Saturday, October 27, 2012

Arizona Fall and Winter League Recaps - 10/26

ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE

Mesa over Scottsdale 8-4
Mesa really needed this win. They had lost nine in a row after recording their last win on October 13th. RHP Jarred Cosart got the start and allowed two runs on four hits and two walks with three strikeouts in three innings pitched. He was followed by RHP Nick Tropeano who provided a scoreless inning of relief, walking one and striking out one as he lowered his ERA to 2.25. RHP Chia-Jen Lo got the win in relief as he allowed only one hit over one and a third innings. CF George Springer was 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts, and he scored a run. 1B Jon Singleton was 2-for-5 with a double, an RBI triple, and scored two runs.

Today's Game - Salt River (8-7) at Mesa (4-11) at 2:35 CST

VENEZUELAN WINTER LEAGUE

La Guaira over Aragua 4-3
2B Jose Martinez was 0-for-2 with two walks for Aragua.

DOMINICAN WINTER LEAGUE

All games postponed.

MEXICAN PACIFIC WINTER LEAGUE

Hermosillo over Navajoa 1-0
Garrett Mock got his first start and second win for Hermosillo as he pitched five shutout innings with two hits, three walks and four strikeouts. He has not allowed a run in four appearances.

Happy Birthday - 10/27

C Carlos Perez (22)
Perez was one of the players obtained in the 10-player megatrade with the Blue Jays in July 2012. In 26 games for Lancaster, following the trade, he hit .318/.368/.409 and boasted a 47% caught stealing rate. His combined batting line for the season was .285/.360/.438.

3B Darwin Rivera (21)
A non-drafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic, Rivera first played for the DSL Astros in 2010 in only one game.  In 2011, he played in 12 games for DSL before getting promoted to Greeneville where he finished out the season. He spent this season with the GCL Astros with terrific results as he batted .310/.373/.440.

One former Astro with a birthday today ~

LHP Eric Bell (49)
Originally drafted by the Orioles in the ninth round in 1982, Bell signed with Houston as a free agent in 1993. In 10 appearances for the Astros that year, he was 0-1 with a 6.14 ERA and a 1.636 WHIP.

Tweet of the Day

Nick Tropeano

It makes you feel tough in the morning when you tell your alarm to "shut up" while you smash snooze.

2012/2013 Astros Off-Season Transactions

Updated through 4/1/13.
The 40-Man Roster stands at 40.

NEW TO THE ASTROS ORGANIZATION

ADDED TO THE TEAM AND THE 40-MAN ROSTER
OF Che-Hsuan Lin - waiver claim from the Red Sox; DFA'd to make room for John Ely
2B/SS Jake Elmore - waiver claim from the Diamondbacks; outrighted to OKC
RHP Sam Demel - waiver claim from the Diamondbacks; claimed off waivers by the Yankees
RHP Phillip Humber - waiver claim from the White Sox
RHP Alex White - trade with the Rockies for Wilton Lopez; put on 60-day DL prior to season
RHP Josh Fields - drafted from Boston in the Rule 5 draft
1B Nate Freiman - drafted from San Diego in the Rule 5 draft - claimed off waivers by Oakland
1B Carlos Pena - free agent signing
RHP John Ely - trade with the Dodgers for Rob Rasmussen; outrighted to OKC
RHP Jose Veras - free agent signing
RHP Brad Peacock - trade with the A's for Jed Lowrie and Fernando Rodriguez
1B Chris Carter - trade with the A's for Jed Lowrie and Fernando Rodriguez
SS Ronny Cedeno - free agent signing

OBTAINED IN TRADE (MINOR LEAGUE) WITH ST INVITE
C Max Stassi - trade with the A's for Jed Lowrie and Fernando Rodriguez

OUTRIGHTED TO OKLAHOMA CITY
*OF Che-Hsuan Lin - Extended a non-roster ST invite

OBTAINED IN TRADE (MINOR LEAGUE)
RHP Alex Gillingham - from the Rockies
RHP Ricky Martinez - from the Cardinals for cash consideration
RHP Gonzalo Sanudo - from the Twins for Mike Kvasnicka

FA SIGNED TO A MINOR LEAGUE CONTRACT W/ST INVITE
OF Trevor Crowe
C Jason Jaramillo
OF Rick Ankiel - added to the 40-man roster
LHP Erik Bedard - added to the 40-man roster

MINOR LEAGUE PHASE OF THE RULE 5 DRAFT
OF Michael Burgess - drafted from the Cubs
RHP Cameron Lamb - drafted from the Giants

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC FREE AGENT SIGNINGS
C Oliver Toribio
RHP Joselo Pinales
LHP Junior Garcia

SIGNED AS A MINOR LEAGUE FREE AGENT
2B Carlos Perdomo
C Cody Clark
OF Raoul Torrez
RHP Gerardo Ramirez

NO LONGER IN THE ASTROS ORGANIZATION

TRADED
*RHP Wilton Lopez - traded to the Rockies
LHP Rob Rasmussen - traded to the Dodgers
SS Jed Lowrie - traded to the A's
RHP Fernando Rodriguez - traded to the A's
C/OF Mike Kvasnicka - traded to the Twins

OPTION NOT EXERCISED
*C Chris Snyder - signed by the Nationals

WAIVER CLAIMS
*OF Jordan Schafer - Claimed by the Braves
*OF Arcenio Leon - Claimed by the Brewers
*RHP Mickey Storey - Claimed by the Yankees (Reclaimed by the Astros) (Claimed by the Blue Jays)

