Tuesday, November 10, 2020

2020 Rule 5 Draft

 2020 Rule 5 Draft Primer and Eligible Players

Here is a primer based on my understanding of how the Rule 5 draft works and a list of current draft eligible players. I am including additional information below regarding my best guess on what players will be considered for protection.

Forrest Whitley - May 2019

Freudis Nova - July 2019
Photo by Jayne Hansen


RULE 5

The Rule 5 draft (no, it's not the Rule V draft; please stop calling it that!) was updated somewhat prior to 2016's draft in two ways: it eliminated the lower of two minor league phases of the draft and it increased the compensation payment to teams for players who are lost through the draft. Here is the text of Rule 5 with the Eligibility Rules highlighted in Blue.
Rule 5
ANNUAL SELECTION OF PLAYERS
(a) MEETINGS. A selection meeting shall be held each year at such time and place as the Commissioner shall designate and shall be known as the Rule 5 Selection Meeting. At the Rule 5 Selection Meeting, Major League Clubs may claim the contracts of players who are on Minor League Reserve Lists (filed pursuant to Rule 2) and who are subject to selection as set forth in this Rule 5. If any Major League or Minor League Club shall fail to file Minor League Reserve Lists in accordance with Major League Rule 2, its players on Minor League Reserve Lists shall be subject to selection under this Rule 5 without any restrictions. The Commissioner shall decide all procedural questions that may arise during the Rule 5 Selection Meeting.
(b) METHOD AND PRIORITY OF SELECTIONS. Selections under this Rule 5 shall be made in two separate phases: the Major League phase and the Class AAA phase. A player selected in one of these phases must be placed on the Major League Club’s Reserve List in the same classification of the phase in which the player was selected. Within each phase, only players from a Reserve List of a lower classification Club are eligible for selection. Within each phase, selections shall be made according to the following order and conditions:
(1) Major League Clubs shall select in reverse order of their winning percentages at the close of the preceding championship season, without regard to standings within any Division or League and without regard to post-season results. If two or more Clubs had an identical percentage of games won at the close of the preceding championship season, the selection order of those Clubs shall be determined by the percentage of games won in the next prior championship season, with any remaining ties resolved by continuing to examine the tied Clubs’ respective championship season winning percentages in each preceding prior year, until the tie is broken.
(2) As called in the above order of priority in a phase, each Major League Club shall have a right to select one player subject to selection under this Rule 5. If a Club does not exercise its right of selection when called, or if its right of selection in that phase has ceased because its Reserve List(s) for the classification covered by the phase has reached the allowable limit under Rule 2, the next Club in order shall be called. When a round has been completed, the process of selection shall be repeated until all Major League Clubs have no further right of selection in that phase. A Club
having announced its selection in proper order cannot later cancel the selection.
(3) In any year in which one or more new members have been admitted to a Major League for operations in the next championship season, each such new member may select player contracts under this Rule 5. The procedures and regulations governing such selections shall be as agreed upon by the Major League Clubs.
(4) Any Major League Club may authorize (in writing or by electronic communication) any employee, the Commissioner, or an employee of the Commissioner’s Office to announce its selection or selections at the meeting. Such authorized selections shall be as binding and effective as if announced by a Major League Club official.
(c) PLAYERS SUBJECT TO SELECTION. All players on the Minor League Reserve Lists of Major League and Minor League Clubs, except players on the Voluntarily Retired, Disqualified or Ineligible Lists, shall be subject to selection by other Major League Clubs at the Rule 5 Selection Meeting in accordance with the following:
