The Astros have designated right-hander Austin Pruitt for assignment, tweets Jake Kaplan of The Athletic. Last night’s trade of Abraham Toro and Joe Smith to the Mariners in exchange for Kendall Graveman and Rafael Montero led to some roster shuffling, with infielder Robel Garcia being called up in Toro’s place and Graveman formally being activated in place of Smith. But the Astros needed another spot to activate Montero, and they’ll do so at the expense of Pruitt’s spot on both the 26- and 40-man rosters.
Pruitt, 31, is a Texas native whom the Astros acquired from the Rays in Jan. 2020. At the time, he was viewed as a potential fifth starter or swingman, having pitched to a 4.55 ERA with below-average strikeout rates but excellent control and an above-average 49.9 percent ground-ball rate in his past 116 innings with Tampa Bay. Like many Astros acquisitions, Pruitt stood out for top-of-the-scale spin rate on his curveball, even though it hadn’t translated into a breakout at the MLB level.
Unfortunately for both Pruitt and the organization, what was initially diagnosed as a bone bruise instead proved to be a hairline fracture in his pitching elbow. Pruitt eventually required surgery for the injury — a procedure that sidelined him well into the 2021 season. Pruitt made his Astros debut not two weeks ago and ultimately only appeared in a pair of games, yielding a pair of solo homers in 2 2/3 innings with one strikeout and no walks.
All in all, Pruitt has a 4.89 ERA in 202 1/3 Major League innings with sub-par strikeout rates but strong walk numbers and an above-average grounder rate. He’s out of minor league options, however, so any club that acquires him will need to carry him on the big league roster. If he does land with another club and stick, he’d be controllable three more years via arbitration. The Astros can trade him between now and Friday’s deadline, otherwise he’ll likely head to outright waivers and be available for any team to claim.
Houston’s 40-man roster is now at 39 players.