LOST TO FREE AGENCY
*LHP Fernando Abad
RHP Erick Abreu
2B Brian Bixler
*OF Brian Bogusevic
LF Travis Buck
RHP Enerio del Rosario
RHP Dayan Diaz
*IF Matt Downs
C Jair Fernandez
RHP Adalberto Flores
1B Mike Hessman
C Landon Powell
RHP Garrett Mock
*IF Scott Moore
RHP Sergio Perez
RHP Aneury Rodriguez
RHP Brian Sanches
SS Angel Sanchez
*OF J.B. Shuck
OF Brad Snyder
RHP Jose Trinidad

RELEASED
RHP Yoiner Angulo
OF Adam Bailey
RHP Francisco Baso
LHP Ricardo Batista
RHP Frangy Colon
OF Johan Tomas de la Cruz
RHP Steven Dennison
C Kenny Diaz
LHP Brad Dydalewicz
RHP Blake Ford
LHP Gabriel Garcia
SS Tyler Greene
RHP Zack Grimmett
RHP Mark Hamburger
C Ben Heath
IF John Hinson
SS Jimmy Howick
UT Neiko Johnson
OF Emilio King
2B Jordan Kreke
OF Jarrod McKinney
LHP Jeremiah Meiners
RHP Daniel Meszaros
RHP Juan Mojica
LHP Kilby Pena
RHP Nate Pettus
C Franny Polanco
RHP Brad Propst
RHP Rodney Quintero
3B Kyle Redinger
OF Garen Wright

RETIRED
OF Drew Locke
SS Alex Todd
LHP Scott Zuloaga

OTHER MOVES

ADDED TO THE 40-MAN ROSTER IN ADVANCE OF THE RULE 5 DRAFT
RHP Jose Cisnero
RHP Jarred Cosart
OF Robbie Grossman
RHP Chia-Jen Lo
LHP Brett Oberholtzer
RHP Ross Seaton
SS Jonathan Villar

OUTRIGHTED TO OKLAHOMA CITY
RHP Kyle Weiland (was on the 60-day DL)
*RHP Chuckie Fick - Extended a non-roster ST invite
*3B/1B Brandon Laird - Extended a non-roster ST invite

RE-SIGNED TO MINOR LEAGUE CONTRACT W/ST INVITE
*RHP Edgar Gonzalez - Added to the 40-man roster
*RHP Jose Valdez
LHP Sergio Escalona
2B Jose Martinez

FREE AGENT RE-SIGNED TO MINOR LEAGUE CONTRACT
*RHP Jorge de Leon

CURRENT FREE AGENTS
*LHP Fernando Abad - signed with the Nationals
RHP Erick Abreu - signed to play in Mexico
2B Brian Bixler - signed with the Mets
*OF Brian Bogusevic - signed with the Cubs
LF Travis Buck - signed with the Padres
*RHP Enerio del Rosario - playing for Monclova in the Mexican League
RHP Dayan Diaz - signed with the Cubs
*IF Matt Downs - signed with the Marlins
C Jair Fernandez - signed with the Cubs
RHP Adalberto Flores - signed to play in Mexico
1B Mike Hessman - signed with the Reds
OF Drew Locke - retired
RHP Garrett Mock - signed with the Diamondbacks
*IF Scott Moore - signed with the A's
RHP Sergio Perez - signed with the A's
C Landon Powell - signed with the Mets
RHP Aneury Rodriguez - signed with the Samsung Lions of the Korean league
RHP Brian Sanches - signed with the Royals
SS Angel Sanchez - signed with the Angels
*OF J.B. Shuck - asked for and granted release; signed with Angels
OF Brad Snyder - signed with the Diamondbacks
RHP Jose Trinidad - signed with the Frontier League Normal Cornbelters
RHP Henry Villar - out of baseball (unconfirmed)

*Removed from the 40-man roster

Friday, October 26, 2012

Arizona Fall and Winter League Recaps - 10/25

ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE

Peoria over Mesa 8-2
RF George Springer was 1-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout. He also stole his third base of the season. 1B Jon Singleton was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and 3B Bobby Borchering was also 0-for-4. LHP Alex Sogard struggled on Thursday as a single and two walks combined with a hit batter, a wild pitch and a passed ball resulted in a big inning. Before all was said and done, Sogard was charged with four earned runs over one and a third innings. He struck out one.

Today's Game - Mesa (3-11) at Scottsdale (8-7) at 2:35 CST. Jarred Cosart is scheduled to start for Mesa.

VENEZUELAN WINTER LEAGUE

La Guaira over Caracas 6-4
Brandon Barnes was 2-for-5 with a two-run home run for Caracas as he got a rare start in left field last night.

Caribes over Magallanes 7-1
For Magallanes, LHP Gabriel Garcia only faced one batter and only gave up a single. Unfortunately, the bases were loaded at the time and all three men scored.

DOMINICAN WINTER LEAGUE

All games postponed. I haven't forgotten about the Dominican league, but a large number of games have been postponed the last few days and there simply hasn't been anything to report.

Happy Birthday - 10/26

RHP Michael Dimock (23)
Drafted in the 37th round in 2012 out of Wake Forest, Dimock spent his first professional season with the Greeneville Astros. In 20 appearances, he had a 4.20 ERA, a 1.167 WHIP and a very nice 10.8 SO/9. Dimock had one particularly bad outing that skewed his numbers -- erase that outing and his ERA drops to 2.73 for the other 19.

Tweet of the Day

Zach Johnson

We all have problems.. Some of ours are just different then others. 
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Thursday, October 25, 2012

The 40-Man Roster and the Rule 5 Draft - Pt. 2

Yesterday I took a look at some of the players who may need to come off the 40-man roster in order to provide room to protect current Astros players who are now Rule 5 eligible and to give Jeff Luhnow room to add one or two Rule 5 draftees of his own (keeping in mind that the Astros have the first selection). Let's take a look at some of the higher profile players who will merit consideration for a 40-man roster spot.

