Hinch monitoring Triple-A for possible additions

May 15th, 2016

BOSTON -- With so many players in the Astros' starting lineup struggling -- the bottom four in the order entered Sunday hitting .214 or below, including three sub-.200 averages -- Astros manager A.J. Hinch said the team is keeping tabs on what's happening at Triple-A Fresno.

Outfielder/infielder Tony Kemp was hitting .299 with a .410 on-base percentage for the Grizzlies, and third baseman Colin Moran was hitting .281 with a .321 on-base percentage, two homers and 21 RBIs. The Astros' production at third base has been the poorest in baseball, so Moran could be an option.

Kemp has split his starts between second base and the outfield, getting equal time in left field and center field. Kemp is a versatile left-handed bat who's a tough out and makes contact, but he doesn't hit for power.

"He didn't have a great camp for us, but he's had a successful track record in the Minor Leagues," Hinch said. "We'll see if he becomes a factor moving forward."

Veteran infielder Danny Worth, who was a non-roster invite to Major League camp, entered Sunday hitting .362 with a .448 on-base percentage, five homers and 19 RBIs while splitting between second base and shortstop, both of which are positions of strength on the big league club with Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve.

A.J. Reed, the top first-base prospect in baseball, is on the disabled list and should return soon.

None of those players are on the 40-man roster, which creates some challenges.

"We do have some options," Hinch said. "The difficulty becomes getting them on the roster and getting them up to the big leagues. We're taking note of everything that's gone on below and staying as patient as we can. We're in mid-May. We're six weeks into the season. We'd like to see progress, we'd like to see a spark, but for every guy you add you're taking a guy out of the lineup or you're not able to play the guys who maybe have a longer track record of success at this level.

"We're not going to stay idle the whole time. Changes are always in the back of our mind, but we feel like our best team is here for now and we'd like to see these guys get kick-started and begin to help us win."

The depth of the Astros' 40-man roster has grown stronger in the last few years, so putting one player on and taking another player off -- which exposes him to waivers -- can create some dilemmas.

"It's always interesting to look at an organization's strength in players 35-40 on a 40-man," Hinch said. "Ours is pretty strong. For my perspective, we're always going to want to put the best team on the field here in the big leagues.

"[General manager] Jeff [Luhnow] has always worked to make good decisions and you have to choose players sometimes. It's a tough call when players 35-40 are strong and you feel like you have Major League-caliber players on those 40-man roster spots, but that's an organizational decision that will have to play out over the next few weeks all the way until the end of the season."