Thursday, October 22, 2015

Astros 2016 Minor League Coaching Staff

The Astros did something very unique today. They announced their minor league field staffs before the end of October. This information isn't usually released until January. I haven't had a chance to go through it with a fine-tooth comb quite yet, but here is the Astros Press Release given to you without comment. (I'll weigh in later with my observations when time allows.)


Club returns 45 staff members from the 2015 season

HOUSTON, TX — The Houston Astros announced today their minor league staff for the 2016 season. The Astros coordinators will be Paul Runge (field coordinator), Jeff Albert (hitting coordinator), Doug White (pitching coordinator), Mark Bailey(catching coordinator), Adam Everett (infield coordinator), Morgan Ensberg (mindset coach), Leon Roberts (roving outfield instructor), Josh Miller (complex coordinator-pitching), Brendan Verner (strength and conditioning coordinator) and Daniel Roberts (rehab coordinator).

The managers from the Astros top four minor league affiliates in 2015 will all return to their posts next season, as Tony DeFrancesco (Triple A Fresno), Rodney Linares (Double A Corpus Christi), Omar Lopez (Class A Advanced Lancaster) andJosh Bonifay (Class A Quad Cities) will be back for 2016. Lamarr Rogers, manager of the 2015 Appalachian League Champion Greeneville Astros, will move up to Class A Short Season Tri-City to be the club’s manager for the 2016 season. In the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League, Marty Malloy will return for his third consecutive season as manager of the GCL Astros.

The Astros are returning 45 staff members from the 2015 season. The club will announce the managers and coaches for the Dominican Summer League Astros clubs at a later date.


Paul Runge returns for his sixth season as the Astros minor league field coordinator. Prior to joining the Astros in 2011, Runge compiled 14 years of minor league managerial experience in the Braves system. A veteran of eight Major League seasons as an infielder, Runge managed the Rookie Level Danville Braves to four first place finishes and two league titles prior to joining Houston.

Jeff Albert will enter his third season as Houston’s hitting coordinator after joining the organization in 2013 as roving hitting instructor. Prior to joining the Astros, Albert spent five seasons as a coach in the Cardinals minor league system. A graduate of Butler University, Albert played professionally in the independent leagues and also received his Master’s degree in Exercise Science at Louisiana Tech University.

Doug White has been promoted to pitching coordinator after spending the last two seasons as Houston’s roving pitching instructor. The 2016 season will be his fourth campaign with the Astros, as he joined the organization in 2013 as pitching coach for the New York-Penn League Champion Tri-City ValleyCats. Before joining the Astros, White spent five seasons as a pitching coach in the Cardinals minor league system.

Former Astros catcher and Major League bullpen coach Mark Bailey will enter his 18th year as a coach or instructor in the Astros organization, and his first as catching coordinator. Bailey spent the 2015 season as the club’s roving catching instructor, following two seasons as a developmental specialist with a focus on catching for Double A Corpus Christi.

Adam Everett will return to the Astros in 2016 as the organization’s infield coordinator. The former Houston shortstop of seven seasons has spent the last three years as the Astros infield instructor.

Morgan Ensberg is set to return to the organization for his first season as mindset coach, in what will be his fourth consecutive year working in Houston’s minor league system. In his newly created role, Ensberg will travel throughout the Astros system to help develop the mental skills of the Astros players while implementing organizational initiatives. The former eight-year Major League third baseman spent the last two seasons as the Astros minor league special assignment coach, which followed his professional coaching debut as an infield coach with Class A Advanced Lancaster in 2013.

After spending the last four seasons as the Astros hitting coach at the Triple A level, Leon Roberts will serve as the organization’s roving outfield instructor in 2016. Roberts played outfield in the Major Leagues for 11 seasons, and the 2016 season will be his 39th working in baseball as either a player, coach, manager or coordinator.

Josh Miller will enter a new role as complex coordinator (pitching) following three seasons as Greeneville’s pitching coach and two as a pro scout for the Astros. In his new role, Miller will oversee the Astros pitching programs at their complex in Kissimmee, Fla., which will include the extended Spring Training and rehab pitching programs.