PITCHERS
Since players taken in the Rule 5 draft have to remain on the drafting team's 25-man roster for the full season*, pitchers are taken much more frequently than position players simply because it's fairly easy to use a pitcher sparingly out of the bullpen. Position players can't be tucked away quite so neatly if they struggle. With that said, here are five pitchers who are newly eligible for the Rule 5 draft who merit consideration for a roster spot.

RHP Jarred Cosart/Starter - Cosart projects as a front of the rotation starter with his high octane fastball and "electric stuff." Despite some blister issues, he had a successful 2012 season and handled his promotion to AAA well. For the season, he was 6-7 with a 3.30 ERA and a 1.395 WHIP. I cannot see any scenario in which he is NOT placed on the 40-man roster.

LHP Brett Oberholtzer/Starter - Oberholtzer had the most experience at AAA of any of my candidates and he will certainly be in the mix for a possible spot in the rotation as he heads to spring training next February. Despite the infusion of talent into the Astros system in 2012, Oberholtzer is still on Jonathan Mayo's top prospect list, albeit he dropped to number 20 out of 20. Between Corpus Christi and Oklahoma City in 2012, he was 10-10 with a 4.37 ERA and a 1.356 WHIP and he was a workhorse, throwing the second most innings in the Astros minor league system. I don't think Jeff Luhnow added so many lefties via trade this year just to let one slip away via the Rule 5 draft. I think he will be protected, but then I thought he would be a September call-up, so what do I know?

RHP Jose Cisnero/Starter - Cisnero isn't a high profile name for most casual Astros fans, but he had a very good season at Corpus Christi leading to a call-up to Oklahoma City for eight games. For the season, he was 13-7 with a 3.70 ERA and a 1.409 WHIP. He didn't pitch as strongly at Oklahoma City as Cosart and Oberholtzer, and I don't see him quite as close to major league ready as those two, but someone may see his strong strikeout numbers and take a chance on him in a bullpen role. I wouldn't be surprised if the Astros protected him in the Rule 5 draft, but I also wouldn't be too terribly surprised if they didn't. It will be a calculated risk.

RHP Ross Seaton/Starter - Despite strong steps forward in 2012, Seaton is the least major league ready of these four starters (in my opinion). He only started four games at AAA in 2012 and, although he pitched well there, I can't really see him being taken in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft. He ended the season with an 8-9 record with a 3.93 ERA and a 1.281 WHIP. I don't think he'll be protected on the 40-man roster, but will be put on the AAA reserve list.

RHP Jason Stoffel/Reliever - Stoffel led the Astros minor league system in saves (27) and appearances (56) while compiling a 2.33 ERA and an extremely stingy WHIP of 0.983 at AA Corpus Christi. I think the only reason Stoffel did not get promoted to AAA during the 2012 season was because Corpus was in a pennant race and he was too valuable to lose. Personally, I would absolutely protect Stoffel on the 40-man roster because I think he's the most major league ready reliever in the organization who's not already on the 40-man.

POSITION PLAYERS
As I noted above, position players are not taken as often as pitchers in the Rule 5 draft. Those who are taken are usually very close to being major league ready. But even if a player isn't ready for the bigs, leaving a top prospect unprotected could prove too tempting for other teams. Here are four players who are newly eligible for the Rule 5 draft who may merit consideration for the 40-man roster.

SS Jonathan Villar - Villar is still raw and is most decidedly not ready for prime time, but he is still one of the top prospects in the organization. Add to that the broken hand he suffered last season which limited him to 86 games. If he is not protected on the 40-man roster, he will at least be put on the AAA reserve list so that he would have to be taken in the major league portion of the draft. Are the Astros willing to take a chance? I don't think so, but we'll soon see. Villar hit .261/.336/.396 with 39 stolen bases. He also had a .938 fielding percentage and committed 24 errors.

OF Marc Krauss - Krauss was a top 20 prospect in the Diamondbacks organization coming in to the 2012 season. He had a great season with AA Mobile and AA Corpus Christi before stumbling at AAA Oklahoma City. His overall batting line for 2012 was .271/.397/.491 with 31 doubles, two triples and twenty home runs. Although there are some doubts about his bat, the lefty has a very high upside. It might be a risk to leave him unprotected.

CF Robbie Grossman - Grossman hasn't played beyond AA yet, but he was one of the top 10 prospects in the Pirates organization coming in to the 2012 season. In 2012, he hit .266/.376/.410 with 28 doubles, six triples and 10 home runs. I don't particularly think he's in danger of being taken in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft as he hasn't played beyond AA yet, but I think he will be given consideration and at least placed on the AAA reserve list.

C Carlos Perez - Although Perez has not played one game above High A, I would think twice about leaving him exposed to the Rule 5 draft. Currently listed as #18 by Jonathan Mayo in the Astros system, Perez profiles to have the highest upside offensively and defensively of any catcher in the organization. I know it's  unlikely that anyone would take him in the major league portion of the draft, but if there is even a remote possibility I would protect him.

OTHER PLAYERS
There are some other interesting players who are eligible to be taken in the Rule 5 draft this year, one or more of whom may need to be protected on the 40-man roster, including RHP Chia-Jen Lo, RHP Carlos Quevedo, RHP Josh Zeid, SS Ben Orloff, OF Jake Goebbert and others. Obviously, not everyone can be protected on the 40-man roster. Some players will be added to the 38-man AAA reserve list so that they will not be subject to the minor league phases of the Rule 5 draft. If those AAA reserve players are drafted, it will have to be in the major league phase of the draft in which case the players will have to remain on the drafting team's 25-man roster for the whole season*. So the Astros will have to determine which players are more likely to "stick" with another team as they make those decisions.

