The Astros have loads of catching depth in the likes of Roberto Pena, Max Stassi, Tyler Heineman, Jacob Nottingham and Rene Garcia, so on Wednesday they plucked from that with Carlos Perez and paired him with righthanded starter Nick Tropeano and sent them to the Angels for catcher Hank Conger.
Though the Astros and scouts provided solid reports on Perez’s defense, Conger is appealing because of his ability to frame pitches.
“We had asked the Angels about Conger … going back last summer,” general manager Jeff Luhnow told Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle.
Conger, 26, slashed .221/.293/.325. He’s entering his first year of arbitration and is projected to make $1.1 million next season.
Perez, 24, played this past season at Triple-A Oklahoma City, while Tropeano, 24, made four starts in the bigs after spending most of the season at Triple-A. The move opens up a 40-man roster spot for the Astros, as they dealt away two 40-man roster players and brought one back. That’s valuable at a time when the Astros are going to be hard pressed to protect everyone they want to keep out of next month’s Rule 5 draft.
Nick Tropeano, rhp
Tropeano had a solid season in Triple-A, lowering his walk rate and keeping his strikeout rate in line with his career numbers, and that resulted in a promotion to the majors, where he made four representative starts. He profiles as a back-end starter despite a fringy fastball because of his innate deception. The fastball sits at 90-92 mph, touching 93. The changeup is the separator, "his bread and butter," a team official said. It's a plus pitch that he'll throw at any time in the count to righthanders and lefthanders. The slider is a fringy offering that he struggles to stay on top of. The delivery's "not the prettiest," one evaluator said, as the righthander jerks his body to the right after making a pitch. While there is effort to his delivery, he’s had little trouble throwing strikes so far, so he has a chance to stick as a starter.
|Oklahoma City (PCL)||AAA||9||5||3.03||23||20||125||90||44||42||11||33||120||.202|
Carlos Perez, c
Perez, part of a large and talented but flawed catching cadre in Houston, is similar to now-former organization mate Roberto Pena. He’s an above-average defender, but the question is whether he’ll hit enough to see the field. Scouts believe if he can hit .240-.250, he can be a capable major league backup, which has incredible value given his defense skills. Perez was added to the 40-man roster by the Astros just before the trade. Last year, he was left off the 40-man roster and was eligible for the Rule 5 draft but was not picked.
|Oklahoma City (PCL)||AAA||.258||87||299||33||77||16||2||6||34||28||53||3||.320||.385|
Hank Conger, c
Conger shared the catching job with the Angels with Chris Iannetta, slashing .221/.293/.325 with four homers. But the Astros weren’t after his bat. Although he caught only 24 percent of runners attempting to steal, Conger was one of the four best catchers in terms of pitch-framing in 2014, ranking behind only Jonathan Lucroy, Mike Zunino and Russell Martin according to stats at StatCorner. With Houston’s young staff, his work behind the plate will be invaluable and he’s just two years older than Perez.
|Los Angeles (AL)||MAJ||.221||80||231||24||51||12||0||4||25||22||57||0||.293||.325|