Astros reassign Whitley, Tucker to Minors

Martin, Bukauskas also head down; Mets send Gimenez, Tebow

Forrest Whitley notched an 0.88 WHIP in eight innings this spring. (Jeff Roberson/AP)

By Kelsie Heneghan / MiLB.com | March 12, 2019 8:16 PM

Big league camp is losing several more Top-100 prospects. The Astros reassigned Forrest Whitley, Kyle Tucker, Corbin Martin and J.B. Bukauskas, along with three others, to Minor League camp Tuesday.

Whitley went 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA, 11 strikeouts and two walks over eight innings in three appearances. In his first Grapefruit League campaign, MLB.com's top overall pitching prospect struck out six-time All-Star Paul Goldschmidt twice as he stretched to three innings in each of his final two outings.

With a 50-game suspension and a lat injury, Whitley was limited to 26 1/3 innings in 2018. The 21-year-old right-hander went 0-2 with a 3.76 ERA, 34 strikeouts and 11 walks in eight starts for Double-A Corpus Christi. He then took his 70-grade fastball and four-pitch mix to the Arizona Fall League, where he was selected to the Fall Stars Game.

According to Jake Kaplan of The Athletic, Whitley will pitch for Houston in one of its split-squad games Friday.

Tucker's spring campaign hit a tough stretch in the middle in which he went 0-for-9 across five games. In total, The No. 8 overall prospect hit .280/.357/.400 with three doubles, six RBIs and six runs scored in 13 games (25 at-bats).

Last year proved to be Tucker's best season yet. The 22-year-old outfielder hit a career-high .332 with 24 homers and a personal-best 93 RBIs. He also swiped 20 bases in 24 attempts. Tucker made his Major League debut on July 7 and spent the rest of the season bouncing between Houston and Triple-A Fresno. In the American League, the 2015 first-rounder batted .141 (9-for-64) with three extra-base hits, four RBIs and six walks over 28 games.

After climbing to Double-A in his first full season, Martin improved as he got comfortable in the Grapefruit League. Baseball's No. 81 overall prospect notched a 2.70 ERA with four punchouts and two walks in 6 2/3 innings over three appearances. Martin earned a save after tossing two scoreless frames in his final game.

Bukauskas was stingy in four spring appearances. The No. 97 overall prospect went 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA, eight strikeouts and five walks in seven frames. Bukauskas, who features a four-pitch arsenal, was limited to 59 innings in 2018 due to a car accident during Spring Training.

The Astros also reassigned right-hander Brandon Bielak (No. 15), right-hander Rogelio Armenteros (No. 25) and shortstop Alex De Goti.

Reds reassign Trammell

Cincinnati's No. 2 prospect Taylor Trammell headlined prospects reassigned to Minor League camp in Goodyear, Arizona.

Trammell, the No. 16 overall prospect and MVP of the 2018 Futures Game, appeared in nine games this spring, finishing 3-for-15 with four walks for a .368 OBP.

Despite a quiet spring, the 21-year-old outfielder departed big league camp with his health intact. Trammell dealt with an ankle injury for much of last season, though he posted a .277 average and stole 25 bases at Class A Advanced Daytona. His speed has been one of his of his strongest tools since the Reds selected him with the 35th pick in the 2016 Draft, and it's could help garner him a spot roaming center field of Great American Ballpark someday.

The Reds also reassigned outfielders TJ Friedl -- the club's 13th-ranked prospect -- Aristides Aquino, Brian O'Grady, Mason Williams, Jordan Patterson and Kyle Wren, catchers Tyler Stephenson (No. 6) and Chris Okey (No. 30), infielder Alfredo Rodriguez (No. 29) and right-handers Tony Santillan (No. 5) and Odrisamer Despaigne.

Mets reassign Gimenez, Tebow

New York reassigned Andres Gimenez, its No. 2 prospect, along with Tim Tebow and six other players to Minor League camp.

Gimenez started the campaign by going 1-for-10 with two walks in his first six games. In his last three games, the No. 58 overall prospect went 3-for-6 with a homer and a double. Making a couple starts, Gimenez spent most of spring of as a defensive replacement at short or as a pinch-hitter.