(1) A player without previous Major or Minor League service who signs with a Major League or independent Minor League Club shall be subject to selection based on the following:
(A) if 18 years of age or under on the June 5 immediately preceding the player’s signing, the player shall be subject to selection at the fifth Rule 5 Selection Meeting that follows the signing date of the player’s first Major or Minor League contract, unless Rule 5(c)(1)(C) applies;
(B) if 19 years of age or over on the June 5 immediately preceding the player’s signing, the player shall be subject to selection at the fourth Selection Meeting that follows the signing date of the player’s first Major or Minor League contract, unless Rule 5(c)(1)(C) applies;
(C) if the signing date of a player’s first Major or Minor League contract is between
(i) the conclusion of the championship season for the Major or Minor League Club to which the player is assigned on such contract and
(ii) the next Rule 5 Selection Meeting,
then the player shall be deemed to have signed after the next Rule 5 Selection Meeting, for purposes of this Rule 5(c)(1).
(2) A player who is re-signed by a Club within one year from the date the Club released the player shall be subject to draft at the Rule 5 Selection Meeting following the date of the latest contract with that Club.
(3) A player who has been subject to draft at a Rule 5 Selection Meeting shall be subject to draft at any subsequent Rule 5 Selection Meeting if the player is on a Minor League Reserve List (filed pursuant to Rule 2 (Player Limits and Reserve Lists)) at the time of the Rule 5 Selection Meeting.
(4) A player
(A) whose contract has been assigned outright by a Major League Club to a Minor League Club,
(B) who has been signed as a free agent to a Minor League Uniform Player Contract for services in the following year and is otherwise subject to selection pursuant to Rule 5(c)(1) or Rule 5(c)(2), or
(C) who has been released unconditionally from a Minor League roster and is otherwise subject to selection pursuant to Rule 5(c)(1) or Rule 5(c)(2), shall be subject to selection at any subsequent Rule 5 Selection Meeting if the player is on a Minor League Reserve List (filed pursuant to Rule 2 (Player Limits and Reserve Lists)) at the time of the Rule 5 Selection Meeting.
(5) A Major League or independent Minor League Club may designate any player on one of its Minor League Reserve Lists to be subject to selection who otherwise would not be selectable under this Rule 5.
(d) CONSIDERATION, PAYMENT, AND RESPONSIBILITY. The consideration for a selection under this Rule 5 shall be as follows:
(1) $100,000, if the selected player is placed on a Major League Reserve List;
(2) $24,000, if the selected player is placed on a Class AAA Reserve List;
In addition to the compensation set forth in this paragraph, an independent Minor League Club shall be reimbursed by a selecting Major League Club for all compensation (including salary, bonuses and benefits) that it has paid to a selected player if the player is selected at the first selection meeting following the first year of the player’s initial Minor League Uniform Player Contract. Payment of the consideration due the selectee Club shall be made in the same manner as provided in Rule 12 Transfer Agreements) regarding other assignments of player contracts. The selector Major League Club must assume all responsibility for the player’s physical condition and for the player’s reporting.
(e) PLAYER-MANAGERS. A Player-Manager shall be subject to selection if the player would otherwise be selectable under Rule 5(c) (Players Subject to Selection). However, a player-manager shall be subject to selection as a player only and the player-manager selected may reject such selection by giving written or electronic notification of such rejection to the Commissioner within 30 days from the date that the player-manager receives notification of such selection from the Commissioner. A player-manager contract that has been executed within 30 days before the close of the season shall not be changed to a player contract during the season following execution of such player-manager contract unless the Commissioner approves such a change in writing.
(f) COVERING UP. No agreement shall be made for the purpose or with the effect of covering up a player from selection. If the Commissioner shall be of opinion that any such agreement has been made, the Commissioner may impose a fine upon each party to such an agreement.
RULE 5 ELIGIBILITY

