. The 18th-round pick in 2021 from Liberty hit .261/.374/.394 with 10 homers in 117 games between High-A and Double-A.
Astros pitchers in the Fall League
Colton Gordon, LHP (No. 24): The Astros took Gordon in 2021's eighth round out of Central Florida even though he had Tommy John surgery two months before the Draft. He logged a 2.35 ERA, .182 opponent average and 78/8 K/BB ratio in 53 2/3 innings between three levels in his pro debut this summer. He has a deceptive fastball that ranges from 89-94 mph and backs it up with three average secondary pitches.
Rhett Kouba, RHP: Selected in the 12th round out of Dallas Baptist in 2021, Kouba employs a four-pitch mix highlighted by a 90-93 mph fastball and a solid 80-83 mph slider. He recorded a 4.08 ERA with 85 strikeouts in 70 2/3 innings between Single-A and High-A.
Matt Ruppenthal, RHP: Ruppenthal's best weapons are his slider and curveball, and he sets up his breaking pitches with a low-90s sinker. A 17th-rounder in 2017 out of Vanderbilt, he posted a 4.13 ERA, .197 opponent average and 84 strikeouts in 61 Double-A innings.
Jonathan Sprinkle, RHP: Signed as a nondrafted free agent out of NCAA Division II Central Missouri, Sprinkle compiled a 5.88 ERA with 70 strikeouts in 49 Double-A innings. He uses his 6-foot-6 frame to add deception to a 90-95 mph fastball with cutter action and a 78-83 mph slider.