Rosters will have to be set by November 20th in advance of the Rule 5 draft. And for the first time in while, it may be a difficult proposition for the Astros to protect all of the players who are potentially going to be a part of this team's future. And that, my friends, is not a bad thing. Not at all!

*If the player doesn't stay on the 25-man roster, he will have to be put through waivers. If claimed, the new team will be subject to the same conditions regarding that player. If not claimed, the player will be offered back to the team from which they were drafted.

Arizona Fall and Winter League Recaps - 10/24

ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE

Scottsdale over Mesa 4-3
All of the rest of the Astros prospects got the day off except for SS Jio Mier. Mier represented nicely as he went 2-for-4 with two doubles, an RBI and a strikeout. He is hitting .278/.333/.444 in five games.

Today's Game - Peoria (10-4) at Mesa (3-10) at 2:35 CST

VENEZUELAN WINTER LEAGUE

Margarita over Caracas 3-2
CF Brandon Barnes was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts for Caracas. Barnes has been struggling a bit in his first 11 games as he is hitting .220/.292/.293 with only one extra base hit, a home run.

Aragua over Caribes 8-1
2B Jose Martinez went 1-for-3 with a sac fly RBI for Aragua. He is currently hitting .256/.313/.349 in 11 games.

Happy Birthday - 10/25

3B Bobby Borchering (22)
A first round draft pick by Arizona in 2009, Borchering came to the Astros organization, along with Marc Krauss, in the July 2012 trade that sent Chris Johnson to the Diamondbacks. He hit very well for the Arizona's Hi-A affiliate, but started off slow in his transition to AA for Arizona and then for Houston. His combined line for the season was .236/.303/.453 with 28 doubles, two triples and 24 home runs. He is currently playing in the Arizona Fall League and is hitting .120/.185/.280 in seven games.

Former Astros with birthdays today

RHP Danny "Dr. Death" Darwin a.k.a. The Bonham Bullet (57)
Darwin came to Houston in an August 1986 trade with the Brewers. Nicknamed Dr. Death by teammate Nolan Ryan, Danny Darwin spent 21 seasons in the major leagues, playing for eight different teams.  For his career, he had a 3.84 ERA and a 1.268 WHIP.  Dr. Death was with Houston from 1986 to 1990, during which time he had a 47-35 record with a 3.21 ERA and a 1.164 WHIP.  His most successful season was 1990 when he led the National League in ERA, WHIP and BB/9.

From Wikipedia:
It was a source of debate amongst Astros players and fans over who would win in a fight, Ryan or Darwin. Though Astros pitcher Bob Knepper attempted to set up a fight between the two during spring training in 1988, manager Hal Lanier stopped it before it could commence. Many experts, including Astros shortstop Rafael Ramirez, felt that Darwin would win because he "looked like someone no man would want to mess with."
LHP Skip Guinn (68)
Guinn first came to Houston in April 1969 for the Expos. In 32 games for the Astros in 1969 and 1971, he was 1-2 with a 5.68 ERA and a 1.863 WHIP.

Tweet of the Day

Rob Rasmussen

For as much as I wanted to see verlander dominate, it's comforting knowing even the best have bad days

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The 40-Man Roster and the Rule 5 Draft - Pt. 1

The Astros will soon be looking to make changes to the 40-Man Roster in advance of the Rule 5 draft. The deadline for making changes to the roster will be in the latter part of November and the Rule 5 draft is scheduled for December 6th. Changes will have to be made to: a) give Jeff Luhnow the flexibility to pick up a player or two as he did with Marwin Gonzalez and Rhiner Cruz in 2011, and b) protect players vulnerable to the draft.

First, let's look at the existing 40-Man Roster which is currently full to bursting with 40 players, plus two players on the 60-day disabled list. Although those on the 60-day DL don't count against the 40-Man Roster, you do have to consider what will happen if/when Weiland and Escalona come off the DL because someone will have to go at that point.

PITCHERS
LHP Fernando Abad
RHP Hector Ambriz
LHP Xavier Cedeno
RHP Paul Clemens
RHP Rhiner Cruz
RHP Jorge de Leon
RHP Enerio del Rosario
LHP Sergio Escalona - 60-day DL
RHP Chuckie Fick
RHP Edgar Gonzalez
RHP Lucas Harrell
LHP Dallas Keuchel
RHP Arcenio Leon
RHP Wilton Lopez
RHP Jordan Lyles
RHP Bud Norris
LHP Rudy Owens
RHP Fernando Rodriguez
RHP Mickey Storey
RHP Jose Valdez
RHP Kyle Weiland - 60-day DL
LHP Wesley Wright

Of the pitchers on the 40-man, I think those most in jeopardy of losing a spot are going to be relief pitchers. With that said, there are two pitchers who I feel are the most vulnerable.

I will be very surprised if Arcenio Leon keeps a spot on the 40-man. Leon had a decent season at AA, but after a full two seasons at Corpus, he has yet to really distinguish himself and there are others waiting in the wings for that opportunity.

Jorge de Leon has great stuff, but he had a tough year at Lancaster in 2012 as the great "de Leon as a starter" experiment proved to be an abject failure. Back in the bullpen, he did fairly well considering his propensities as a flyball pitcher in an unforgiving ballpark. But once again, you may need to weigh the fact that he is now 25 and hasn't pitched above Hi-A with the fact that there may be other higher ceiling pitchers who are in greater need of protection from the draft.

I think it is also at least possible that one more right-handed relief pitcher may come off the roster whether it is Chuckie Fick, Enerio del Rosario or even possibly Jose Valdez (although I'm higher on Valdez than many). Depending on Sergio Escalona's health, we might see a lefty come off as well, but I think that will be more unlikely. Finally, if any of the starting pitchers were removed from the roster, I would think that Edgar Gonzalez could draw the short straw as he enters his first year of arbitration eligibility this year.