The highlighted passage above regarding Rule 5 eligibility is somewhat cumbersome. What it means in English is that this year's eligible players basically include: 1) any player who signed prior to the end of the 2016 season; and 2) players who signed after the end of the 2016 season and prior to the end of the 2017 season who were 19 years old or older when they signed. That means most 2017 drafted college players are eligible, but high school players (and some community college players) drafted in 2017 may not be eligible until next year. For the international free agents, one needs to know when the player signed his first professional agreement and his age at signing to make the determination. There is an exception based on players who signed during the off-season, but otherwise, that is the basic gist of it.

MAJOR LEAGUE PHASE OF THE RULE 5 DRAFT

The first phase of the Rule 5 draft is the major league phase. In order to protect an eligible player from being drafted in the major league phase of the Rule 5 draft, he must be on the major league club's 40-man roster prior to November 20th (if that falls on a business day). Players on the 40-man roster at that deadline are considered "protected."

Obviously not all of a team's best players can be protected on the 40-man roster. That is where the AAA Reserve List helps. If a player from the AAA Reserve List is drafted in the Rule 5 draft, that player must remain on the drafting team's 25-man major league roster for the full season or 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 he was drafted.

The cost of drafting a player in the major league phase of the draft is now $100,000. If the player is offered back to the team from which he was drafted, the original team must pay $50,000 back to the drafting team. If the original team declines, the player will be put on waivers.

Last season 1B Taylor Jones, RHP Cristian Javier, RHP Enoli Paredes and RHP Nivaldo Rodriguez were added to the 40-man roster by the Astros in advance of the deadline. The front office made the determination that these players were the most likely players to be taken in the Rule 5 draft. The front office took a calculated risk by not adding other players such as OF Ronnie Dawson and SS Jonathan Arauz (who were both in the Astros Top 30 at the time) to the 40-man roster, but only included them on the AAA Reserve List. They made a determination as to which players, if drafted, were more likely to "stick" on a major league roster for a full season and had mixed success in that one of the three unprotected players claimed in last year's Rule 5 draft (RHP Brandon Bailey) was returned to the team, but two other players were lost. The rules for sticking with a team changed in 2020 due to the pandemic-shortened season, but RHP Yohan Ramirez (Seattle) and SS Jonathan Arauz (Boston) ultimately stuck.

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. It all comes down to another team's ability to find room on their 25-man roster for a full season. It's simply not that easy to do and that's why so very few players are drafted in the Rule 5 draft and stick with a team.

It's also the case that often minor league fans overvalue prospects. We may think much more highly of a player than the other teams' front offices do. When all is said and done, the Astros front office will take some risks in leaving players unprotected, but it will be a highly educated guess based on many factors, including future needs.

MINOR LEAGUE PHASE OF THE RULE 5 DRAFT

There is now only one minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft, reduced from two phases in earlier years. The players on the 40-man roster and the AAA reserve list aren't eligible to be taken in the minor league phase of the draft. To my knowledge the AAA reserve list is still set at 38 players so, in essence, you are protecting your top 78 players from the minor league phase. (As far as I know, AAA Reserve Lists are not made public so we are left to guess who the Astros will be shielding from the minor league phase of the draft.)

In the AAA Phase of the draft, a player who is on the AA Reserve List or lower can be drafted for inclusion on the drafting team's AAA Reserve list for a cost of $24,000. The kicker on the minor league phase of the draft is that the drafted player basically becomes that team's property. There is no requirement to offer the player back if he doesn't work out. He can be traded, released, etc. at a team's discretion.

ASTROS 2020 RULE 5 ELIGIBLE PLAYERS

According to my records, the following are those players who will be eligible for the Rule 5 draft in December if they are left unprotected. I am grouping them into two categories, those who ended the 2019 season at High A or above and those who ended the 2019 season at Low A or below. Players who are first year eligible have been #'d. Players who are currently on the MLB Pipeline Top 30 Prospect List (as of 11/10) have their ranking noted.

