Roster moves a signal of depth for Astros

White, Moran, Reed, Hernandez optioned after debuting in bigs last year

March 21st, 2017

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Infielders and , first baseman and outfielder -- all of whom made their Major League debuts last year -- were optioned to Minor League camp Tuesday in the Astros' latest round of roster cuts.

None of the four were expected to make the club, because the Astros are going to carry 13 pitchers -- 12 position players -- but they will provide experienced depth at Triple-A Fresno this year. General manager Jeff Luhnow said it's a signal the organization has taken a big step forward to have that kind of talent at the ready at Triple-A.

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"I think three years ago, there's a good chance all four of those guys would have made our Opening Day 25," he said. "They've all had good springs in different ways, and I believe all four of those guys are going to contribute to our big league team this year. But given what we did this offseason and where we are -- guys coming from the [World Baseball Classic] soon -- it made sense for this to happen now so they can go get some reps on the back fields and prepare for their seasons."

The club also announced Tuesday that catcher was outrighted to Triple-A Fresno after clearing waivers.

The moves leave the Astros with 39 players in camp, including the five players who remain away from the club because of the World Baseball Classic -- , , Luke Gregerson, and . They'll return to camp Friday.

Moran, who was 3-for-23 in his debut with the Astros last season, had a terrific spring at the plate, hitting .389 (14-for-36) with two homers and 10 RBIs. He's the Astros' No. 25 prospect, according to Reed, who hit .164 with three homers and eight RBIs in his debut last year, also had a good camp. He hit .306 with four homers and 11 RBIs in Grapefruit League play.

White, who made the Opening Day roster a year ago and was named the American League Player of the Week in the first week of the season, hit .231 in camp. Hernandez, who hit .230 with four homers and 11 RBIs for the Astros last year, batted .222 this spring. He's the team's No. 7 prospect.

Luhnow said White will play second, third and some first base at Triple-A. Moran will play third and first and perhaps some shortstop. Reed will be first base/designated hitter. All four players will likely be needed in Houston at some point.

"Any given year, those guys could have made a really strong push, but when we're at our best and healthy, those guys are fighting for a position on our team," manager A.J. Hinch said. "We're going to carry 13 pitchers, and once we made that determination and where we are health-wise, we felt it was important for those guys to go down and play."