Mar 18, 2022; Jupiter, Florida, USA; Houston Astros pitcher J.P. France (78) delivers a pitch in third inning of the game against the St. Louis Cardinals during spring training at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Welcome to the Gallery Sports’ Houston Astros Spring Training player spotlight: Astros Player of the Day. We will look at a different Astros player each day throughout the spring.
Today’s Astros Player of the Day is pitcher J.P. France.
France is a 27-year-old pitcher that pitched three seasons at Tulane before playing his final year of college baseball at Mississippi State, during which he posted a 3.77 ERA while striking out 65 batters in 59.2 innings pitched. The Astros drafted him in round 14 of the 2018 draft, and he remained in Single-A until 2021 when he appeared in eight games for Houston’s Double-A affiliate before making the jump to Triple-A Sugar Land.
With the then Skeeters in 2021, France started thirteen of the seventeen games he appeared in and finished the season with a 3.59 ERA and 6-1 record while striking out 107 batters over 80.1 innings. He spent the whole 2022 season with the Space Cowboys, making 15 starts and 34 total appearances, finishing with a 3-4 record and 3.90 ERA, a slight regression from his 2021 numbers.
The Astros clearly value his potential enough that it warranted them moving him onto the 40-man roster this offseason to protect him from being eligible for the Rule 5 draft and being taken by another team. While France has the makings of a potential starter, Houston did move him into Sugar Land’s bullpen later in the 2022 season, which may indicate the role they want for him should he warrant elevation to the major league team.
After the move to join the bullpen, France made 12 relief appearances to finish 2022, allowing earned runs in just two of those while striking out 20 over 16.2 innings. With the injury to Lance McCullers Jr. already causing some shake-up with Houston’s pitching staff, at least to start the season, it’s unclear exactly where France’s best opportunity may arise to make his MLB debut. It continues to show, though, that the Astros have built one strong arsenal of pitchers both in the majors and down on the farm.