The Astros announced Thursday that they’ve designated first baseman J.J. Matijevic and outfielder Bligh Madris for assignment. Their spots on the 40-man roster will go to third baseman/outfielder Corey Julks and catcher/first baseman Cesar Salazar, whose previously reported selections to the 40-man roster are now official.
Matijevic, 27, was Houston’s second-round pick back in 2017. He made his big league debut in 2022 but received only 71 plate appearances, during which he posted a dreary .209/.254/.328 slash with a pair of home runs but a 35.2% strikeout rate. Matijevic’s Triple-A track record is far more impressive. He’s totaled 599 plate appearances there across parts of two seasons, batting .263/.347/.530 with 32 home runs, 35 doubles, five triples, 14 steals (in 16 tries) and an 11% walk rate — albeit against a more concerning 27.7% strikeout rate.
Scouting reports on Matijevic praise his power and an improved approach in recent seasons, but there are questions remaining about his hit tool and lack of defensive upside. He’s played first base and left field in the minors, but he’s not a great defender at either position. He does have a pair of minor league options remaining, so a team looking for a lefty bat and perhaps some depth at first and/or in left field could take a look.
Madris, 27, made his big league debut in 2022, splitting the season between the Pirates and Rays. He didn’t appear in the Majors with Tampa Bay following a mid-September waiver claim but did log 39 games with the Pirates, struggling to a .177/.244/.265 batting line through his first 123 Major League plate appearances.
The lefty-swinging Madris, however, has been far better in Triple-A Indianapolis, where he notched a combined .297/.366/.510 batting line with 11 homers, 22 doubles and four triples. He has two option years remaining. Madris handled right-handed pitching particularly well in 2022, batting .272/.345/.492 between the big leagues and Triple-A. He’s played primarily right field but does have some experience in the other two outfield slots and at first base. Madris had a solid spring, batting .273/.385/.333 in 39 plate appearances with the Astros.
Houston will have a week to trade both players or else attempt to pass them through outright waivers.
Matijevic DFA’d only for his spot to be taken by former University of Arizona Wildcats teammate Cesar Salazar. That’s tough.
Jj has some good minors numbers. Someone will probably give him a shot
I met JJ when he was flying to Houston to make his debut. He was excited beyond words. Hope he lands on his feet
By all accounts he is a great guy. The kind of guy you wish success follows.
That said, he had terrible 35.2% K rate and only walked 2.8% as a 26 year old after extensive AA and AAA experience. And he is not a good defender who is limited to 1B and LF.
The Astros have half a dozen lefthanded OF prospects (who could all play 1B) who are younger and better and simply passed him in the pecking order.