After four crisscrossed years floating around the minor leagues, Josh Fields is on a mission.

It’s partly religious and fully inspired. Preaching tunnel vision and tuning out a baseball world that saw him fall from the hot-armed No. 20 overall pick of the 2008 draft to a Class AA castoff, Fields has endured blocked paths with two pro teams to finally discover an opening with the rebuilding Astros.

Fields (6-0, 185 pounds) entered spring training as a strong contender for a late-inning role. The righthander’s fastball approaches 95 mph, his off-speed material is strong and he’s finally harnessed control issues that derailed his early career. After two weeks of workouts, Fields hasn’t disappointed, in turn drawing praise from manager Bo Porter, general manager Jeff Luhnow and coaches.

But until Fields, 27, makes the major league cut, he’s tuning out all noise.

The Hull, Ga., native speaks softly in a thick Southern drawl and deflects any personal attention. After four years of disappointment, he simply pitches.

“All I can do is take it today, do my work today,” Fields said. “Those decisions are out of my hands, and I’m just leaving that to the good Lord to guide my steps and guide my path.”

Long history
Luhnow called it the Nintendo curveball.

Fields was a Georgia Bulldog, and the young, skinny hurler instantly caught Luhnow’s scouting eye.


Fields had a hard fastball that hit 95. He was a dead-on, first-round pick, and Luhnow — then with St. Louis — quickly pegged Fields as one of those rare prospects who would advance to the majors within a year of playing their first minor league game.

Fields’ heater was real. But his curve that started high, rapidly arced downward and only landed once the bottom had disappeared into a catcher’s glove? That was the Nintendo curveball. That was Fields’ big league ticket.

“You just point the down button and phfft,” said Luhnow, sounding out the final word while slicing his hand through the air.