This is going to be a tough one. There are NINE players from the Astros Top 30 available and currently only four openings on the 40-man roster (as of 11/10). Regardless of any issues that Forrest Whitley has had, at number 1 in the prospect pecking order, he's pretty much a lock for one of those spaces. And, although Freudis Nova hasn't played above Low A, I'm not sure that the Astros are going to want to expose their number 2 prospect either. Beyond that, you have a number of pitching prospects that other teams will be taking a hard look at. Personally, Jairo Solis would have the edge for me even though he hasn't pitched above Low A; he is a special talent and will be two years removed from TJ surgery. But Jojanse Torres, Jose Alberto Rivera, Tyler Ivey and Peter Solomon will all be attractive targets as well. From a position player standpoint, Ronnie Dawson (#29) is probably as ready for prime time as he's going to get. And there are certainly other players on this list who aren't currently on the Top 30 prospect list that could help another team out immediately. In particular, Alex DeGoti, Collin McKee and Ralph Garza stand out for me. But, unfortunately, all of this conjecture is based on the 2019 season since there was no actual minor league season in 2020.

I think this may very well be an unusually active Rule 5 draft as well. With smaller draft classes likely to become the norm and payrolls being squeezed by the pandemic, teams are going to be looking for bargains. It will not be surprising if the Astros lose a number of players unless they are able to find a bit more wiggle room on the roster.

Players Ending 2019 at High A or above

Position Players
#1B Jake Adams
2B/3B Enmanuel Valdez

Pitchers
LHP/OF Carmen Benedetti (was converting to pitcher in 2019)
#RHP Peter Solomon #27 (TJ surgery in 2019)
#RHP Forrest Whitley #1

Players ending 2019 at Low A or lower

Position Players

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Glass Houses

Last night I was, of course, watching the final game of the ALCS. I was very happy that the Astros were able to battle back from a 0-3 deficit, but I wasn’t particularly surprised that their efforts fell short as they dealt with injuries and everything else that was a part of this hellscape we call 2020.

I was legitimately happy for the Rays to move on to the World Series and was about to post a congratulatory tweet when I saw the Rays AAA affiliate Durham Bulls put out a tweet calling the Astros trash. Here I am seeing a ton of Astros fans sincerely congratulating the Rays, and this Rays affiliate seems to be more excited to “trash” the Astros than they are about the fact that their team just advanced to the World Series. Nothing like being a sore winner.

Here’s the deal. I do not now nor have I ever condoned what the Astros did. They stole signs in a manner that was against the rules and it shouldn’t have happened. But it did. At the time, I wrote a post telling the players involved to grow up. Well, guess what? They did. They confessed. They apologized. And they owned it. And, in retrospect, that was the problem. Other teams were cheating in similar fashion around the same time. But they chose to obfuscate and cover up their investigations with the winking consent of Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred. The Yankees have fought to keep sealed a letter regarding their own scandal because it “might harm their reputation.” No confessions. No apologies. And no owning it for them. Just sweeping it under the rug.

I was not proud of what the Astros did, but I am proud of the way the players handled it. They did not deflect blame. They did not hide behind Manfred’s skirts. They owned it. Carlos Correa went from a boy to a man in the blink of an eye and I could not be prouder of him. He became the team leader and franchise spokesman. Bregman ramped up his efforts to help the community during the current crisis. They refuse to let this scandal define them as people or as players.

The fans of other teams view the collective Astros brand as the boogeyman. They do not see the individual players for what they are. And these same people have zero self-awareness. Hey, Rays fans, since the Astros are so evil, please send us Charlie Morton back. He was one of those 2017 Cheating ‘Stros. You must really hate him. And while you’re at it, you can send us back your third base coach (Rodney Linares) and one of your bullpen pitchers (Ryan Thompson) because they were in the Astros system in 2017 and you wouldn’t want to risk being tainted by their Astros stank. And I know you just acquired Brett Phillips, but you do know that he is besties with Lance McCullers and Carlos Correa, right? And worst of all, you have a Special Assistant to the GM (Bobby Heck) that was, gasp, the Scouting Director for the Astros and was instrumental in signing George Springer and Carlos Correa. How do you know that he isn’t trying to corrupt your organization? And it’s not just the Rays. You will be hard-pressed to find an MLB organization with zero connection to this team. The Astros tentacles are everywhere.

