Astros announce non-roster invites to Spring Training

The Houston Astros announced their 2015 non-roster invites to Major League Spring Training today, which includes five pitchers, three catchers, seven infielders and two outfielders for a total of 17 players. The announcement was made by Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow.

Prior to today, the Astros previously announced three non-roster invites: LHP Darin Downs, IF Dan Johnson and IF Gregorio Petit. Joining that trio will be OF Andrew Aplin, RHP Mark Appel, IF Carlos Correa, IF Matt Duffy, C Luis Flores, IF Nolan Fontana, C Tyler Heineman, RHP Jordan Jankowski, IF Colin Moran, C Roberto Pena, RHP Brady Rodgers, IF Joe Sclafani, RHP Jason Stoffel and OF Preston Tucker.

Aplin, 23, combined to hit .265 (120x452) with 26 stolen bases and 65 RBI in 126 games between the Double A (98g) and Triple A (28g) levels. On the season, Aplin walked 80 times, compared to his 71 strikeouts, for a .372 on-base percentage. Aplin spent the majority of his season with Double A Corpus Christi and was a Texas League Midseason All-Star before his promotion to Triple A in August. Aplin also had a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League this offseason, hitting .269 (18x67) with a .388 on-base percentage in 19 games with the AFL Champion Salt River Rafters. He was originally a fifth-round selection out of Arizona State by Houston in the June 2012 draft.

Appel, 23, was the No. 1 overall selection in the 2013 MLB Draft out of Stanford University. He has pitched two seasons in the minors for Houston, topping out at Corpus Christi last year, where he posted a 3.69 ERA (16ER/39IP) in seven games (six starts). The Astros No. 2 prospect per MLB.com, Appel also had a strong Arizona Fall League, leading the circuit in innings pitched (31IP) while ranking tied for second in strikeouts (24) and tied for sixth in WHIP (0.84). He finished his AFL campaign 1-0 with a 2.61 ERA (9ER/31.0IP) in seven starts. This is Appel's second consecutive invite to Major League Spring Training.

Correa, 20, who was the first overall selection in the 2012 draft, played at Advanced Class A Lancaster last year, posting a .325 (81x249) batting average with 16 doubles, six triples, six home runs and 57 RBI in 62 games. He was named a California League Midseason All-Star despite having his season cut short due to injury in June. According to MLB.com, Correa is the Astros No. 1 prospect and ranks as the No. 2 prospect in all of baseball.

Duffy, 25, hit .288 (149x517) with 22 doubles, 18 home runs and 84 RBI combined between the Triple A (87g) and Double A (49g) levels last season. Duffy split his time at the corner infield positions in 2014, starting 64 games at both first base and third base. A 2014 Texas League All-Star, Duffy is entering his fifth season as a professional since the Astros drafted him out of the University of Tennessee in the 20th round of the June 2011 draft.

Flores, 28, was acquired by Houston from Chicago (NL) this offseason in the Triple A phase of the 2014 Rule 5 Draft. The veteran backstop split his 2014 season between Triple A Iowa (31g) and Double A Tennessee (36g), combining to hit .253 (49x243) with five home runs, 21 RBI and a .388 on-base percentage. He collected 41 walks, as opposed to 37 strikeouts on the year. Flores was originally a 2008 seventh-round pick by Chicago out of Oklahoma State.

Fontana, 23, hit .262 (60x229) with 21 doubles, 26 RBI, 61 walks and a .418 on-base percentage in 66 games at Corpus Christi last season. A Texas League All-Star middle infielder, Fontana had his season cut short due to injury in June. Fontana is a three-year pro and owns a career .427 OBP in 219 minor league games. He was originally the Astros second-round pick out of Florida in the June 2012 draft.

Heineman, 23, hit .242 (64x265) with 15 doubles and 25 RBI in 78 games with Corpus Christi last season. This marks his second consecutive season as a non-roster invite to the Astros Major League Spring Training. The switch-hitting catcher is entering his fourth professional season, and just his third full season, after being selected out of UCLA in the eighth round of the June 2012 draft.

