The Houston Astros had a few prospects playing in the Caribbean winter leagues but there were also quite a lot of players with major league experience getting some reps in.
After a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League, the Astros had Mexican first baseman Japhet Amador head back home and play in the Mexican Winter League, hitting only .209/.273/.333 with seven doubles and three home runs in 129 at bats. The 6’4″, 305 lb, 27 year old hit 36 home runs (good for second in the league) in the Mexican summer league in 2013 before signing with the Astros and playing 10 games with their Triple-A affiliate. Amador has cause to celebrate despite the weak numbers as he has been invited to major league spring training.
Speedy outfielder Adron Chambers went down to Puerto Rico this winter after his third season with some time in the majors. Hitting .252/.338/.387 in Triple-A Memphis, Chambers signed a minor league deal with the Astros in November and hit .317/.417/.415 in 41 Puerto Rican at bats.
Major league veteran catcher Carlos Corporan, 30, kept in shape a little bit at home in Puerto Rico, hitting just .139/.225/.139 in 36 at bats. He saw the most action in his big league career in 2013, playing in 64 games and hitting .225/.287/.361 with seven home runs in 210 plate appearances for the Astros.
Another catcher, 23-year-old Rene Garcia, played in 23 games in his native Puerto Rico and fared better than Corporan, hitting .254/.308/.288 with just two doubles for extra-base hits. He split the season between Corpus Christi and Oklahoma City with a .293/.336/.394 line that included five home runs and threw out 46% of base stealers.
24-year-old Marwin Gonzalez went home to Venezuela to play in the winter league a little bit, hitting .297/.404/.297 in 74 at bats. In his second year split between the majors and minors, the shortstop hit .221/.252/.319 at the major league level.
Another ML vet, Jesus Guzman, 29, had a big season in his native Venezuela, hitting .313/.435/.536 with seven doubles and six home runs in 112 at bats following a somewhat sub-par 2013 season with the San Diego Padres. He was traded to Houston in December and hopes to improve on his 92 wRC+ season with his fifth big league organization.
23-year-old outfielder Leonardo Heras is another player that the Astros signed out of the Mexican League in 2013. He hit a solid .266/.356/.362 in the Mexican Winter League after a .310/.398/.519 line in the summer league. He played 10 games in Corpus Christi but struggled to hit there.
Enrique Hernandez, a 22-year-old second baseman played at home in Puerto Rico this winter and put up some solid numbers with a .260/.321/.393 line. He played for Double-A Corpus Christi this summer, hitting 13 home runs (by far, a career high) but didn’t get on base enough (just a .297 OBP).
After a season in Class-A Quad Cities in the Midwest League, outfielder Teoscar Hernandez, 21, went home in the Dominican Republic and struggled there as a part-time player, getting just 33 at bats in 23 games.
Outfielder J.D. Martinez, who has played parts of three season in the major leagues, played in Venezuela, hitting .312/.387/.570 with six doubles and six home runs in 93 at bats. The 26 year old has yet to match his success as a rookie in 2011 and had his worst big league season in 2013 with a .650 OPS.
Catcher Carlos Perez, 23, who spent the season split between Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Oklahoma City, played in 20 games in Venezuela, hitting .271/.286/.373. Acquired from the Blue Jays in 2012 when he was part of the deal that sent J.A. Happ to Toronto, Perez was left off the 40-man roster and his future is up in the air despite an invitation to big league spring training.
Shortstop Gregorio Petit, 29, was signed to a free agent contract this offseason and played at home in Venezuela where he hit .312/.351/.584 with 12 doubles and 10 home runs in just 154 at bats. Petit played in Triple-A Tuscon for the Padres’ organization last season and had a good year with the bat, putting up a .724 OPS.
Power-hitting outfield prospect Domingo Santana only got into 17 games in the Dominican but he hit 25 home runs in the Texas League this season. He added 19 strikeouts and just four walks in 45 at bats in the winter league, showing a greater need for plate discipline.
Californian Joe Sclafani, 23 has been playing in the Australian Baseball League this winter, hitting .247/.327/.340 in 150 at bats after a solid season split between Class-A Quad Cities and High-A Lancaster.
22-year-old first baseman Jonathan Singleton, who played at three levels in the minors in 2013, went down to Puerto Rico and got himself another 123 at bats with a .268/.396/.537 line with six doubles and nine home runs following a season that him struggle to make contact a bit in the minors.
Shortstop Jonathan Villar, who made his major league debut in 2013 at the age of 22, played 22 games in his native Dominican Republic over the winter, hitting .264/.365/.389 with five doubles, two triples and eight stolen bases. He swiped 18 in the bigs while hitting .243/.321/.319 for the Astros.