A strong shortstop with a plus hit tool, Gimenez climbed from Class A Advanced St. Lucie to Double-A Binghamton as a teenager, getting an All-Star Futures Game selection along the way. Before turning 20 in September, the left-handed hitter posted a .281/.347/.409 line with 38 stolen bases in 52 attempts.

Tebow also shook off a slow start in which he went 0-for-6 in three games before going 4-for-9 in his last five contests. The 31-year-old added a walk and an RBI. Tebow spent seven of his eight games in left field, taking one half day off.

In his second pro campaign, Tebow was an Eastern League All-Star for Binghamton, hitting .273/.336/.399 with six homers and 36 RBIs in 84 games before a broken hand sidelined him on July 21. The 2007 Heisman Trophy winner is slated to start 2019 with Triple-A Syracuse, putting him one call from The Show.

"I see myself trying to get better every day," Tebow told MLB.com when asked about the possibility of playing in MLB this season. "If I get that opportunity, it will be a blessing. Either way, I'm going to continue to work as hard as I can to be the best that I can. If one day it's good enough to do that, then that would be really fun."

The Mets also reassigned No. 30 prospect Ali Sanchez, infielder Dilson Herrera, outfielder Rymer Liriano and right-handers Paul Sewald, Jacob Rhame and Arquimedes Caminero.

D-backs reassign Chisholm, Duplantier

Arizona's top three prospects were part of the cuts made in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Shortstop Jazz Chisholm, the D-backs' top prospect, was sent to Minor League camp, along with right-handers Jon Duplantier (No. 2) and Taylor Widener (No. 3) and several other prospects.

Chisholm, in his first big league camp, went 3-for-14 with four walks en route to a .389 on-base percentage. Duplantier, in his only spring appearance, walked one and struck out two in two hitless innings on Feb. 25. Widener didn't allow a run in four innings across two outings.

Despite the fact that the D-backs' top trio didn't make any significant noise this spring, they've given Arizona an excitement about the farm system. Chisholm, the 60th overall prospect, hit 25 home runs in 2018 to lead all Minor League shortstops. The 21-year-old's .966 OPS in 26 games with Class A Advanced Visalia bodes well for him to get a crack at the upper levels of the system in 2019.

Duplantier, when healthy, is one of the game's most enticing pitching prospects. He lasted only one inning in his pro debut in 2016, missed the rest of the season, and then returned the next year to top all Minor League hurlers with a 1.39 ERA in 136 innings. And Widener, in his second full season and first in the D-backs organization, led the Double-A Southern League in strikeouts (176) and WHIP (1.03) in 2018 after being traded from the Yankees in February.

Arizona sent 14 players down in all. Right-handers Ryan Atkinson and Kevin Ginkel (No. 30), infielders Wyatt Mathisen and Andy Young (No. 11) and catcher Daulton Varsho (No. 4) were all assigned to Minor League camp. Right-handers Taylor Clarke (No. 10) and Joel Payamps, along with infielders Kevin Cron and Domingo Leyba (No. 26), were optioned to Triple-A Reno, while righties Bo Takahashi and Emilio Vargas (No. 16) landed with Double-A Jackson.

Red Sox option Chavis

Boston sent its top prospect, Michael Chavis, to Triple-A camp, along with No. 17 prospect Travis Lakins.

Offseason MiLB include

Chavis showcased his plus power from the start this spring, homering in his first game. The No. 79 overall prospect batted .273/.333/.818 with four long balls, 10 RBIs and six runs in 22 at-bats over 11 games. After adding first base to his repertoire in 2018, Chavis moved around the infield this spring with five games at third and four at first. He also tried his glove at second for the first time in his pro career.

After an 80-game suspension for a positive PED test delayed his 2018 campaign, Chavis hit .298/.381/.538 with nine homers and 27 RBIs in 46 games between Class A Short Season Lowell, Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket.

The Red Sox sent No. 19 prospect Denyi Reyes to Double-A camp while reassigning Mike Shawaryn (No. 13) and Josh Ockimey (No. 25) to Minor League camp.

Kelsie Heneghan is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kelsie_Heneghan. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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