Keppinger To Astros

The Deal

The return of Alex Gonzalez after a year missed to injury meant that the Reds no longer had room in their infield for Jeff Keppinger. The Astros did, so they swung a trade for him at the end of spring training, sending a player to be named to the Reds.

UPDATE: The Astros traded second baseman Drew Sutton to the Reds to complete the deal for Keppinger (April 16).

The Young Player
Sutton, 25, ranked as the Astros’ No. 8 prospect entering the season and did so on the strength of a breakout 2008 at Double-A Corpus Christi and a fine showing in the Arizona Fall League. In a second tour through the Texas League last year, Sutton batted .317/.408/.523 with 20 home runs, 39 doubles and 69 RBIs—he also led the circuit in hits, doubles and runs—and earned a place on the 40-man roster last November. Sutton credited Jaime Cevallos, a former golf pro, for helping his swing ahead of the 2008 season. He’s a switch-hitting middle infielder with nice on-base ability, but he probably is better suited to second base than shortstop. At times, he manned center in the AFL. Hitting in the higher levels is the biggest question when it comes to Sutton, whom the Astros selected from Baylor in the 15th round of the 2004 draft.

Quick Take
An incredible contact hitter, Keppinger has struck out in just 5.5 percent of his 891 big league at-bats. As such, the righthanded batter boasts a singles-heavy career line of .290/.341/.400. Though he lacks classic shortstop actions, Keppinger, 29, filled in admirably at the position during the 2007 and 2008 seasons with the Reds. He’s better suited to second or third base, though, where he figures to see the most time with the Astros.

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