Houston Astros: Why Myles Straw could be in play for the final bench spot

Myles Straw of the Houston Astros (Photo by Loren Elliott/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Myles Straw of the Houston Astros (Photo by Loren Elliott/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

The Houston Astros competition for their final bench spot is widely considered to be between Tony Kemp and Jake Marisnick. Here’s why Myles Straw could be a dark horse for the spot.

The Houston Astros followed their 2017 World Series championship with the best regular season in franchise history. The team won 103 games while only losing 59. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to repeat as champs or even make the World Series.

So, the team entered the offseason while some potential changes needing to be made. They had several key players entering free agency including Charlie Morton, Dallas Keuchel, and Marwin Gonzalez. Tough decisions had to be made and at least two and probably all three aren’t going to be on the team next year.

The Astros went out and added several players to help mitigate the loss of those three guys and several others. Aledmys Diaz will attempt to help replace MarGo’s versatility. Robinson Chirinos will hope to lock down the catcher position. Wade Miley helps solidify the rotation. And, finally, Michael Brantley gives the Houston Astros their best left fielder they’ve had in a while.

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The rest of the Houston Astros‘ roster is largely the same. George Springer will roam center field while Josh Reddick takes up residence in right field. The infield is just as good with Alex Bregman handling the hot corner, Carlos Correa manning short, Jose Altuve captaining the team at second, and Yuli Gurriel anchoring the infield at first.

Behind all of those guys, the team will have Diaz in that versatile utility role, Tyler White at DH and backing up several positions, and Max Stassi platooning catcher with Chirinos. That, likely, leaves one spot left for a position player to fill as the Houston Astros typically like to carry 12 position players and 13 pitchers.

It’s widely expected that this final battle will come down to Tony Kemp and Jake Marisnick. Kemp is a solid defender that is very good in the batter’s box. He has the ability to draw walks and hit to all fields. Marisnick is the best defender on the team but struggles at the plate. Both players have also either exhausted all of their minor league options or are days away from doing so.

However, another player reminded us on Sunday that this battle may not be as simple and cut-and-dry as it was once thought. Myles Straw showed up in a major way against the Mets on Sunday with a highlight reel catcher that robbed Tim Tebow of an RBI double.

Straw hasn’t really been considered a viable option for this final bench role that should go to an outfielder but maybe it’s time he should be. He wasn’t a top prospect and never truly shone in the minor leagues. But, he earned a September call-up and made the playoff roster in the role of a pinch runner.

Straw has some very good traits that very well make him a contender for that final spot. The first one that truly jumps off of the page, tv, field, and whatever else is his speed. Straw has wheels. He is in the 98th percentile, or top 2% of all professional baseball players when it comes to speed which topped out at 29.7 feet per second last year. That’s absolutely moving, people.

His speed also parlays itself into his defense as well, as you can see in the video above. Straw is a very good defender with tremendous range and a very good glove. He has a very good arm that can play at any of the outfield spots. Plus, Straw is working on some versatility as well, getting some time at short.

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In between AA and AAA last year, Straw hit a combined .291 though he was much better at AA than he was at AAA. There is some concern how this will translate to the majors but his opposite-field approach that nets a lot of singles could play very well for him with his speed.

Putting Straw on first base, whether it’s through a single, walk, hit by pitch, or pinch runner situation almost guarantees you a runner on a second. Straw had 70 stolen bases in the minors last season and had 2 in just 9 games in the regular season. He also had 1 in the ALDS.

Straw has the tools to be an excellent fourth outfielder. If the Houston Astros feel they can get some value off of one or both of Kemp and Marisnick in the trade market, Straw could fill the role easily. His speed and defense make him a tremendous asset. His play on Sunday reminds us of that and could have been a sign of what’s to come in the future.

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Do you think Myles Straw could be a viable option for the Houston Astros for their fourth outfielder? Could he be better than Tony Kemp and Jake Marisnick? Drop your thoughts below!