Bregman feels 'very comfortable' playing third

Bregman feels 'very comfortable' playing third

BOSTON -- Top Astros prospect Alex Bregman said Saturday he felt "very comfortable" after playing his first game at third base as a professional in the first game of a doubleheader Friday for Double-A Corpus Christi. Bregman was selected No. 2 overall in last year's Draft out of LSU as a shortstop and played short until getting the start at third on Friday.

"It went great," Bregman said by phone on Saturday. "I felt great. I got some plays in the field and felt very comfortable. I played one summer at third base before in my life with the Team USA 18-year-old team, so it wasn't too crazy, the move back over there. I had been taking some ground balls there a little bit in practice and this offseason as well and felt very comfortable there and am looking to help contribute in any way possible."

The defensive reports of Bregman at third base were good, general manager Jeff Luhnow said. Bregman was solid and moved well and didn't miss a beat. Bregman returned to shortstop in the second game of the doubleheader, but he figures to get more time at third.

"I feel like I'll be very comfortable here really soon -- really, really soon," Bregman said. "I'm pretty comfortable there already, but I feel like in a few days I'll be very comfortable there."

Getting Bregman some playing time at third has long been anticipated after the Astros drafted him last year. Carlos Correa, the No. 1 pick in the 2012 Draft, has shortstop locked down in Houston for years to come, and considering Bregman could be on a fast track to the big leagues, he'll have to find another position to play.

"At the beginning of the year, we talked about position versatility, and because he was going to straight to Double-A, we wanted to make sure he felt comfortable at that level and felt comfortable at the plate first," Luhnow said. "We didn't want him to switch positions or have him try a new position while he was getting accustomed to a higher level.

"It's pretty clear he's been able to fit in well at that level offensively, and we figured now's a good time to at least try out some alternatives. He can play shortstop. We believe he's capable of being a Major League shortstop, but we have a good one who's going to be around for a while. The more versatility we have, the more options we have to get him up to the big leagues."

Bregman has feasted on Double-A pitching, entering Saturday hitting .317 with a .411 on-base percentage with seven homers and 19 RBIs.

"I'm just trying to do what we worked on all offseason, which was kind of hit the ball on a low line the other way and elevate stuff in the air to left field," he said. "I put on about 20 pounds this offseason, which I think has helped the power numbers. Other than that, just confident in my preparation. At the beginning of the year, I was seeing it really, really well. Right now, I'm seeing it pretty well."

Astros third basemen entered Saturday last in the Majors in batting average (.181), on base-percentage (.273) and 28th in slugging percentage (.299). Colin Moran (.291 average) is having a nice season at Triple-A Fresno, so a promotion to Houston could open the door for Bregman to play third in Triple-A.

"Certainly, he doesn't have a ton of pro experience yet, but he's showing us that he's capable of handling the higher levels of the Minor Leagues very quickly, which is good sign," Luhnow said. "I wouldn't rule out him getting [to the Majors] this year, but we have to see how the rest of the season goes for him and if there's an opening for him at the big leagues."

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.