Every team has regrets about giving up on a player who breaks out elsewhere, though in the Astros’ case, it’s a bit tougher to watch since Ramon Laureano is blossoming for a division rival, Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle writes. Laureano (a 16th-round pick for the Astros in 2014) showed some flashes of potential over his first four pro seasons, though it wasn’t enough to make him part of Houston’s long-term plans, especially considering the organization’s outfield depth. “We loved him, it wasn’t a lack of affection for him, it was just that we ran out of a lot of opportunity for him,” manager A.J. Hinch said. Rather than protect Laureano in the 2017 Rule 5 Draft, the Astros instead dealt the outfielder to the Athletics in November 2017 for minor league righty Brandon Bailey.
After hitting well for Oakland’s Triple-A affiliate, Laureano got the call to the big leagues last August and hasn’t looked back. He has become the Athletics’ everyday center fielder thanks to both a potent bat (.284/.344/.469 over 215 career PA) and some excellent defense, including earning the nickname of “Laser Ramon” thanks to his powerful throwing arm. “I don’t think we quite had the defense rated as well as its played in the big leagues,” Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said. “That was an underassessment on our part….We had a feeling (Laureano) was going to be a pretty good big league player, but he’s gotten off to a faster start in his career than we thought. So, yeah, he’s one that I’d love to have back.”