CATCHERS
*Jason Castro
#Carlos Corporan
Chris Snyder

Depending upon whether or not the Astros want to keep Chris Snyder, I wouldn't be surprised to see either Corporan or Snyder removed from the 40-man roster. Keep in mind that removing Corporan from the 40-man roster doesn't mean that the Astros can't re-sign him to a minor league deal as they've done with him previously.

INFIELDERS
Jose Altuve
Matt Dominguez
Matt Downs
#Marwin Gonzalez
Tyler Greene
Brandon Laird
#Jed Lowrie
*Scott Moore
*Brett Wallace

I would be very surprised to see Matt Downs remain on the 40-man roster in light of some of the other players who will need to be protected from the draft. Beyond that, I won't even hazard a guess since my Jeff Luhnow mind-reader is on the fritz.

OUTFIELDERS
Brandon Barnes
*Brian Bogusevic
*Fernando Martinez
J.D. Martinez
Justin Maxwell
#Jimmy Paredes
*Jordan Schafer
*J.B. Shuck

I have absolutely no idea what's going to happen with the outfield either. I think Shuck may be the odd man out since he profiles more as a bench player than a starter. But beyond that, I simply do not know how things will play out, particularly with Brian Bogusevic and Jordan Schafer.

*Bats Left
#Switch Hitter

These are obviously only guesses and I'm often wrong about the thinking of the front office, but I cannot see any way around cutting several players from the 40-man roster in order to give the team the flexibility they are going to need. Tomorrow (if I finish writing it by then), I'll look at those players that I feel are most susceptible to being taken in the Rule 5 draft and, therefore, most in need of being protected on the 40-man roster.

Arizona Fall and Winter League Recaps - 10/23

ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE

Mesa at Phoenix tied 7-7 in 11 innings
CF George Springer was 1-for-5 with two strikeouts and DH Jon Singleton went 0-for-4 with a walk and three strikeouts. RHP Nick Tropeano pitched the sixth inning and gave up no hits, no runs, one walk and recorded one strikeout. In five appearances, he has a 2.57 ERA and a 0.714 WHIP. LHP Alex Sogard came in to pitch the seventh inning with a 6-2 lead. A walk, reached on error, single and a blast later, he was charged with a blown save as Marlins prospect Kyle Jensen took him deep. RHP Chia-Jen Lo pitched the 10th inning and gave up no hits, one walk and struck out two.

Today's Game - Scottsdale (6-7) at Mesa (3-9) at 2:35 CST

VENEZUELAN WINTER LEAGUE

I saw this tweet from Gabriel Garcia before I saw the Zulia-Caracas boxscore. Even with my limited Spanish comprehension, I figured this one out.


Wow Dios mio zulia le voltio el juego a leones . No se acaba el juego hasta el ultimo out


Zulia over Caracas 8-5
Zulia came back from a 5-1 deficit to score seven runs in the top of the ninth to win ... all runs scoring on two outs. As Garcia tweeted, it is not over until the final out. The beneficiary of this scoring largesse was Astros RHP Arcenio Leon who was awarded the win in relief. He pitched the eighth inning and allowed one hit, no runs and one walk. For Caracas, Brandon Barnes was 0-for-3 with a strikeout and an RBI sac fly.

Caribes over Aragua 11-5
2B Jose Martinez went 1-for-4 with a two-run home run for Aragua.

Happy Birthday - 10/24

RHP Jesus Castillo (21)
Castillo was signed as a NDFA and joined the 2012 DSL team in progress. In six appearances in August, he pitched 11.1 innings with a 2.38 ERA and a 1.412 WHIP.

Also, Darryl Robinson, hitting coach for Lancaster turns 45 today.

One former Astro with a birthday today ~

RHP Mark Grant (49)
A first round pick by the Giants in 1981, Grant signed with Houston as a free agent in January of 1993. Less than four months later, he was traded to the Rockies. In the interim, he pitched in 6 games for the Astros with a 0.82 ERA and a 1.455 WHIP.

Tweet of the Day

Brady Rodgers

  in a few years, the World Series will be filled with a lot of future Astros!” You know it!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

An Interview with LHP Rudy Owens

I'll admit I was having a little trouble keeping all of Jeff Luhnow's trade acquisitions straight in my head at first, but when I saw this late July tweet with Rudy and his friend Ted in their matching T-Shirts, he no longer blended in with the rest of the pack (pun intended).

Rudy Owens
Gas station t-shirt!?! Don't mind if I do :)    @ on the road 
Embedded image permalink

Coming in to the 2012 season, Baseball America had him ranked as the #16 top prospect in the Pirates organization while Jonathan Mayo had him ranked at #12 at the time of the July 2012 trade which sent him to the Astros (along with LHP Colton Cain and OF Robbie Grossman) for LHP Wandy Rodriguez. Owens suffered from shoulder fatigue and reduced velocity in 2011 after being named Pirates minor league pitcher of the year in the two prior seasons.

In 2012, Owens made 19 starts for AAA Indianapolis in the International League, going 8-5 with a 3.14 ERA and a 1.168 WHIP before the trade. After the trade, he went 2-3 in eight starts for AAA Oklahoma City with a 4.34 ERA and a 1.268 WHIP.

I connected with Rudy via email and here is what he had to say ~

WTH: Can you tell me about your pitch repertoire? Also, how is your velocity overall since you were shut down with a tired shoulder in 2011?

