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Astros tab James for MLB debut vs. Halos

Hinch eager to see right-hander with 'high-end stuff' in action
Special to MLB.com

HOUSTON -- Powerful right-hander Josh James, ranked as the Astros' No. 6 prospect by MLB Pipeline, will make his Major League debut with a start against the Angels on Saturday night, manager AJ Hinch confirmed on Friday.

"He's just performed his way to the big leagues," Hinch said. "He's punching out everybody in the Minors. The next test for him is going to be at this level. He's conquered everything else. He's the best available, and has outperformed a lot of pitchers along the way to climb his way to the top of the list."

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HOUSTON -- Powerful right-hander Josh James, ranked as the Astros' No. 6 prospect by MLB Pipeline, will make his Major League debut with a start against the Angels on Saturday night, manager AJ Hinch confirmed on Friday.

"He's just performed his way to the big leagues," Hinch said. "He's punching out everybody in the Minors. The next test for him is going to be at this level. He's conquered everything else. He's the best available, and has outperformed a lot of pitchers along the way to climb his way to the top of the list."

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James is taking Charlie Morton's turn in the rotation. Morton, who was placed on the 10-day disabled list earlier this week with right shoulder discomfort, is expected to miss just one start. Because Saturday is when Major League rosters can expand from 25 to 40, the Astros will not have to make a corresponding move.

The 25-year-old James was a 34th-round pick in the 2014 MLB Draft out of Western Oklahoma State College. Over parts of five seasons in the Astros' system, James has steadily increased his velocity as he worked his way up through the ranks.

"He's another success story, a lower-round Draft pick," Hinch said. "Development has done wonders with him, and he has done wonders for himself to get this opportunity."

In 114 1/3 innings this season with Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Fresno, James is 6-4 with a 3.23 ERA -- with 171 strikeouts and only 79 hits allowed.

"I'm excited to meet him," Hinch said. "I've never met him. I've never seen him in person. But our people to a man will tell you that stuff is real. It's high-end stuff, and he's performed his way to this opportunity. His stuff is creeping up to where he's now in the mid to upper 90s."

According to Hinch, other Astros to be activated as part of Saturday's roster expansion include catcher Brian McCann and outfielder Jake Marisnick. Each is currently on the 10-day DL. Meanwhile, left-handed reliever and No. 4 prospect Cionel Perez will be recalled from Fresno.

McCann got to know James earlier this month, as part of the veteran catcher's Minor League rehab assignment following knee surgery in July. As a result, Hinch plans to start McCann behind the plate for James' debut on Saturday.

"McCann actually caught him on his rehab stint, so there's going to be some familiarity tomorrow," Hinch said.

Hinch confident in Correa
Shortstop Carlos Correa remained in the cleanup spot in the Astros' lineup on Friday night vs. the Angels, despite an uncharacteristic cold stretch in August.

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Since being activated on Aug. 10 after missing nearly six weeks with a lower back injury, Correa entered Friday hitting just .162 with one home run in 77 plate appearances. However, Hinch said he isn't planning to take any drastic measures with the former All-Star, such as moving him down in the lineup.

"He can work through this," Hinch said of Correa. "Every hitter has done it. I think talent wins in the end. If I need to tweak a thing or two or give him a day off, I will. But rushing to that ... might change the function of our team, and it may not change it for the better. I don't know that that's necessarily the answer."

Hinch said he wasn't aware of any lingering physical issues with Correa, adding that he's confident the slump is poised to end.

"Carlos is relentless in his work, and in the fundamentals of hitting," Hinch said. "The hits are coming. They're going to come in bunches. He's certainly somebody that we're going to rely on down the stretch to put up some numbers."

Ben DuBose is a contributor to MLB.com based in Houston.

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