Astros’ Justin Dirden Tests New Body At Big League Camp

At the end of his breakout season, Justin Dirden felt fatigued.

The 25-year-old outfielder hit everything in sight at Double-A Corpus Christi, slashing .324/.411/.616 with 20 home runs in 93 games. But he faded upon arrival at Triple-A Sugar Land, finishing his season 21-for-101 and somewhat sullying an otherwise superb offensive season.

Dirden did not play much college baseball. A hand injury limited him to two games in 2019 at Southeast Missouri State. A season later, the pandemic cut his season to 17 games.

By the time Dirden signed with the Astros as an undrafted free agent in 2020, he had just 78 games across four collegiate seasons.

His downturn in Triple-A arrived around his 99th game. Dirden did not have the stamina to withstand a full minor league season. The Astros sought to fix it this winter.

They summoned their fast-rising outfielder to a three-week strength and conditioning camp at their spring training facility in West Palm Beach, Fla.

“When you look at his game, there’s not really a glaring weakness,” Astros field coordinator Jason Bell said. “And if you just look at him overall, there’s some strength, but there’s a little bit more you can put on where we didn’t feel like we were going to be losing speed in the outfield or on the bases.”

Dirden arrived at the camp weighing 210 pounds. He exited at 222. He earned an invitation to big league camp to test his new body. Early results were promising.

Dirden smacked home runs in two of his first three Grapefruit League at-bats. In the only game he did not homer, Dirden made a diving catch in left field to steal a hit.

The display continued Dirden’s swift ascent. He is perhaps their most major league-ready outfield prospect and, presuming health, could be called up this season.

Earlier in spring, Astros manager Dusty Baker said he believes Dirden can “put pressure” on a major league roster that appears pretty entrenched.

The Astros view Dirden as having an above-average arm with enough speed to handle center field, though he profiles better in a corner.

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