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Spring training is underway in the world of baseball, and while most teams are looking for new star players to emerge, the Houston Astros are in a different position. As the defending champions, they have a solid roster already in place and are looking for just a few pieces to complete their puzzle. However, in true baseball fashion, there is still excitement brewing in Astros camp. One player, in particular, has caught their attention and is emerging with a chance to make a big contribution in 2023.

Right-hander Ronel Blanco has been transitioning into a starter and is performing exceptionally well during spring training. In their recent game against the Cardinals, Blanco pitched 3 1/3 scoreless innings and struck out five batters. With 50 pitches thrown, Blanco stretched out his arm and proved himself to be a valuable contender for the Astros’ search for in-house rotation depth.

Although Blanco has been a traditional reliever for the past four seasons, the Astros see potential in him as a starter. At 29 years old, Blanco already has a starter’s background and has pitched 88 innings over 23 appearances, including 11 starts, as recently as 2017. Despite his late start in the game, Blanco found success in the Minor Leagues and has proven himself to be ready for the big leagues.

The Astros are well aware of the importance of depth in the pitching rotation, especially in a long season where injuries and fatigue can be a tough challenge to overcome. They are experimenting with Blanco’s transition to a starter, and so far, the results have been promising. Not only has Blanco been hitting his pitches inside the strike zone, but he’s been able to execute them well too. His fastball, which lived in the low-to-mid-90s, has been complemented by his slider, curveball, and changeup.

Although the Astros are taking a gamble on Blanco’s transition, it’s a win-win situation for them. If he can perform well as a starter, they will have found a valuable addition to their pitching rotation. If not, Blanco will still be a reliable reliever who can go multiple innings as opposed to just one. With the Astros’ success in winning the World Series, it’s clear that they know what they’re doing. So, let’s keep an eye out for Blanco’s progress this season and see how he adds to the Astros’ already formidable team.