Friday, November 21, 2014

Happy Birthday - 11/21

Happy Birthday to ~

OF Luis Vasquez (21)
Vasquez is in his second professional season, having played his first in the Tampa Bay organization. In 55 games for the Dominican Summer League Astros, he hit .211/.291/.289. He is from the Dominican Republic.

LHP Chris Cotton (24)
Drafted by Houston in the 14th round in 2013 out of LSU, Cotton pitched for Quad Cities for the vast majority of the 2014 season, receiving a late call-up to Lancaster. In a total of 35 appearances, he had a 4.01 ERA and a 1.234 WHIP. He walked 11 batters and struck out 50 in 58.1 innings of work.

Former Astros with birthdays today ~

RHP Gary Wilson (60)
A first round pick for the Astros in 1976, Wilson's entire major league career consisted of seven and a third innings pitched in 6 games for Houston in 1979 with a 12.27 ERA and a 2.864 WHIP.

SS/2B Tripp Cromer (47)
Originally drafted by the Cardinals in the third round in 1989, Cromer first signed with Houston as a free agent in December 1999. In 12 games for the Astros in 2000 and 2003, he hit .167/.231/.333.

Tweet of the Day

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Some Thoughts on Astros Protected Players and the Rule 5 Draft

[UPDATE: Well, Astros front office weirdness rears its head again after I went to bed early and missed all the fun. I'm not necessarily buying the circuitous logic and explanation behind the way things went down, but they did the right thing in protecting Michael Feliz, albeit at the last minute. He would have been drafted and taking the chance that he wouldn't stick was a big one to take.]

Just some quick thoughts about the players that were and weren't protected on the 40-man roster by the Astros in advance of the Rule 5 draft on December 11th:

RHP Vince Velasquez needed to be protected, and was. As I wrote in my earlier post on this subject, if Velasquez can stay healthy during 2015, he could very well be a September call-up, but in any event, he should be challenging for a 25-man roster spot out of Spring Training in 2016. IF HE STAYS HEALTHY.

IF Ronald Torreyes had a tremendous season at AAA and does have a great deal of versatility. The Astros see him as major-league ready and I would agree with that. However, I would not have protected him (as the Astros did) instead of protecting Michael Feliz. Torreyes' best position is second base, a position currently occupied by a certain Silver Slugger winner.

[UPDATE: FELIZ IS NOW PROTECTED.] Which brings us to RHP Michael Feliz. I know what the front office is thinking, "Yeah, he'll probably get drafted, but going from Low A to the major leagues is an awfully big step. I don't think he'll stick." I tend to agree with them, but if he does stick with the drafting team, this front office could end up being the one that lost the right-handed Johan Santana in the Rule 5 Draft (just as another Astros front office lost Santana himself). I'm not sure that I would have the stomach to make that decision. I had a little back-and-forth with John Manuel of Baseball America and, after I said that I wasn't as sure as he was that Feliz would stick with a team, he had this to say:

Yes, but ouch. Agreed. But ouch.

And I think that we have likely seen the last of LHP Tommy Shirley. He could fill a bullpen spot at the major league level immediately. When he was moved to the bullpen in Oklahoma City at the end of the season, he did extremely well. And he's not just a LOOGY. He can handle right-handed hitters equally well. I hope I'm wrong about Shirley because I really like his upside.

Others are concerned about OF Delino DeShields. I think that was another calculated risk based on his level of readiness for the majors and the number of outfielders at the high levels of the Astros farm system. I personally don't think he's ready for the major leagues right now and isn't likely to stick. Next year at this time, the story will likely be different.

C Roberto Pena has been mentioned as well. Jeff Luhnow told me last year that catchers are never drafted. That was before Adrian Neito was drafted by the White Sox and ended up sticking with them last season. I am somewhat worried about Pena now because he is such an elite defender.

Here is my post with some of the other players who are now at risk (assuming that there are no further changes before the deadline). Keep one thing in mind when looking at this. Every other team is also fighting with roster numbers and trying to keep flexibility in case the right free agent or trade comes along. Yes, the Astros will probably lose someone this year, but they aren't going to lose every one of these players. Other teams are as anxious to protect their players as the Astros are. Everyone is calculating the risks involved.