Jankowski, 24, posted a 3.58 ERA (43ER/108IP) with 120 strikeouts and a .227 opponent's batting average in 30 games (14 starts) for Corpus Christi in 2014. He posted solid numbers as a reliever, going 1-1 with three saves, 47 strikeouts and a 2.82 ERA (12ER/38.1IP) in 16 appearances out of the bullpen. Jankowski was originally a 34th-round pick of the Astros in the June 2012 draft.

Moran, 22, combined to hit .296 (140x473) with 27 doubles, seven home runs and 55 RBI in 117 games between Corpus Christi (28g) and Class A Advanced Jupiter (89g) last season. He began the year in the Marlins organization before Houston acquired him as part of the Jarred Cosart, five-player trade with Miami at last season's trading deadline. Moran was originally the fifth player taken in the first round of the June 2013 draft.

Pena, 22, hit .249 (87x350) with 19 doubles, 13 home runs and 54 RBI in 93 games at Class A Advanced Lancaster last season. Named the Astros Best Defensive Catcher by Baseball America while entering each of the last four seasons (2011-14), Pena earned the 2014 Rawlings Gold Glove Award, the only catcher in all of minor league baseball to earn this honor. He also was a Midseason and Postseason All-Star in the California League, while he led all league catchers in fielding percentage (.996) and caught stealing percentage (56.5%). Pena was originally a seventh-round selection by Houston in the June 2010 draft.

Rodgers, 24, posted a 4.55 ERA (64ER/126.2IP) in 27 games (18 starts) at the Triple A (1g) and Double A (26g) levels last season. A control pitcher, Rodgers led the Texas League in strikeout to walk ratio (4.58) and walks per 9.0 innings (1.42). Rodgers is entering his fourth professional campaign since being drafted by Houston in the third round of the June 2012 draft. Rodgers is a native of nearby Richmond, TX, and attended Arizona State University.

Sclafani, 24, combined to hit .315 (106x336) with 11 doubles, five triples, three home runs and 40 RBI in 98 games between the Triple A (62g) and Double A (36g) levels last season. He excelled at Triple A Oklahoma City, posting a .339 (65x195) average, while reaching base safely in each of his last 45 games to end the season. He split his time between second base (50gs) and shortstop (26gs) this season but also has experience in the corner outfield and shortstop positions in his career. Sclafani was drafted by Houston out of Dartmouth in the 14th round of the June 2012 draft.

Stoffel, 26, posted a solid season in 2014 while pitching in relief at the Triple A level. He finished his year 5-4 with 11 saves, 68 strikeouts and a 3.20 ERA (23ER/64.2IP) in 54 appearances. Stoffel has pitched in Triple A in each of the last two seasons, combining for a 13-5 record and a 3.33 ERA (47ER/127IP) in 98 appearances. He was originally acquired by Houston from San Francisco in exchange for IF Jeff Keppinger on July 19, 2011.

Tucker, 24, split his second full professional season between Triple A (73g) and Double A (65g) combining to hit .282 (151x536) with 35 doubles, 24 homers, 94 RBI and an .834 OPS in 138 games between the two levels. He led all Astros minor leaguers in home runs and RBI and became the first Astros minor leaguer since Jason Lane (2000-01) to record consecutive 30-double, 20-homer, 90-RBI seasons. Tucker was originally drafted by the Astros in the seventh round of the 2012 draft.

Seven of the Astros top 10 prospects, per MLB.com, will be in attendance at Major League Spring Training, including Correa (No. 1), Appel (No. 2), OF Domingo Santana (No. 3), RHP Mike Foltynewicz (No. 4), Moran (No. 5), RHP Michael Feliz (No. 7) and RHP Vincent Velasquez (No. 8). Santana, Foltynewicz, Feliz and Velasquez are currently on the Astros 40-man roster.

With Houston's 17 non-roster invitees scheduled to attend camp, the overall Spring Training roster total is at 56 players (25 pitchers, 31 position players). The 40-man roster is currently at 39. The report dates for Spring Training are Feb. 20 for pitchers and catchers and Feb. 24 for position players.