RO: I throw a fastball, curveball, and change up. My fastball is anywhere between 88-91. I'll touch 92-93 depending on the day. I am known for fastball command so that's my biggest strength. My change up is my next best pitch -- it keeps the hitters honest. And the curve ball is more of a strikeout/show pitch. I don't think my shoulder being hurt last year had anything to do with my velocity drop this year because my shoulder is back to 100%.

WTH: Since I haven't seen you pitch yet, tell me what I will see on the mound when I do see you pitch.

RO: I am a fast working pitcher and I throw a lot of strikes. I don't strike many people out because I don't have over powering stuff, but I get a lot of contact. I would consider myself as a fly ball pitcher, but I am in the process of working on that by throwing my sinker a lot more.

WTH: I would imagine that getting traded away from the Pirates organization after playing for them for so many years had to be difficult. How did the transition go? Do you think your opportunities are better with the Astros or about the same?

RO: Yeah, getting traded was a little weird getting used to. I think the hardest part about it was leaving all of the friends I have made over the years and the close relationships I had with my teammates and coaches that I had been with for so long. It's hard to say about the opportunities because I still never got called up in September so it was a bit frustrating, but I am looking forward to going to Spring Training in 2013 and ready to win a spot in the rotation.

WTH: I've wanted to interview you ever since I saw your road trip tweets with Ted and the matching Wolf T-shirts. When looking into your history for this interview, I also found a picture of the perm you sported back in 2010 and read about the perm hat giveaway the next season. How do I put this? Are you funny, crazy or a little bit of both?

RO: (hahaha) I don't want to be a self proclaimed funny guy but I like to have a lot of fun and don't really care what people think about me when it comes to having a good time. I wouldn't consider myself boring by any means. And don't worry, the perm will be coming back. This last year was the first time I haven't done the perm since 2008 so I need to get back on it. Maybe it will give me that extra little edge that I need.

WTH: I know you haven't been in the organization very long, but of your fellow Astros pitchers that you've seen so far, who has a pitch you'd like to steal?

RO: I don't know. I would have to say anyone with feel of their breaking ball (haha) because I have a hard time with it, but it is getting there.

WTH: What would you do if you couldn't play baseball?

RO: I'll go back to school and probably do something with physical fitness, but I'll be playing baseball until I'm all old and gray.

WTH: How are you spending your off-season?

RO: I am spending the off-season in Arizona with my family.

WTH: Can you tell me something about yourself that most people don't know and might be surprised to hear?

RO: Sometimes when I get bored and sitting around the house I will pull out my cross-stitch and work on it. I have been cross-stitching for about 5 years since my mom taught me how. I became interested in it because I was always sitting around the house bored during the off season so it was something to occupy my time. It is very time consuming and addicting once you get started.

Thank you for your time, Rudy, and good luck in the 2013 season. I hope to see you in Houston at some point during the season. I think a 6'3" 230 lb. cross-stitching lefty with a perm and a teddy bear with a matching wolf T-shirt is just what the Astros fans need!

Arizona Fall and Winter League Updates - 10/22

ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE

Salt River over Mesa 5-4
1B Jon Singleton was 1-for-5 with no strikeouts and is now hitting .279. DH George Springer went 1-for-two with a double and a walk and is now hitting .304. He scored once in the fifth after a lead-off double and again in the ninth after reaching on a hit by pitch. Bobby Borchering is still struggling at the plate. He was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and is hitting only .120.

Today's Game - Mesa (3-9) at Phoenix (5-5) at 2:35 CST.

VENEZUELAN WINTER LEAGUE

Magallanes over La Guaira 8-2
Sergio Perez is having quite an off-season. In three starts for Magallanes, he is 3-0 with a 1.13 ERA and a 0.813 WHIP. On Monday, he allowed one run on four hits and a walk with four strikeouts over six innings. The one run allowed was on a solo home run.

All other winter league teams had the day off.

Happy Birthday - 10/23

No future Astros, only Former Astros with birthdays today ~

2B George Williams (died May 14, 2009 at age 69)
Drafted from the Phillies in the 1961 expansion draft, Williams played in only five games for the Colt 45's in 1962, hitting .375/.375/.500 in eight plate appearances.

RHP Bo McLaughlin (59)
A first round pick for the Astros in 1975, McLaughlin played for Houston from 1976 to 1979.  He had a 9-15 record over 87 appearances with a 3.90 ERA and a 1.352 WHIP.  He was traded to the Braves in 1979 for Frank LaCorte. In June 2012, he was made Pitching Coach of the Colorado Rockies.

2B Kazuo Matsui (37)
Matsui signed with Houston as a free agent in November 2007 and played for the Astros from 2008 until his release in May of 2010. In 255 games with Houston, he hit .259/.315/.370. After his release, he played briefly in the Rockies minor league system. He has played the last two seasons in Japan. Matsui was responsible for placing the phrase "anal fissure" in the lexicon of Astros lore. Thanks for that.

OF Ben Francisco (31)
Francisco came to Houston in the 10-player megatrade with the Blue Jays in July 2012 and departed via trade to Tampa Bay six weeks later. In the interim, he played in 31 games, hitting .247/.289/.365. Ah, Benny Fresh, we hardly knew ye.

Tweet of the Day

Travis Ballew

I never thought the  had a chance. I guess that's why they actually play the games 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Composition of the Astros System: Overview

Last week I looked at the minutiae of what makes up the Astros system. First I looked at Position Players and then I looked at Pitchers. Now let's put it all together. (All information includes both major league players and minor league players in the Astros system as of the end of the 2012 season. I may be missing one or two players but the underlying data should be pretty darned accurate.)

