Astros remain intrigued by Rule 5 picks

Astros remain intrigued by Rule 5 picks

Astros remain intrigued by Rule 5 picks
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- With less than a week remaining before the start of the regular season, both of the Astros' Rule 5 Draft picks are still with the club and appear to have a shot to make the team. The Astros must keep them on the 25-roster all year or risk losing them.

Hard-throwing reliever Rhiner Cruz, selected from the Mets' roster with the first overall pick in the Rule 5 Draft last December, has a 1.29 ERA in his last six appearances after posting a 33.75 ERA in his first three outings with the club. Shortstop Marwin Gonzalez entered Saturday hitting .184, but his defense has been impressive.

Gonzalez split the 2011 season between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa, hitting a combined .288 in 124 games, with four home runs and 39 RBIs. He was acquired from the Red Sox, who took him in the Rule 5 Draft from the Cubs.

Gonzalez's chances to make the club will increase if starting shortstop Jed Lowrie isn't healthy to start the year.

"They are both very much in the mix right now," general manager Jeff Luhnow said. "We're in an advantageous position right now. I've been on other clubs where you maybe have the scouting department or the pro scouts or the general manager who wants the Rule 5 guys, and the coaching staff doesn't want the Rule 5 guys, because they feel they have veterans who can a better job.

"We're not really in that situation here. One of the things I really like about our camp with [manager Brad Mills] and the staff and myself is when we talk about who should be on the team and who shouldn't, there's not a lot of disagreement."

That being said, Luhnow plans to evaluate both Rule 5 picks for as long as possible.

"Marwin is one of the better defensive players I've seen all spring, and Cruz throws 97 [mph] with a nasty slider," he said. "Those are assets that appear to be pretty close to Major League ready."