The Astros got a win over the Mariners on Tuesday to improve to 6-14 on the season, but they announced afterwards that center fielder Justin Maxwell suffered a fractured hand in the game.
Maxwell was injured on a bases-loaded HBP in the third. It scored the Astros’ third and final run of the game in the 3-2 victory.
The 29-year-old Maxwell had started all 20 games in center field for the Astros this season, hitting .234 with one homer and six RBI. A long history of injuries stalled his development throughout his 20s, but he has found a home in Houston, hitting 19 homers in 392 at-bats since being picked up from the Yankees last year.
With Maxwell sidelined, probably for at least a month, the Astros figure to go to Brandon Barnes and maybe Rick Ankiel in center. Barnes has been a nice surprise dating back to spring training, and is 9-for-26 with a homer off the bench this year. Robbie Grossman was called up to help out.
Maxwell, for what it’s worth, is taking it well:
The Atlanta Braves selected high school pitcher Carter Stewart with the number eight overall pick in the 2018 draft. Then, after the draft, they gave Stewart a below-slot signing bonus offer, claiming that they found problems with his wrist in his post-draft physical. Stewart ended up rejecting the offer and the MLBPA filed a grievance against the Braves on Stewart’s behalf.
The grievance sought to make Stewart a free agent it was considered a long shot at the time of its filing and, in fact, the grievance was rejected. Stewart, unable to attain free agency, enrolled at Eastern Florida State College, a two-year school that would’ve made him eligible for the 2019 draft.
Now, Ken Rosenthal reports, Stewart has pulled a crazy Ivan and is heading to Japan, having signed with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League. The terms of the deal aren’t known, but Rosenthal says Stewart was looking for a $7 million guarantee.
It’s a fascinating turn of events for Stewart who, this time last year, was considered perhaps the best amateur pitcher in baseball. Being lowballed and having his health questioned by the Braves may have been a wakeup call to Stewart, however, about his chances of finding a quick path the bigs in the U.S. If the shine did come off of his prospect status in the past year here, there’s every reason to believe that $7 million and a path to the bigs in Japan is a much better deal than several million less and a path to the bigs in America.
He’ll be worth watching over the next few years, that’s for sure. Both for his own sake and to see if, in this era of Major League Baseball’s capping of amateur bonuses and teams’ habit of manipulating service time, going overseas becomes more attractive to American high schoolers and college players.