Astros sign of Ruggiano to Minor League deal

HOUSTON, TX -  The Astros have signed free agent outfielder Justin Ruggiano to a minor league contract, which includes an invitation to Spring Training, General Manager Jeff Luhnow announced today.

Ruggiano, 29, has spent parts of three seasons in the Major Leagues, all with the Tampa Bay Rays. He split the 2011 season between Tampa Bay and Triple A Durham. In 46 games for the Rays, Ruggiano hit .248 (26x105) with four home runs and 13 RBI, while posting a .391 (9x23) clip with runners in scoring position. In 43 games at Durham, he  hit .304 (51x168) with seven home runs and 34 RBI with a .518 slugging pct.

Ruggiano, who was born in Austin, TX and attended Texas A&M University, has a .295 career average in parts of eight minor league seasons with 103 home runs, hitting a career-high 20 round-trippers for Durham in 2007. He has reached 20 or more stolen bases in a season five times and finished third in the International League in outfield assists with 10 in 2010 while at Durham. In 2008, he was named by Baseball America as having the Rays organization’s Best Outfield Arm.  Ruggiano’s first Major League home run was on June 21, 2008 vs. Houston off left-handed pitcher Wandy Rodriguez.

ASTROS ADD FIVE NON-ROSTER INVITES

Luhnow also announced today that the following non-roster players have been invited to Spring Training: IF Delino DeShields, OF Jake Goebbert, 1B Jonathan Singleton, OF George Springer, IF Jonathan Villar. The total number of players scheduled to attend camp this season is now 61, with 21 non-roster players.

DeShields, who will play most of the 2012 season at 19 years old, was the Astros first pick in the 2010 First Year Player Draft. In 2011, in what was his first full season as a pro, DeShields tallied 17 doubles, nine home runs and 48 RBI in 119 games at Class A Lexington. He also led the club in stolen bases (30) and runs scored (73) while batting .220.

Goebbert, 24, played at three levels in 2011, hitting a combined .290 with 27 doubles, four triples, 12 home runs, 67 RBI and 42 walks in 132 games at Class A Lancaster, Double A Corpus Christi and Triple A Oklahoma City. In 2010 at Class A Lexington, Goebbert earned Team MVP honors after hitting .291 with 10 home runs, 98 RBI and 48 doubles, the latter of which were tops in the South Atlantic League. His 98 RBI led all Astros minor leaguers. Goebbert was selected by the Astros in the 13th round of the of the 2009 June Draft.

The 20-year-old Singleton, who is rated as the Astros top minor league prospect by Baseball America, hit .333 in 35 games at Class A Lancaster with nine doubles, four home runs, 16 RBI and 14 walks after being acquired from the Phillies on July 29, 2011, as part of the Hunter Pence trade. The left-handed hitting Singleton, who was also rated as the Phillies top prospect prior to the trade, posted a .405 on-base pct. and a .512 slugging pct. for Lancaster. Overall for the season, he hit .298 in a combined 128 games at  Class A Clearwater and Lancaster with 23 doubles, 13 home runs, 63 RBI and 70 walks.

Springer, 22,  was the Astros first pick in the 2011 June Draft after earning Big East Player of the Year honors at the University of Connecticut where he hit .343 with 12 home runs and 77 RBI in 66 games. After signing with Houston, Springer appeared in eight games at Short Season Class A Tri-City.

Villar, 20, played in a combined 130 games (all at shortstop) in 2011 at Class A Lancaster and Double A Corpus Christi, hitting .241 with 23 doubles, six triples, 14 home runs, 52 RBI and 34 stolen bases. Villar was acquired by the Astros from the Phillies on July 29, 2010, as part of the Roy Oswalt trade.