Astros Fall and Winter League Recaps

Results for Tuesday, November 18, 2014, and Wednesday, November 19, 2014

LIGA VENEZOLANA DE BÉISBOL PROFESIONAL

Tuesday: Caracas 5, Aragua 4 in 10 innings

L.J. Hoes had a nice night as he went 3-5, but it was Danry Vásquez who was the hero for Caracas on Tuesday as he tied the game with an RBI single in the bottom of the 8th and ended it in the first extra frame with a solo shot, his 3rd of the season. Danry finished 4-5 and also added 2 triples, the first of which drove in a run in the 2nd.

Wednesday: Caracas 12, Aragua 11

The capital club fought out of an 8-4 deficit after the 3rd inning and outscored Aragua 8-2 over the final 3 innings and walked off with another win. Danry extended his hitting streak to 5 games as he went 2-4 with a walk and a run scored. L.J. Hoes also finished 2-4; he scored twice.

Caracas is in Valencia for a game against Magallanes tonight at 7:30 Venezuelan time.

LIDOM

Results from Tuesday

Estrellas 1, Licey 0

Ruben Sosa appeared as a pinch-runner for Licey in the 7th. He did not remain in the game. Domingo Santana finished 1-3 with a strikeout.

Águilas 7, Escogido 3

Jonathan Villar finished 1-2 with 2 walks and a steal (5) for Águilas.

Toros 3, Gigantes 2

Jandel Gustave was the first man out of the Gigantes bullpen; he went 1.1 innings and allowed a run (inherited runner charged to him), 2 hits and walked 2. Toros scored a pair in the bottom of the 9th to walk off with the win.

Results from Wednesday

Toros 2, Águilas 1

Once again, Toros scored 2 in the bottom of the 9th to walk off with another win. Teoscar Hernandez entered the game as a pinch-runner in the 8th and remained in the game at CF. He did not appear at the plate.

In the only game in the Dominican tonight, Toros will take on Estrellas at 7:30 Atlantic.

Gigantes 6, Licey 3

Licey lost despite holding Gigantes to 5 hits. That's because they also committed 3 errors in the game, and now they've lost 5 straight. Domingo Santana hit a double in 4 at-bats and scored a run for Licey. The Santo Domingo clubs, Licey and Escogido, are bringing up the rear, while the two clubs that have traditionally been considered underachievers (Toros and Estrellas) top the LIDOM table.

Also something that's caught my eye in the standings... the two teams in the east are at the top, followed by the two teams representing the Cibao region, and then at the bottom are the capital clubs.

Licey will play Estrellas on Friday night, while Gigantes hosts Toros.

LIGA MEXICANA DEL PACÍFICO

Results from Tuesday

Jalisco 8, Navojoa 6

Jalisco only scored in 2 innings, but they were a pair of 4-run innings. Leo Heras finished 1-3 with a double, a walk, and a run scored.

Mexicali 5, Culiacán 3 in 11 innings

Gonzalo Sañudo entered the game for los Tomateros in the 8th and proceeded to throw 2 scoreless, allowing 2 hits, walking 1, and striking out 1.

Results from Wednesday

Jalisco 6, Navojoa 3

Leo Heras went 0-2 with 2 walks and a run scored.

The series concludes tonight at 7:00.

LIGA DE BÉISBOL PROFESIONAL ROBERTO CLEMENTE

Results from Tuesday

Mayagüez 8, Santurce 0

Delino DeShields went 0-3 with a strikeout as Santurce got wiped out.

Results from Wednesday

Carolina 5, Santurce 3

For Carolina, Carlos Corporán finished 1-3 before being subbed out for a pinch-runner in the 9th. Jobduan Morales came on to catch in the bottom of the 9th.

Tonight, Carolina will host Caguas at 7:30 Atlantic.

Caguas 3, San Juan 1

At the bottom of the San Juan lineup, Nolan Fontana finished 0-2 with a walk.

