Jandel Gustave In the Mix For Big League Bullpen

HOUSTON—Astros righthanded reliever Jandel Gustave experienced his first taste of the big leagues late last season, when he was summoned from Triple-A Fresno for a few appearances in August and again in September when rosters expanded.

Coming into spring training this year, Gustave has a legitimate chance to make the Astros’ opening day bullpen. The 24-year-old righthander from the Dominican Republic complements a high 90s fastball with a power slider and has shown he can handle multi-inning outings.

“I think he’s right in the mix to make our bullpen, both by improvements that he’s made in the last couple of seasons but also the first impression in the big leagues,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “He has an elite fastball and a developing breaking ball.”

Gustave began last season in Triple-A, where he had a 3.79 ERA in 57 innings. Once in the majors he had a 3.52 ERA in 15.1 innings, striking out 16 and walking four. He was called on to record more than three outs in six of his 14 appearances.

His ability to provide some length out of the bullpen could give him an advantage in vying for a roster spot in spring training.

Gustave was originally acquired by the Astros in May 2010, when he signed for a mere $40,000 bonus. The Red Sox took him in the 2014 Rule 5 draft and dealt him to the Royals, who lost him on a waiver claim to the Padres, who then returned him to the Astros in April 2015.

Now he could play a role for the Astros in a 2017 in which the team is primed to contend.

“My impression was that he could handle the moment,” Hinch said. “He’s a real calm-demeanor guy, which is somewhat rare for a guy who throws as hard as he does. Usually there’s a little bit more hyperness to the delivery and the emotional side of being a bullpen guy.

“But he really was calm, he was under control, he was a strike thrower. He could take instruction. He and (pitching coach Brent Strom) and bullpen coach (Craig Bjornson) worked on his breaking ball and how he’s going to have to adapt to the big leagues and he seemed to be a quick learner, so I’m anxious to get to camp with him.”


The Astros brought back both Triple-A Fresno manager Tony DeFrancesco and Double-A Corpus Christi manager Rodney Linares for the 2017 season.

Houston named former Astros third baseman Morgan Ensberg as the organization’s manager at short-season Tri-City, his first career managerial post. Ensberg, 41, has worked for the Astros since 2013, spending last season as a development coach.

— Jake Kaplan covers the Astros for the Houston Chronicle

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