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Astros option M. Gonzalez, designate LeBlanc

Astros option M. Gonzalez, designate LeBlanc

Astros option M. Gonzalez, designate LeBlanc

The Astros optioned struggling middle infielder Marwin Gonzalez to Triple-A Oklahoma City and designated veteran reliever Wade LeBlanc for assignment on Monday. Corresponding roster moves will be made Tuesday before Houston hosts St. Louis.

By optioning Gonzalez, who got out to a roaring start in April before struggling to hit above .200 in May and June, the Astros could be making room for shortstop prospect Jonathan Villar.

Villar, 22, is the club's 12th-ranked prospect, who carries a cannon of an arm with good power and speed. He's hitting .271 with a .328 on-base percentage, 12 doubles, five triples and seven homers at Triple-A. He's also swiped 25 bags in 32 attempts.

Another option could be 26-year-old shortstop Jake Elmore, who is hitting .297 with a .382 on-base percentage in Triple-A.

The Astros could certainly use help at shortstop. Houston shortstops have posted a .259 on-base percentage this year, 26th in the Majors.

LeBlanc was picked up on waivers from the Marlins and made three appearances with the Astros, his last a devastating one. The 28-year-old lefty allowed four runs in 1 2/3 innings of Sunday's 14-6 loss to the Cubs.

The Astros have 39 players on their 40-man roster.

Jason Mastrodonato is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @jmastrodonato. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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