This is the reality. Someone on your favorite team may very well be trying to get an edge by stealing signs or by doctoring a baseball or by taking performance-enhancing drugs. Or they may be gambling on baseball. Or they may be going out of their way to intentionally hurt other players with hard slides or beanballs. Or they may be domestic abusers. Or they may be stone-cold cowards who like to date underage girls (I’m looking at you A’s). Or your front office may be trying to steal proprietary information. Or your coaches or managers may be the ones who persuaded players to cheat. Or you may have players on your team who are just lousy human beings. Your team is only as pure and blameless as the worst person in your organization. Go ahead and throw stones, but don’t be surprised when the glass gets broken in your own house.

Oh, and one final word. Since the Astros (booga booga booga) are so horrible and evil, I am assuming that there is not one single fan of another team that will want George Springer in free agency. Who could possibly want “trash” like that? With that said, I am sincerely happy for the Rays and would like to congratulate them on moving on to the World Series.

Friday, July 24, 2020

It's Opening Day ... in July

So, I guess we're actually going to do this thing ... at least at the major league level. I've been on an extended hiatus while the world is burning down around us to concentrate on my own well-being, both mental and physical. Ironically, I was really feeling rested and more ready for this MiLB season than I had in a while. But, alas and alack, it was not meant to be. I certainly plan to continue WTHB and will post from time to time until minor league baseball is back, but in the meantime, I am heavy into a research project for a book I've been wanting to write for a while; the time involved always seemed prohibitive, but suddenly I have all the time in the world.

Let's catch up (or at least refresh our memories a bit) on minor league happenings ...

RULE 5 DRAFT

As a reminder, the Astros lost three players in the Rule 5 draft last December. Here is what I wrote about them at the time. As you probably know, Brandon Bailey was returned to the Astros and his contract was selected for the opening day roster.

RHP Brandon Bailey (Baltimore/RETURNED): Bailey had a very solid season with the AA Corpus Christi Hooks in 2019 (3.30 ERA/1.219 WHIP in 22 games/17 starts). Bailey came to the Astros in the November 2017 trade with Oakland that sent Ramon Laureano to that team. Bailey allowed 41 walks while striking out 103 in 92.2 innings of work. He has solid command and is expected to take on a swing man/middle relief role. In my opinion, Bailey showed enough polish and pitch development in 2019 that he is the most likely of the three taken to stick with his new team.

RHP Yohan Ramirez (Seattle): Ramirez is a real wild card (in more than one meaning of the word wild). Ramirez has an electric arm with a fastball that touches the upper 90's and a plus curveball, but his control is still very much a work in progress. In 106 innings pitched between High A Fayetteville and AA Corpus Christi in 2019 (3.99 ERA/1.302 WHIP), Ramirez allowed 74 walks while striking out 158. There was also the matter of 17 wild pitches and 15 hit batters. He is the ultimate high risk, high reward pick up. It will be difficult for him to stick with a team without showing a lot of progress on control and command, but if he is able to harness his talent, watch out! Ramirez is, in my opinion, the least likely of the three to stick.

SS Jonathan Arauz (Boston): Arauz falls somewhere in between the other two in his ability to stick with a new team (again, in my opinion). Arauz's bat has lagged his solid defense over his career, but he mostly held his own in 2019 between High A Fayetteville and AA Corpus Christi, hitting a combined .249/.319/.388 with 22 doubles, three triples and 11 home runs in 115 games. Arauz will be helped by the expansion of the MLB rosters to 26 and could conceivably earn his keep as a utility infielder, helping him to stick on the roster until his bat catches up to the major league level.

MLB JUNE DRAFT

The Astros signed all four of their draft picks.

Round 2, Pick 72: Alex Santos II, RHP, Mount St. Michael Academy (Bronx, NY) - @alexxmansantos; committed to Maryland
Round 3, Pick 101: Tyler Brown, RHP, Vanderbilt - @TbTy10
Round 4, Pick 131: Zach Daniels, OF, Tennessee - @zach_daniels2
Round 5, Pick 160: Shay Whitcomb, SS, UC San Diego - @shay_whitcomb (Instagram)

In addition, in light of the extremely abbreviated 2020 draft, the Astros signed several undrafted free agents as well.

