With the conclusion of the Winter Meetings and Rule 5 Draft yesterday, the Astros have 26 players who should be eligible for the first time at next December's draft. Here's a look at five players who are most likely to be added to the 40-man roster for protection:
Chris Johnson, 3B. Johnson spent 2008 with Corpus Christi and Round Rock. He also had a solid Arizona Fall League. There has been some speculation that he will be in Houston at some point during 2009, so I can't see any way he is not on the 40-man roster come December 2009.
Bud Norris, RHP. Norris is from everything I've read the top pitcher in the system. I'm not sure if he'll start at Corpus or Round Rock in 2009, but he's another one who may see Houston during the 2009 "Championship" season.
James Van Ostrand, OF. The Canadian Olympian had a solid 2008 at Salem(High A). If he has good production at AA, he may earn a 40-man spot.
Sergio Perez, RHP. Perez had his AA season in 2008 shortened by two injuries. My guess he is in Corpus to start 2009. A good showing may propel him to the 40-man roster.
Koby Clemens, C. If the catching experiment goes well in year two, he may be worth protecting.
ONE SPECIAL CASE:
Josh Flores, OF. Flores was Rule 5 eligible for the first time this December. However, he was injured all 0f 2008. If returns well to Corpus, he may need protecting next December.