10 Jan Rays deal Pruitt to Houston
HOUSTON — Welcome home, Austin Pruitt.
The Houston Astros acquired righthanded pitcher Austin Pruitt Thursday from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for two minor league prospects — pitcher Peyton Battenfield and outfielder Cal Stevenson.
Pruitt, who attended The Woodlands College Park High School, pitched two seasons at Navarro before finishing his collegiate career at The University of Houston. He became the Rays’ ninth-round selection in MLB’s 2013 amateur baseball draft.
Pruitt pitched in 67 major league games, started 10, and compiled a 12-8 won-loss record with a 4.87 earned-run average.
In the 2019 season, the 30-year-old fashioned a 3-0 record over 47 innings in a variety of roles. He started two games and finished four others among his 14 appearances. He mostly served as a long reliever in 23 games of the 2018 season.
Pruitt, the headliner in the trade, ranked near the top of the major leagues in spin rate, and that is something the Astros are known to value greatly.
Most of Pruitt’s major league work has come as a reliever, but has been a full-time starter in the minors. Astros President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Jeff Luhnow told reporters that they intend “to give him a chance” to earn a rotation spot entering the 2020 season.
Unlike some previous seasons, the Astros have some rotation question marks after Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke and Lance McCullers, Jr., who is returning from Tommy John surgery. Pruitt may join Brad Peacock, unproven Jose Urquidy and prospect Forrest Whitley in contention for the other two starting roles.
Pruitt pitched coach Whoa Dill’s 2011 Navarro Bulldogs to the NJCAA Championship at the JUCO World Series in Grand Junction, Col. Pruitt compiled a 1.08 earned-run average and struck out 76 in 91.1 innings for the 46-19 Bulldogs.