San Juan will return to action tomorrow when they host Caguas.

Looking at the Astros 2005 Draft Class

Over the last few weeks, we've been looking back at some of the Astros draft classes to see where things stand. Today, we're going to set Mr. Peabody's Wayback Machine for 2005 because I decided that looking at a full 10 years of draft info would be interesting, plus I had a head start with help from posts written by friend of the blog Steve Duer (aka Appy Astros) back in the day. (Many thanks, Steve!) And if you don't know who Mr. Peabody is, shame on you!!!

One thing I think you'll notice from the 2005 Draft is that the depth problems in the Astros farm system didn't start with Timmy and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad 2007 Draft. The 2005 draft wasn't exactly awash with future superstars either.  Let's look at the numbers:

48 players drafted
32 players signed
0 players still in the Astros system
8 players still active in organized baseball in 2014*
4 made it to the major leagues (only two played in the majors in 2014)

23 position players drafted/19 signed
6 from high school/5 signed
5 from junior college/3 signed
12 from college/11 signed

25 pitchers drafted/13 signed
8 from high school/2 signed
4 from junior college/1 signed
13 from college/10 signed

*Of the 8 players who were still active in organized baseball in 2014, two are players who did not sign with Houston, but later signed with other teams, two were released, two left via free agency and two were traded. Only two played in the major leagues in 2014 (Barnes and Lindblom, with Lindblom only making one appearance at that level for the season). Three played for minor league affiliates of major league teams (Henriquez, Colla and Bogusevic) in 2014 and the final three played in independent ball (Clemens, Mitchell and Thompson).

Here is a little on each of them. Players who were still playing in 2014 are in bold. The position shown is the position at which the player was drafted, and I have also indicated in parentheses whether they were drafted out of high school (HS), junior college (JC) or college (C).

1. LHP Brian Bogusevic (C) - Left as a Free Agent in 2012

Bogusevic transitioned from a pitcher to an outfielder, making his major league debut on September 1, 2010 in that position. He left the Astros as a free agent at the end of 2012, signing with the Cubs and was subsequently traded to the Marlins in December 2013. He most recently signed with the Phillies as a free agent in October 2014. In 299 games in the major leagues, he has a .236/.313/.370 batting line. In 615 minor league games, he has hit .284/.371/.425.

1s. OF Eli Iorg (C) - Released in 2009

Iorg was drafted with a supplemental pick given in consideration of losing OF Carlos Beltran to free agency. In five seasons in the organization, he hit .273/.323/.445 before his July 2009 release.

2. C Ralph Henriquez (HS) - Traded in 2007

Henriquez played three seasons in the Astros organization before being traded to the Mets in December 2007 for LHP Josh Appell. He has since played in the Mets organization (2008 and 2009), Seattle (2010-2012), independent ball (2013) and the Pirates (2014). He is currently a minor league free agent and has a career batting line of .225/.264/.329.

3. SS Tommy Manzella (C) - Selected off waivers in 2011

Manzella was selected with the Mets third round pick (received as compensation for losing Beltran) and played in the Astros system for seven seasons, making his major league debut for Houston on September 8, 2009. He played in 90 games for the Astros in 2009 and 2010, hitting .224/.266/.262. He was selected off waivers by the Diamondbacks in August 2011 and subsequently played in the minor league systems of the Diamondbacks, Brewers, White Sox, Rockies and Blue Jays. He last played in 2013 and never made it back to the major leagues. His career minor league batting line was .254/.313/.354.

3. RHP Josh Lindblom (HS) - Did not sign

Lindblom was subsequently drafted by the Dodgers in the 2nd round in 2008 and made his major league debut for that team on June 1, 2011. He was later traded to the Phillies, Rangers and A's. He only appeared in one game for Oakland at the major league level in 2014. In 110 major league games from 2011 through 2014, he has a 3.82 ERA and a 1.317 WHIP.

4. OF Josh Flores (JC) - Released in 2010

Flores played in the system from 2005 until his release in June 2010, but missed all of 2008 with a knee injury. He went on to play independent ball in 2010 and 2011 and ended his career with a .277/.353/.430 batting line.