ASTROS PLAYERS (290)

PLACE OF BIRTH
166 - United States (31 states and the District of Columbia)*
70 - Dominican Republic
21 - Venezuela
13 - Puerto Rico
5 - Panama
4 - Colombia
3 - Nicaragua
1 - Brazil
1 - El Salvador
1 - Mexico
1 - Canada (Ontario)
1 - Taiwan
1 - Virgin Islands
1 - South Korea
1 - Australia

*U.S. Breakdown
35 - California
26 - Texas
19 - Florida
8 - Georgia
7 - Ohio
7 - Illinois
7 - Arizona
5 - Oklahoma
5 - South Carolina
5 - North Carolina
3 - New York
3 - Nebraska
3 - Pennsylvania
3 - Massachusetts
3 - Minnesota
3 - Washington
2 each - Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana, Maryland, New Mexico, Oregon, Virginia
1 each - Arkansas, Delaware, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Washington DC

WHEN/HOW SIGNED
The dates may be off on an occasional winter signing or a Latin free agent who did not play until the following year, but this should still serve to give you a general idea.
  • 2002 - Latin American Free Agent (1)
  • 2005 - Latin American Free Agents (4); Drafted (2 - 1 college & 1 community college)
  • 2006 - Latin American Free Agents (5); Drafted (2 college)
  • 2007 - Latin American Free Agents (6); Rule 5 (1)
  • 2008 - Drafted (11 - 6 high school, 4 college & 1 community college); Latin American Free Agents (11); Pacific Rim Free Agent (1); U.S. Non-Drafted Free Agent (1); Free Agent (1)
  • 2009 - Drafted (14 - 7 college & 7 high school); Latin American Free Agents (9); U.S. Non-Drafted Free Agents (2); Pacific Rim Free Agent (1); Free Agent (1); Trade (1); Waiver Claim (1)
  • 2010 - Drafted (22 - 11 college, 9 high school & 2 community college); Latin American Free Agents (20); Trades (6); Free Agents (3); U.S. Non-Drafted Free Agents (2); Rule 5 (1); Waiver Claim (1)
  • 2011 - Drafted (30 - 22 college, 4 community college & 4 high school); Latin American Free Agents (15); Trades (12); Free Agents (7); U.S. Non-Drafted Free Agents (4); Waiver Claims (3); Rule 5 (1); Rule 5/Trade (1)
  • 2012 - Drafted (31 - 23 college, 4 community college & 4 high school); Trades (21); Latin American Free Agents (16); Free Agents (10); Waiver Claims (4); U.S. Non-drafted Free Agents (4); Pacific Rim Free Agent (1)
Totals
70 - Drafted out of College
30 - Drafted out of High School
12 - Drafted out of Community College
87 - Latin American Free Agents
3 - Pacific Rim Free Agents
13 - U.S. Non-Drafted Free Agents
40 - Trades
22 - Free Agents
9 - Waiver Claims
3 - Rule 5
1 - Rule 5/Trade

DRAFT PICKS BY ROUND
In addition to those players drafted by the Astros, there have been numerous players added to the system that were drafted by other teams. Here is the breakdown by round of all players in the Astros system that were originally drafted whether by the Astros or by another team.

22 - 1st round
10 - 2nd round
9 - 3rd round
9 - 4th round
5 - 5th round
6 - 6th round
6 - 7th round
8 - 8th round
7 - 9th round
5 - 10th round
4 - 11th round
4 - 12th round
4 - 13th round
3 - 14th round
5 - 15th round
3 - 16th round
3 - 17th round
2 - 18th round
3 - 19th round
2 - 20th round
2 - 21st round
2 - 22nd round
3 - 23rd round
2 - 24th round
3 - 25th round
3 - 27th round
3 - 28th round
3 - 29th round
1 - 30th round
4 - 31st round
2 - 32nd round
1 - 33rd round
1 - 34th round
2 - 35th round
2 - 36th round
2 - 37th round
2 - 38th round
1 - 39th round
1 - 41st round
1 - 45th round
1 - 49th round

BATTERS
87 - Bat right-handed
36 - Bat left-handed
16 - Switch hitters
1 - Unknown (N/A for 2012 Australian signing Connor MacDonald)

POSITION
63 - Infielders primarily
50 - Outfielders primarily
27 - Catchers
111 - Right-handed pitchers
39 - Left-handed pitchers

In looking at the information, a couple of things jumped out at me.
  • I'm really surprised that there isn't a single person in the organization from Louisiana. The closest thing we've got is Brian Bogusevic who was born in Illinois but went to college at Tulane.
  • Almost one quarter of the players (24.1%) are from the Dominican Republic.
  • 17.1% of position players (and 12.1% of the total) were born in California while 12% of the pitchers were born in Texas.
  • Only 3 pitchers out of 17 drafted (Dallas Keuchel, Tanner Bushue and Raul Rivera) remain from 2009 draft while 14 of 19 position players remain.
  • 2009 also appears to have been a subpar year in Latin American free agent signings as only nine players signed that year are still in the system.
Again, I just looked at this information mainly because I find it personally interesting and not to draw any sweeping conclusions. I hope you found it somewhat interesting as well.

Winter League Recaps - 10/21

The Arizona Fall League had the day off, presumably so that Jarred Cosart could watch his Texans win and Nick Tropeano could get his heart broken by his Jets again.

Today's Game - Mesa (3-8) at Salt River (5-5) at 8:35 CST

VENEZUELAN WINTER LEAGUE

La Guaira over Aragua 3-1
2B Jose Martinez was 2-for-5 with a strikeout for Aragua. He is now hitting .250.

DOMINICAN WINTER LEAGUE

Licey over Estrellas 3-2
RF Domingo Santana made his first start of the season for Licey and went 1-for-3 with an RBI single, a walk, an outfield assist and he scored a run in Licey's win. Jonathan Villar came in as a pinch hitter for Aguilas and recorded a sacrifice bunt in his only plate appearance.