Jimmy Endersby, RHP, Concordia University Irvine (California) - @jimmyendersby20
Justin Dirden, OF, Southeast Missouri State - @j_dirr
César Gomez, RHP, UT-Arlington - @CDaGoat9
Peter Zimmermann, IF, Missouri - @PeterZim30
Jonathan Sprinkle, RHP, Central Missouri - @JSprinkle47
Kyle Gruller, RHP, Houston Baptist - @Kylegruller17
Cody Orr, OF, Tiffin - @Cody_Orr14
Zack Matthews, RHP, Oklahoma - @zack8matthews
J.C. Correa, IF, Lamar - @Jc_Correa1
Hunter Peck, LHP, Georgia Gwinnett College - @H_Peck11

Many thanks to my partner in crime, Dustin, for keeping up with all this while I've been checked out!

ASTROS ALTERNATE TRAINING SITE

Here is a link to the players who are currently assigned to the Astros alternate training site.

OTHER TRANSACTIONS

Here are the other Astros minor league transactions since the end of the 2019 season.

7/23: RHP Brandon Bailey contract selected
6/5: OF James Nix (Tri-City) released
5/28: LHP Brett Adcock (Round Rock) released
5/28: C Ruben Castro (Round Rock) released
5/28: RHP Justin Ferrell (Corpus Christi) released
5/28: RHP Edgardo Sandoval (Fayetteville) released
5/28: RHP Jacob Billingsley (Fayetteville) released
5/28: RHP Luis de Paula (Quad Cities) released
5/28: RHP Miguel Figueroa (Quad Cities) released
5/28: 2B Austin Dennis (Quad Cities) released
5/28: 2B Trey Dawson (Quad Cities) released
5/28?: RHP Joey Gonzalez (Quad Cities) released
5/28: OF Preston Pavlica (Tri-City) released
5/28: OF E.P. Reese (Tri-City) released
5/28: OF Juan Ramirez (Tri-City) released
5/28: OF Abraham Castillo (GCL) released
5/28: LHP Bryan Martinez (GCL) released
5/28: LHP Daniel Bello (GCL) released
5/28: 3B Junior Marte (DSL) released
5/28: 2B Sebastian Grullon (DSL) released
3/19: 2/17: RHP Jared Hughes released
3/6: RHP Brandon Bailey (Rule 5) returned by the Orioles
2/28: RHP Alimber Santa signed (17-year old from the Dominican Republic)
2/24: RHP Carlos Hiraldo signed (22-year old from the Dominican Republic; not to be confused with lefty Carlos Hiraldo who has already been in the system for several years)
2/17: RHP Jared Hughes signed as a free agent
1/16: RHP Dean Deetz outrighted to Round Rock
1/9: RHP Peyton Battenfield (Tri-City) and OF Cal Stevenson (Fayetteville) traded to the Rays for RHP Austin Pruitt
Notes: Battenfield was drafted by Houston in the 9th round in 2019 out of Oklahoma State University and had an excellent first pro season. Here is my interview with him from July.  Cal Stevenson came to the Astros, along with Aaron Sanchez and Joe Biagini, as a part of the 7/31/19 trade with the Blue Jays that sent Derek Fisher to Toronto. Here's hoping that his family didn't invest a lot in Astros gear after the trade.
1/9: RHP Dean Deetz designated for assignment
12/12: RHP Brandon Bailey (Corpus Christi) claimed by the Orioles in the Rule 5 Draft
12/12: RHP Yohan Ramirez (Corpus Christi) claimed by the Mariners in the Rule 5 Draft
12/12: SS Jonathan Arauz (Corpus Christi) claimed by the Red Sox in the Rule 5 Draft
12/5: CF Jake Marisnick (Houston) traded to the Mets for LHP Blake Taylor and OF Kenedy Corona (assigned to Tri-City) - see below for more
11/20: RHP Cristian Javier (Round Rock) added to the 40-man roster in advance of the Rule 5 Draft
11/20: 1B Taylor Jones (Round Rock) added to the 40-man roster in advance of the Rule 5 Draft
11/20: RHP Nivaldo Rodriguez (Fayetteville) added to the 40-man roster in advance of the Rule 5 Draft
11/20: RHP Enoli Paredes (Corpus Christi) added to the 40-man roster in advance of the Rule 5 Draft
11/4: LHP Kent Emanuel (Round Rock) added to the 40-man roster (Emanuel was due to become a MiLB FA)
11/4: OF Granden Goetzman (Corpus Christi) elected minor league free agency
11/4: RHP Erasmo Pinales (Corpus Christi) elected minor league free agency
10/16: RHP Chanderson Perez signed (18 year old Dominican)

