Luhnow: 'Jonathan Villar and Jarred Cosart deserve to be here'
The future is starting now for the Astros, who immediately following Sunday’s 12-5 home loss to Seattle, announced that Jonathan Villar is being called up from Triple-A Oklahoma City. Villar will start at shortstop on Monday when the Astros begin a three-game series with Oakland.
On Tuesday, right-handed pitcher Jarred Cosart will make his second start in the major leagues after pitching eight scoreless innings of two-hit ball in his debut win at Tampa Bay on July 12.
“Both have earned the promotion,” said Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow. “We’re focused on where the Astros are going.”
Sunday’s loss dropped the Astros to 33-64. It was their fifth straight loss and eighth in the last nine games.
To make room for the 22-year-old Villar and 23-year-old Cosart, the Astros dropped two veterans. Carlos Pena and Ronny Cedeno were designated for assignment. Cedeno was hitting .220 in 51 games and Pena .209 in 85 games.
“The thought process is to improve the roster,” said Astros manager Bo Porter. “Whenever you make moves, you make moves that you believe in your heart that you're going to improve your roster.
“And we believe in our heart that Jonathan Villar makes us a better ballclub. And that's why we're making the move.”
Villar, has been with Oklahoma City all season, hitting .278 with eight home runs and 41 RBIs in 90 games. The switch hitter also has 30 stolen bases.
“He’s young,” said Luhnow. “He has a lot of speed. It’s an element we don’t have up here.”
Villar was acquired from the Philadelphia organization along with LHP J.A. Happ in exchange for RHP Roy Oswalt on July 29, 2010.
Villar will be the Astros’ everyday shortstop. Jake Elmore, who has been getting the majority of time at shortstop lately, can play a number of positions and will play a utility role with the team. The shortstop job belongs to Villar.
“It's more about Villar's ready and we need to get a long, extended look at him,” said Porter. “And we just felt like the timing was right from a standpoint of the other shortstops in which we had the opportunity to look at and evaluate and give playing time to.
“It’s time to move forward in the standpoint that we believe this guy can be our shortstop of the future and we're going to take that opportunity to give it to him right now."
Villar had a fielding percentage of .956 at OKC.
Astros outfielder J.D. Martinez played with Villar at Double A Corpus Christi in 2011 and likes Villar’s overall game.
“He can blow up (do something spectacular) at any second,” said Martinez. “He has the ability to hit and has a great arm and can go deep in the hole.
“He’s an exciting player with lots of energy. He plays hard and has a lot of talent and ability. He’ll be fun to watch.”