5. 3B Billy Hart (C) - Released in 2009

Hart was in the Astros system, playing third base and left field, for four seasons prior to his release in March 2009. He ended with a .267/.352/.399 batting line. The Baseball America database shows that Hart signed with the Yankees in June 2012 and was released by them in October 2012, but it does not appear that he ever played in a game for them. But the Wharton School of Business graduate got his foot in the door with the organization and most recently was the Assistant Director of Baseball Operations for the Yankees.

6. OF Brandon Barnes (JC) - Traded in 2013

Barnes played in the Astros organization for nine seasons, making his major league debut on August 7, 2012. He was traded, along with Jordan Lyles, to the Rockies for Dexter Fowler in December 2013. In 311 major league games to date, he has hit .242/.286/.365.

7. SS Timothy Johnson (HS) - Released in 2007

Johnson played for three seasons in the Astros system, followed by three years in independent ball. He ended his career with a .209/.283/.281 batting line in 278 games.

8. 3B Koby Clemens (HS) - Left as a Free Agent in 2011

Clemens, once considered a top prospect in the organization, went from third base to catcher to first base to corner infielder during his seven seasons with the Astros. After leaving in free agency at the end of 2011, he signed with the Blue Jays organization in 2012. After his release in September 2012, he signed with the Independent League Sugar Land Skeeters where he has played at catcher through the 2014 season. In 10 total seasons, he has hit .257/.353/.451.

9. RHP Jordan Meaker (HS) - Did not sign

Meeker was drafted by the Diamondbacks and played two seasons in that organization before his release in October 2009. In 55 games, he had a 4.08 ERA and a 1.557 WHIP.

10. OF Allen Langdon (HS) - Released in 2007

Langdon played in the Astros system for two seasons and one additional season in independent ball in 2008 and ended his career with a .249/.335/.352 batting line.

11. LHP Cory Lapinski (C) - Released after 2006 season

Lapinski pitched in the organization for two seasons and had a very brief stint in independent ball in 2009, ending with a 4.32 ERA and a 1.467 WHIP.

12. RHP Tip Fairchild (C) - Released and left via free agency in 2009

Fairchild pitched for the Astros for parts of five seasons, around his 2007 Tommy John surgery and was released by the Astros in March of 2009. After pitching in 24 games in independent ball that year, he was re-signed by the organization and pitched in another eight games before being granted free agency in November 2009. He ended his career with a 4.73 ERA and a 1.353 WHIP in 104 games.

13. SS Eric King (C) - Released in 2007

King played for three seasons in the system before being released in December 2007. He ended his career with a .254/.321/.326 batting line in 248 games.

14. 1B Mark Ori (C) - Released in 2010

Ori played for six seasons in the organization and one more in independent ball after his November 2010 release. In 696 career games, he hit .278/.349/.389.

15. RHP Eric Sheridan (JC) - Released in 2006

Sheridan only appeared in 18 games in 2005 (5.44 ERA and 1.583 WHIP) prior to his his May 2006 release by the Astros, but went on to pitch another couple of seasons in the Oakland organization. He also pitched in independent league ball in 2008, 2009 and 2013, ending his career with a 5.03 ERA and a 1.609 WHIP in 302.2 innings.

16. OF Aaron Bulkley (C) - Released after the 2006 season

Bulkley played in the Astros organization for two seasons and then played one season in independent ball, ending with a .222/.317/.310 batting line.

17. C Andrew Kroeker (C) - Released after the 2006 season

Kroeker spent two seasons in the Astros system, ending with a .242/.329/.371 line in only 24 games.

18. RHP Brian Needham (HS) - Did not sign

Needham was re-drafted by the Mets in the 28th round in 2009 and played in that organization for two seasons with a 5.70 ERA and a 1.796 WHIP.

19. RHP Drew Himes (C) - Released after 2005 season

Himes pitched only one season for the Astros (6.37 ERA and 1.528 WHIP) and then played three additional seasons in independent ball. He had a lifetime 5.61 ERA and 1.514 WHIP.

