Astros send four to Minor League camp

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Considering the Astros roster is nearly set a little more than a week out from the regular season, some of the team’s end-of-camp roster moves are a mere formality. On Saturday, the Astros reassigned pitchers Tyson Perez and Jordan Jankowski and outfielders Jon Kemmer and Alejandro Garcia to Minor League camp. The Astros also gave lefty C.J. Riefenhauser his unconditional release.

None of those five players were candidates to make the team, and the moves leave the Astros with 34 players remaining in camp. Four other players — catcher Juan Centeno, infielders Reid Brignac and J.D. Davis and outfielder Derek Fisher — were told by manager A.J. Hinch they won’t make the club, but will remain in camp. Centeno and Fisher will stay through the final Grapefruit League game on Wednesday, and Brignac and Davis will travel to Houston for next week’s exhibitions.

Hinch said Fisher (Astros’ No. 4-ranked prospect by and Davis (No. 13) were “the two guys who have probably taken the biggest leap forward when it comes to how comfortable they are at this level.” Hinch said Fisher could help the big league club this year and can impact the game in a lot of ways with his speed and athleticism.

Davis' solo homer

“Fisher’s been dynamic on the bases,” Hinch said. “He’s been very successful stealing bases, he’s picked up on a lot of cues, he’s taken some of the things we’ve worked on in the back fields into game action. He’s pretty electrifying when he gets on base. I like how he’s taken ownership of the things he needs to do to get better.”

Brignac, a 31-year-old non-roster invitee who has a June 1 opt-out in his contract, was hitting .326 with a homer and 10 RBIs entering Saturday, having taken up switch-hitting. He said Hinch wants him to continue doing that with Triple-A Fresno. He wasn’t going to make the Astros because they’re carrying 13 pitchers.

“It’s always a little disappointing, but it’s to be expected,” Brignac said. “I’m glad I played well, and I was able to impress the guys and coaches and feel that goes a long way, especially when something happens during the season. You want them to feel confident to bring me up and play me. That was the main goal, to impress A.J. and [general manager] Jeff [Luhnow], and you want them to feel comfortable when they need somebody to make a move for me.”

The Astros signed Riefenhauser in December as a possible left-handed option in the bullpen, but he walked seven batters in 7 2/3 innings this spring.

“Coming into camp, we took a good long look at him, and we stayed relatively healthy, and the opportunities ran out,” Hinch said.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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