Brendan Verner will serve as Houston’s strength and conditioning coordinator for the fourth consecutive season in 2016. Prior to joining the Astros in 2013, Verner spent six seasons working in the Cleveland, Pittsburgh and San Diego minor league systems, in addition to spending two seasons on Cleveland’s Major League staff as an assistant strength and conditioning coach.

Daniel Roberts will return to his role as rehab coordinator for the sixth season. Roberts is based out of the Astros Spring Training complex in Kissimmee, FL, where he assists injured and recovering Major and minor league players with the medical rehabilitation process. Prior to joining the Astros in 2011, Roberts served as an assistant athletic trainer at Charleston Southern University.


After leading the Fresno Grizzlies to the Pacific Coast League and Triple A Championships in 2015, Tony DeFrancesco will return to the Astros organization for his sixth season as Houston’s manager at the Triple A level. Under DeFrancesco’s leadership, which began in 2011, the Astros Triple A clubs have gone 347-303 (.534) while posting a winning record in each of the last four seasons. Prior to joining the Astros, DeFrancesco spent seven seasons as manager at Triple A Sacramento in Oakland’s organization, where he guided the River Cats to six first-place finishes and three PCL titles.

After spending the last three seasons as the Astros minor league pitching coordinator, Dyar Miller will join the Grizzlies coaching staff as pitching coach for the 2016 season. The former Major Leaguer has spent each of the last 48 years working in professional baseball, including an 18-year stint as a coach in the Cardinals organization from 1995-2012. Ralph Dickensonwill also be a new addition to the Grizzlies coaching staff for 2016, as he will serve as hitting coach in what will be his fourth overall season with Houston. During his time with the Astros, Dickenson has been a roving hitting instructor (2015), assistant Major League hitting coach (2014) and hitting coordinator (2013). Bryan Baca will enter his second season as athletic trainer for the Grizzlies and his 10th year overall with the organization, while Trey Wiedman will serve as Fresno’s strength and conditioning coach for the second straight year in what will be his fifth campaign with the Astros.


The 2015 Texas League Manager of the Year, Rodney Linares, will return to Corpus Christi for his second season as the Hooks manager in 2016. Linares, who will enter his 19th year with the Astros, guided Corpus Christi to the most wins in all of minor league baseball in 2015 (89), helping the Hooks become the second Texas League team in the last 20 years to reach 89 wins in a single season (also San Antonio in 2011, 94-46). Linares has been a manager in the Astros system in each of the last nine seasons, leading the Class A Advanced JetHawks to two California League Championship titles (2012, 2014) while receiving the California League Manager of the Year honors in 2013.

Doug Brocail will begin his second season as pitching coach at Double A Corpus Christi. A veteran of 16 Major League seasons, Brocail was named Special Assistant to the GM and Senior Pitching Advisor prior to the 2014 season, following a stint as the Astros Major League pitching coach from 2011-13. Dan Radison will be back in Corpus Christi as the club’s hitting coach for the second straight season. Radison served as a special assistant in player development in 2014, and was the Astros assistant hitting coach on the Major League staff in 2013. Grant Hufford will be with the Astros for his ninth season in 2016, and his second as Corpus Christi’s athletic trainer. Taylor Rhoades will join the Hooks for his first season as strength and conditioning coach, and his third year overall with the Astros.


Omar Lopez is set to return to the JetHawks for his second season as manager and his 18th overall with the Astros organization. Lopez led Lancaster to their fourth consecutive postseason appearance in 2015, with the club leading all of minor league baseball in runs scored (888), homers (174), batting average (.291) and OPS (.850). A member of the Astros organization since 1999, Lopez has managed seven seasons in Houston’s system, and led the 2013 Quad Cities River Bandits to a Midwest League Championship title.

