ST. PETERSBURG -- Top pitching prospect Jarred Cosart made his debut against the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday and earned the victory after going eight-plus innings and giving up just two hits and no earned runs.
His reward for such an impressive debut was a return ticket back to Triple-A Oklahoma City, getting optioned back to the Minors until at least through the All-Star break. However, the 23-year-old may want to pack lightly, as his audition at Tropicana Field should get him back to the Majors in a short time.
"We are going to stick to the plan," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "He will be optioned and Justin Maxwell will be activated and available for Saturday's game.
"We have the All-Star break next week, and after the break we, as an organization, will reconvene and figure out who our five starters will be going forward."
It would be hard to imagine the Astros choosing not to include Cosart in the rotation after the break after his impressive debut Friday night. Rays manager Joe Maddon saw all he needed to see as his team had its eight-game win streak snapped.
"The kid tonight -- he had good stuff," Maddon said. "He actually had a reputation of walking people, but he wasn't doing that tonight. He was on the plate and his ball was cutting a lot. He was hitting corners and then he got confidence in the curveball, which took you off the fastball a little bit. He pitched really well."
Porter said his plan was to make Cosart's first start as relaxing as possible. He didn't want to saddle his starter with any kind of limit on pitches or innings.
After the game, he said that he expects Cosart to continue to improve and help the Astros out for a long time. He was quick not to compare him to Stephen Strasburg, Matt Harvey or any other of the young, successful starters in the Majors.
"I think Jarred Cosart will have the opportunity to establish who Jarred Cosart is, and I want to give him that opportunity. I think he has the stuff to be one of the elite pitchers in the league and over time he'll answer all the questions we have with his performance."
Cosart was aware of the plan to return to Oklahoma City, but he made it clear he hopes to be back in an Astros uniform soon.
"I intend on pitching for this organization for a long time," Cosart added. "Hopefully when I get back up here the team will have run off a nice winning streak, and we'll see how the atmosphere is around the ballclub and in the city."
Porter was not surprised that Cosart wanted to extend his stay with the Major League club. He expects Cosart to want to extend his stay with the Astros for as long as possible.
"Like I said earlier, if he was content to just go back to Triple-A, well, then we'd have a bigger problem," Porter said.
Corey Long is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.