Astros set to call up PCL MVP Duffy
ANAHEIM -- Infielder Matt Duffy, who was named the Pacific Coast League's Player of the Year for 2015, will join the Astros on Monday in Arlington for the series opener against the Rangers, manager A.J. Hinch said before Sunday's finale against the Angels. The Astros will purchase his contract and make a corresponding 40-man roster move.
Duffy, a right-handed-hitting first baseman/third baseman, was hitting .294 with 20 homers and 104 RBIs for Triple-A Fresno, which advanced to the PCL championship on Saturday.
"We feel like he can help us and certainly brings an added benefit to our team, otherwise we wouldn't do it," Hinch said.
Selected in the 20th round out of the University of Tennessee in 2011, Duffy is the third PCL player to reach 100 RBIs since 2012. He leads the Grizzlies in hits (144), doubles (29) and total bases and is second in home runs and batting average.
"We were around him the whole spring, and [Fresno manager] Tony [DeFrancesco] speaks highly of his preparation," Hinch said. "We have those positions [first and third] covered. He might be just a bat off the bench initially. Who knows? Never say never. Sometimes you get sparks. Guys get up here and get their first taste of the big leagues and we can get him in there and he might earn more playing time."
Duffy, 26, started 74 games at third base, 29 at first base and 23 at designated hitter this year for the Grizzlies. Jed Lowrie has been holding down third base for the Astros, and Marwin Gonzalez has been splitting time at first with Luis Valbuena.
"I'm not sure quite how it's going to map out," Hinch said. "He's earned every opportunity that's come his way. He's very versatile playing first or third and certainly can handle left-handed pitching [.318 batting average], which brings some intrigue. I'm not quite sure how I'm going to map out his initial time and like anything, I'll tell him he can earn more opportunity if he gets in there and does well, especially in the heated games that are coming ahead."
Hinch said the Astros may "trickle in another guy or two" from Fresno in the coming days.
"I'm proud of those guys," Hinch said. "They won a big series. They get to play for a championship in Triple-A. It really looks like their team is functioning well. I'm sure they'll backfill since [Double-A] Corpus [Christi] got eliminated. It'll be nice to reward the PCL MVP with a call up for the first time."
• Astros catcher Jason Castro (strained quad) is eligible to come off the disabled list but may still need another day or two. Hinch said Castro needs to show he has good lateral movement without any sense of hesitation, and Castro said he needs to run at full speed.