With the top pick in the Rule 5 draft the Astros snagged right-hander Josh Fields from the Red Sox.
Fields was the Mariners’ first-round pick in 2008, going 20th overall out of the University of Georgia, but never reached the majors and is now 27 years old.
He’s always had very good strikeout numbers, but walked 5.9, 5.7, and 6.7 batters per nine innings in his first three pro seasons. That all changed this year, as Fields cut his walk rate to 2.8 per nine innings while posting a 2.01 ERA with 78 strikeouts in 58 innings between Double-A and Triple-A for the Red Sox.
Boston got Fields in the Erik Bedard trade and chose not to protect him, so the Astros will gladly add his mid-90s fastball to their bullpen mix and hope the improved control is for real.
Pablo Sandoval could be tabbed to play second base in the near future, per a report from John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. According to Shea, Sandoval has been spotted taking grounders at second during pre-game warm-ups and may be considering switching to the keystone on a part-time basis.
It wouldn’t be the weirdest thing the 31-year-old corner infielder has done this year — that distinction goes to the flawless inning of relief he pitched in a blowout loss against the Dodgers last month. But it would represent a pretty notable departure from his comfort zone even so; Sandoval has primarily manned first and third base throughout his 11-year career in the majors and has also taken a few reps at DH during his resurgence with the Giants in 2018.
Of course, this wouldn’t necessarily be a permanent switch for Sandoval. As Shea points out, the Giants are thin on middle infielders after losing Joe Panik to a torn UCL in his left thumb and backup Alen Hanson to a left hamstring strain. Provided he can get up to speed quickly (no easy feat, according to infield coach Ron Wotus), he’d give the club some added depth behind Kelby Tomlinson and Miguel Gomez until Panik is ready to take the field again. Sandoval has impressed at the plate this spring, batting a healthy .270/.329/.429 with six extra-base hits and a .757 through 70 plate appearances.