20. RHP Ryan Mitchell (HS) - Released in 2007

Mitchell was released in 2007 after two seasons for the Greeneville Astros and went on to play eight seasons in independent ball. He was still active in 2014 and had a lifetime 4.64 ERA and 1.401 WHIP.

21. LHP Scott Sarver (C) - Released in 2006

Sarver was released during the 2006 season and went on to play in independent ball in 2006 and 2007, ending his career with a 4.20 ERA and 1.536 WHIP.

22. OF T.J. Steele (HS) - Did not sign

Steele did not sign in 2005, but did sign in 2008. He was released by the Astros in May 2012 and then signed on briefly with the Padres organization before being released by them in July 2012. In the 327 games of his career, he hit .247/.284/.379.

23. LHP Chris Blazek (C) - Released in 2010

Blazek pitched in the organization from 2005 through 2010, missing the 2009 season after suffering a torn labrum. He was released in late 2010 and ended with a 4.20 ERA and a 1.407 WHIP.

24. RHP Sean Walker (C) - Released in 2009

Walker pitched in the Astros system for four seasons before his release in March 2009. He had a 5.15 ERA and a 1.509 WHIP.

25. LHP Jacob Hurry (C) - Released in 2007

Hurry was released in 2007 after spending two seasons in the organization with a 4.69 ERA and a 1.302 WHIP.

26. 3B Michael Thompson (C) - Released in 2006

Thompson played in the Astros organization until his release in August 2006, spent one season in the Royals organization and has since played several seasons in independent ball. Through 2014, he has a .270/.321/.423 batting line.

27. RHP Matt Luca (C) - Did not sign

Luca went on to play his senior year for the University of Nevada at Las Vegas in 2006 and never played in affiliated baseball.

28. 2B Eric Baker (C) - Did not sign

Baker was drafted as a senior out of Mansfield University in Pennsylvania. He did not sign and it appears that he never played professionally.

29. RHP Jamie Gant (C) - Released after the 2006 season

Gant had a 4.35 ERA and a 1.449 WHIP in 51 games pitched over two seasons in the Astros system.

30. RHP Matt Hirsh (C) - Released in 2006

Hirsch was released in Spring 2006 after pitching only one season in the organization. He went on to pitch another two seasons in independent ball and ended his career with a 6.80 ERA and a 1.819 WHIP.

31. RHP Brad Stone (C) - Did not sign

Stone was drafted by the Marlins in the 12th round in 2006 and played five seasons in that organization and one more in independent ball in 2011, finishing off his career with a 4.03 ERA and a 1.349 WHIP.

32. 1B Cole Graham (JC) - Released in 2006

Graham played one season in the Astros system and one in independent ball in 2007, hitting a not-so-robust .201/.282/.288.

33. RHP Reid Kelly (HS) - Released in 2009

Drafted in 2005 as a DFE (draft, follow and evaluate) player, he did not sign with the Astros until May of 2006. He played in the system until his release in July 2009, sat out 2010, played in the White Sox organization in 2011 and in independent ball in 2012. In 133 games, he had a 3.89 ERA and a 1.267 WHIP.

34. OF Nathan Warrick (C) - Released in 2007

Warrick played two seasons in the organization and one in independent ball in 2007, hitting .274/.368/.316 in 143 games.

35. OF Andy Darnell (JC) - Released in 2008

Darnell was another DFE who did not sign until May 2006. He played two seasons in the system, ending his career with a .219/.289/.334 batting line.

36. OF Matt Cunningham (C) - Released after the 2006 season

Cunningham played for two seasons in the Astros system, hitting .245/.367/.379 in 141 games.

37. RHP Matt Bishop (C) - Did not sign

Bishop returned to Endicott College for his senior year, was not re-drafted and does not appear to ever have played professionaly.

38. RHP Mike Colla (HS) - Did not sign

Colla was subsequently drafted by the Pirates in the 14th round in 2008 and played in that system until his release in March 2013. After playing independent ball in 2013, Colla was picked up by the Rays organization in June 2013 and played in their system through 2014. He is currently a minor league free agent with a career 3.99 ERA and a 1.313 WHIP.