Further information about the two players who came to the Astros from the Mets in the December Marisnick trade.

LHP Blake Taylor: Taylor was drafted by the Pirates in the second round in 2013 and was traded to the Mets a year later. Tommy John surgery and recovery sidelined him from late 2015 to late 2016. For the next two years, Taylor was a starter who failed to break through, but a move to the bullpen in 2019 suited him and he put together the most successful season of his career to date (2.16 ERA/1.095 WHIP in 40 appearances, converting 10 of 11 save opportunities). He spent approximately half of the season at High A, half at AA (1.85 ERA/0.949 WHIP) and finished the season by facing and retiring one batter at AAA. Taylor built on his 2019 success with seven appearances in the Arizona Fall League (2.00 ERA/0.778 WHIP). Taylor becomes one of only seven lefty pitchers in the Astros system who finished the 2019 season at AA or higher. Baseball America describes him as having a "mid-90's fastball and a high spin rate on his breaking ball." He turned 24 in August.

OF Kenedy Carona: Corona, a 19-year old Venezuelan (20 in March), has only one professional season under his belt at this point, but it was a very successful season in which he progressed from the DSL to the GCL to four games at short season A to end the year. In 63 games, he hit .301/.398/.470 with 14 doubles, four triples, five home runs and 29 RBI. He also snagged 19 bases (five caught stealing) and walked (29 times) almost as much as he struck out (36 times). He can play all the outfield positions and his defensive numbers stack up nicely against most of his outfield competition in the system. Baseball America describes Corona as athletic with "the ability to play the outfield with some polish at a young age."

INTERVIEWS

In case you missed these from February, I interviewed former Astros minor leaguer Daniel Minor and we did a deep dive on how some of Rob Manfred's rule changes played out in the Atlantic League last season. And I really enjoyed talking with long-time Astros scout Jim Stevenson on some of his hits, one memorable miss and some of the ways scouting has changed over the years.

Also, I did a short interview with Enoli Paredes and Cristian Javier back in August in Corpus Christi. From Corpus in August to opening day roster spots!

ONE FINAL NOTE

The baseball community lost a good one yesterday. Johan Maya was with the Astros for 15 years in player development and scouting. He was always happy to help when I reached out to him for information on players in the DSL and he so obviously enjoyed working with those young men. Johan was only 40 years old and left behind a wife, three children and another child on the way. He will be missed by many. Be careful out there. And please wear a mask.


Thursday, June 11, 2020

2020 Astros Draft Picks/Undrafted Free Agents on Social Media

There are more pressing matters in this world at the moment, but nevertheless, let's welcome the 2020 Houston Astros draft class.

We hope that you all remain safe throughout these uncertain times and we look forward to seeing you on the field when things return to normal.

