Astros pitching coach Brent Strom said Tuesday that Valdez is one of three legitimate candidates for the No. 5 rotation spot, along with Josh James and Austin Pruitt, Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle reports.
Valdez has been inconsistent -- to put it nicely -- in his stints at the major-league level and was left off the playoff roster, but he will get another chance to prove himself as a starter this spring. Strom noted that Valdez once received high praise from the best player in the game. "I never forget what (Mike) Trout said when he faced Valdez that it was some of the best stuff he'd seen in baseball." The left-handed Valdez has a couple minor-league options remaining.