39. RHP Zachary Williams (JC) - Did not sign

Williams was drafted by the Astros in the 39th round in 2004 out of high school and again in the same round in 2005 out of junior college. He did not sign and it does not appear that he ever played professionally.

40. OF Collin Fanning (JC) - Did not sign

Fanning was re-drafted by the Cardinals in the 36th round in 2007 and only played one season in that organization, hitting .159/.266/.217.

41. OF Casey McClesky (JC) - Did not sign

McCleskey was drafted by the Astros in the 41st round in 2004 out of high school and again in the 41st round in 2005 out of junior college. He did not sign and it does not appear that he ever played professionally.

42. RHP Brandon Stricklen (C) - Released after the 2006 season

Stricklen played two seasons in the Astros system and ended with a 5.09 ERA and a 1.537 WHIP in 51 games.

43. RHP Jacob Hower (JC) - Did not sign

Hower went on to attend Fresno State, but was not re-drafted and does not appear to have ever played professionally.

44. LHP Nick Cobbler (JC) - Did not sign

Cobbler was drafted by the Astros in the 34th round in 2004 out of high school, in the 44th round in 2005 out of junior college and then was re-drafted by the Twins in 2007 out of another community college. He never signed and does not appear to have ever played professionally.

45. RHP Craig Herrforth (HS) - Did not sign

Herrforth was not re-drafted and does not appear to have ever played professionally.

46. LHP Wes Musick (HS) - Did not sign

Musick went on to be drafted in the 24th round out of the University of Houston by the Giants in 2008 (did not sign) and in the 9th round in 2009 by the Rockies for whom he played until his December 2010 trade (along with RHP Jonnathan Aristil) to the Astros for RHP Matt Lindstrom. He played in the Astros system until his release after the 2013 season, having missed large parts of the 2012 and 2013 seasons due to injury. He ended his career with a 3.82 ERA and a 1.276 WHIP.

Previous draft reviews:

2007 Draft
2008 Draft
2009 Draft
2010 Draft
2012 Draft

Happy Birthday - 11/20

No future Astros with birthdays today, but one former Astro celebrates the day ~

RHP C.J. "Don't Call me Chuckie" Fick (28)
A 15th round pick by the Cardinals in 2007, Fick was selected by Houston off waivers from St. Louis in July 2012. In 18 appearances for the Astros in 2012, he had a 4.30 ERA and a 1.783 WHIP. After a handful of appearances for Oklahoma City in 2013, Fick was released by Houston in June 2013. In 2014, he appeared in a handful of games for Tabasco in the Mexican League early in the season. Chuckie Fick should go down in history as the name most likely to get a tongue-tied broadcaster in a lot of trouble.

Tweet of the Day

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Happy Birthday - 11/19

No future Astros with birthdays today, but one former Astro was born on this day ~

RHP Aurelio Monteagudo (died November 10, 1990 at age 46)
The Cuban-born Monteagudo was purchased by Houston from the Kansas City Athletics in May 1966 and pitched in 10 games for Houston that season with a 4.70 ERA and a 1.630 WHIP.

Tweet of the Day

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Astros Fall and Winter League Recaps

Results for Monday, November 17, 2014

LIDOM

Estrellas 4, Águilas 1

This game was originally scheduled for November 4, but was rained out that day. 

Jonathan Villar finished 2-3 and opened up the scoring with a solo shot in the 3rd, his 3rd home run of the season. That turned out to be the only run that Águilas could muster up. 

Águilas' homestand concludes as they host Escogido, who is currently occupying the bottom of the LIDOM table. First pitch is at 7:30 Atlantic.

LIGA DE BÉISBOL PROFESIONAL ROBERTO CLEMENTE

Santurce 7, Mayagüez 2

This game was also rained out on November 4. Santurce busted out in the top of the 6th with 5 runs.

For the Crabbers, Delino DeShields went 3-5 with a double and 2 runs scored.

These two teams will play again tonight; the only difference is a change of venue. First pitch is at 7:30 Atlantic.