MEXICAN PACIFIC LEAGUE

Hermosillo over Obregon 2-0
RHP Garrett Mock pitched three innings in relief for Hermosillo and was awarded his first win of the season. In three innings, he allowed no hits, no runs and one walk with two strikeouts. He has not allowed a run in his three appearances.

LIGA PARALELA

I checked in with the Liga Paralela (which, if you remember, is more or less the Venezuelan minor leagues) to see how the participating Astros players were doing through Saturday's games.

C Carlos Perez - .444/.500/1.111 with 3 doubles, a home run and 5 RBI in 3 games
C Luis Alvarez - .308/.308/.308 with 4 RBI in 3 games
OF Jose Monzon - .250/.364/.429 with a triple, home run and 2 RBI in 8 games
C Ernesto Genoves - .238/.429/.571 with a double, 2 home runs and 6 RBI in 6 games
C Alfredo Gonzalez - .500/.500/1.000 with a double, home run and 3 RBI in 2 games

RHP Carlos Quevedo - 6.75 ERA and 1.250 WHIP over 4IP in 1 game
RHP Enderson Franco - 5.40 ERA and 2.000 WHIP over 5IP in 2 games

Happy Birthday - 10/22

C Miles Hamblin (24)
This Texas native was drafted in the 12th round in 2011 out of the University of Mississippi. After a good 2011 season for Tri-City, he started the 2012 season for Lexington but only appeared in two games before getting shelved for the season. In only three at-bats he hit a home run, walked and scored twice.

SS/OF Brian Bixler (30)
A second round draft pick by Pittsburgh in 2004, Bixler was claimed by Houston off waivers from the Nationals in November 2011. In his first season with the Astros, he split his time between Oklahoma City and Houston. In 75 games with the Redhawks, he hit .269/.346/.361. In 36 games with Houston, he hit .193/.253/.330. He elected free agency at the end of the season.

Former Astros having birthdays today ~

LHP Frank DiPino (56)
DiPino came to Houston as a part of a September 1982 trade with Milwaukee for Don Sutton. In 201 games pitched for the Astros from 1982 to 1986, he had a 3.65 ERA and a 1.304 WHIP. He left Houston in a July 1986 trade for Davey Lopes.

CF Gerald Young (48)
Originally drafted by the Mets in the fifth round in 1982, Young came to Houston in an August 1984 trade with New York. Playing for the Astros from 1987 to 1992, Young hit .246/.330/.302 and stole 153 bases.

Manager "Harry the Hat" Walker (died August 8, 1999 at age 82)
Walker managed the Astros from 1968 to 1972 and compiled a 355-353 record. According to Wikipedia:
"Harry the Hat" got his nickname from his habit during at-bats of continually adjusting his cap between pitches — there were no batting helmets in his day.

Tweet of the Day

Gabriel Garcia

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Arizona Fall and Winter League Recaps - 10/20

ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE

Surprise over Mesa 16-10
Not an auspicious start for RHP Jarred Cosart who gave up seven runs (three earned) on four hits and three walks before I even had time to turn on Game Day. Cosart only lasted two-thirds of an inning. The next pitcher, Tyler Green of the Detroit organization gave up another five runs in his two-thirds of an inning and was followed up by LHP Alex Sogard who also pitched two-thirds of an inning and gave up two hits, including a two-run home run. Yes, Surprise got 14 of their runs in the first two innings. RHP Nick Tropeano stopped the bleeding with a hitless third in which he allowed one walk and struck out two. RHP Chia-Jen Lo allowed Surprise's 15th run in the seventh on a solo home run. On the offensive side, DH Jon Singleton went 0-for-4 with a walk and scored a run. Jio Mier got a start at third base, went 2-for-5 with a double and scored twice.

No game today.

VENEZUELAN WINTER LEAGUE

Aragua over Caracas 2-1 in 12 innings
2B Jose Martinez went 1-for-5 with an RBI and a strikeout for Aragua. For Caracas, CF Brandon Barnes went 1-for-6 and struck out three times.

DOMINICAN WINTER LEAGUE

Escogido over Aguilas 6-4
SS Jonathan Villar went 0-for-3 with a strikeout for Aguilas.

Happy Birthday - 10/21

RHP Rauldison Rodriguez (19)
A non-drafted free agent from the Dominican Republic, Rodriguez spent his first pro season with the DSL Astros. In 10 appearances out of the bullpen, he had a 3.18 ERA and a 1.765 WHIP.

Former Astros with birthdays today ~

1B/OF Franklin Stubbs (52)
A first round pick by the Dodgers in 1982, Stubbs came to Houston in an April 1990 trade with Los Angeles. In 146 games for the Astros that season, he hit .261/.334/.475 with 23 doubles, two triples and 23 home runs. He earned his World Series ring with the Dodgers in 1988.

OF Ron Davis (died September 5, 1992 at age 50)
Davis signed as an amateur free agent with Houston prior to the 1962 season and played for the Colt .45's that season and for the Astros in 1966 to 1968. In a total of 200 games for Houston, he hit .239/.293/.345.

RHP Cecil Upshaw (died February 7, 1995 at age 52)
Upshaw came to Houston in an April 1973 trade with Atlanta. In 35 games out of the bullpen that season, he was 2-3 with a 4.46 ERA and a 1.383 WHIP. After the season, he was traded to Cleveland.

2B Keith Drumright (died August 7, 2010 at age 55)
Originally drafted by the Cubs in the fourth round in 1976, Drumright came to Houston in a October 1977 trade with Chicago. In 17 games for the Astros in 1978, he hit .164/.207/.164. His only other major league experience was in 31 games for Oakland in 1981.

Tweet of the Day

Jake Buchanan

Me and my pumpkin 
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