Round 2, Pick 72: Alex Santos II, RHP, Mount St. Michael Academy (Bronx, NY) - @alexxmansantos; committed to Maryland
Round 3, Pick 101: Tyler Brown, RHP, Vanderbilt - @TbTy10
Round 4, Pick 131: Zach Daniels, OF, Tennessee - @zach_daniels2
Round 5, Pick 160: Shay Whitcomb, SS, UC San Diego - @shay_whitcomb (Instagram)

UNDRAFTED FREE AGENTS

In the past, there were players that apparently signed undrafted free agent deals but never actually appeared in a game anywhere in the Houston Astros organization. Baseball America is keeping track of undrafted free agent signings.

Jimmy Endersby, RHP, Concordia University Irvine (California) - @jimmyendersby20
Justin Dirden, OF, Southeast Missouri State - @j_dirr
César Gomez, RHP, UT-Arlington - @CDaGoat9
Peter Zimmermann, IF, Missouri - @PeterZim30
Jonathan Sprinkle, RHP, Central Missouri - @JSprinkle47
Kyle Gruller, RHP, Houston Baptist - @Kylegruller17
Cody Orr, OF, Tiffin - @Cody_Orr14
Zack Matthews, RHP, Oklahoma - @zack8matthews
J.C. Correa, IF, Lamar - @Jc_Correa1

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Astros Minor League Transactions

Despite the prospect of no Minor League Baseball this year, we still have some transaction news to convey and, I'll be honest, it's not pleasant.

We'll update this post as we get more information.

DOMINICAN SUMMER LEAGUE

5/27 - RHP Carlos Manuel Hiraldo assigned to DSL Astros
- Hiraldo, 21, signed on February 24 of this year. There is also another Carlos Hiraldo already in the system, but he is a left-handed pitcher and his middle name is Julio.

RHP Alimber Santa assigned to DSL Astros
- Santa, who turned 17 on May 3, signed on February 28.

RELEASES

Cuts, unfortunately, have begun across MLB and according to Baseball America's Kyle Glaser, at least 20 players in the Astros system have been released.

LHP Brett Adcock and RHP Justin Ferrell confirmed their releases via Instagram.

Update, May 29: Here is the full list of players who have been released from the Astros organization.


Update, June 15: OF James Nix (actually released June 5) and RHP Joey Gonzalez are listed as being released on their MiLB.com player pages.

What the Heck, Bobby? would like to wish each and every player who received this stunning and unfortunate news all the best in their future endeavors.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Astros Minor League Recaps

Results for Thursday, April 9. 2020

A message from Dustin:

Right now, under normal circumstances, this post would consist of the previous night's results and happenings in the Houston Astros' minor league system. Usually, the second Friday in April is the first of these posts.

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, we'll have to wait a while before we get a chance to see Forrest Whitley, Alex De Goti, Jeremy Peña, Cristian Javier, César Salazar, Cody Deason, Chas McCormick, Freúdis Nova, Nivaldo Rodriguez, and the rest of the players in the organization take the field.

We all have a role to play in curtailing the spread of COVID-19, whether it's through practicing social distancing when we're out in public or better yet, staying at home if we know we don't need to go anywhere. It's also made me think quite a bit before I head out; these days, I ask myself whether I need to be going anywhere that's not work and that's further than a mile from my house. And also, there are about a thousand things racing through my head whenever I do something harmless like walking by people when I'm at HEB.

I pray that we come out of this with our health and sanity close to intact as possible and I hope that I can provide you with everything you need to know in the Astros system in 2020.

Until then, don't forget to:

1. Check up on your loved ones.
2. Support local eateries when you get that chance.
3. Wear a mask if you need to be out and about! Maybe have a pair of gloves on hand too.
4. WASH YOUR HANDS!!!!!

And, this is probably the most important thing:

5. IF YOU DON'T NEED TO GO ANYWHERE, STAY HOME! I'd love to go relax at Sharetea in Bellaire, window-shop at The Galleria, spend some time at the Museum of Fine Arts and go out for some ice cream at Milk + Sugar in Montrose or Jeni's in The Heights but that's not possible if we keep going about our business like this! HEB is awesome but you really don't need to be going there that much! Seriously.

Yours truly,
Dustin Nguyen