Joining Lopez on the coaching staff will be Michael Burns (pitching coach) and Darryl Robinson (hitting coach). Burns, a former Major League relief pitcher who played for the Astros historic 2005 team, spent the last two seasons as the organization’s rehab coach. Robinson has been the JetHawks hitting coach since 2009, and in 2013 was named the California League Coach of the Year after the JetHawks led the minors in runs (976), walks (669), on-base percentage (.384) and OPS (.853). Michael Rendon will enter his second season as the JetHawks trainer and his sixth with the Astros. Dwayne Petersonreturns to the Astros organization for his third season, and his first as the JetHawks strength and conditioning coach.


Josh Bonifay will head back to Quad Cities for his second season as manager after receiving 2015 Midwest League Manager of the Year honors and leading the River Bandits to the best winning percentage in all of the minor leagues (88-50, .638) this past season. In his three years as a manager in Houston’s system, Bonifay has garnered two Manager of the Year awards, as he was also named the Appalachian League Manager of the Year in 2013 while managing Rookie Level Greeneville. An eight-year minor league veteran, Bonifay began his coaching career as a player/coach in the Pirates organization (2007-09) before joining the Astros in 2011.

Dave Borkowski (pitching coach) and Joel Chimelis (hitting coach) return to the River Bandits in their same roles. Borkowski, a former seven-year Major League pitcher, will be Houston’s Class A pitching coaching for the fourth consecutive season, while Chimelis will be returning for his 11th season in the Astros system and his fourth as Quad Cities hitting coach. Wladimir Sutilserve as a coach at Quad Cities in what will be his third season as a coach with the Astros. Corey O’Brien will return to his role as Quad Cities athletic trainer for his second straight year and his fifth overall with the Astros, while Joe Bossard will be returning to the Astros for his second season, and his first as Quad Cities strength and conditioning coach.


After leading the Greeneville Astros to the Appalachian League Championship title in his first year as a manager with Houston,Lamarr Rogers will move up to Tri-City to serve as the club’s manager for the 2016 season. Rogers has spent 22 years working in professional baseball as a player and coach, and spent 16 seasons with the St. Paul Saints Professional Baseball Club of the Independent Northern League prior to joining the Astros organization in 2014.

Rogers’ staff will consist of Ace Adams (pitching coach), Russ Steinhorn (hitting coach), John Gregorich (athletic trainer) and Mark Spadavecchia (strength). Adams returns to the Astros for his second season and his first as ValleyCats pitching coach, while Steinhorn will be the club’s hitting coach for the fourth consecutive season. Gregorich enters his second season with the ValleyCats and his third overall with the Astros. Spadavecchia returns to the Astros for his fourth season, and his first as Tri-City’s strength and conditioning coach.


Greeneville’s manager is TBD, but Chris Holt (pitching coach), Cesar Cedeno (hitting coach), Elliot Diehl (athletic trainer) and Julio Diaz (strength) will comprise the coaching staff. Holt is returning to the Astros for his third season, and his first as Greeneville’s pitching coach. Cedeno returns to Greeneville for his fifth consecutive season, and his 16th as a coach with the Astros. The four-time All-Star played 12 seasons (1970-81) with the Astros and collected five Gold Gloves as an outfielder. Diehl will be entering his second season with the Astros organization, while Diaz will begin his fourth.


Marty Malloy returns to the GCL Astros for his fourth season overall and his third as manager. Malloy played 12 seasons (1992-2003) of minor league baseball and appeared in 35 career Major League games while playing for Atlanta (1998) and Florida (2002).

Erick Abreu (pitching coach), Luis Mateo (hitting coach) and Ramon Vazquez (coach) will be joined by Ben Myers (athletic trainer). Abreu pitched five seasons in the Astros minor league system, and has been a coach in the DSL for each of the last two years. Mateo has spent the last seven seasons as a hitting coach in the DSL, while Vazquez has been a coach in the Astros system since 2014. Myers will be returning to the GCL Astros for his second season.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Looking Back at the Astros 2007 Draft Class

Last offseason, I started (but admittedly didn't finish) a series on Astros draft classes from the last several years that proved to be highly popular with my readers so I'm updating and/or finishing those posts and will be posting those over the next few weeks. Naturally, I have to go back to the disastrous 2007 draft. (I called it "the holy grail of bad draft classes" in the original post.) The good news is that is gets (much) better from here. The bad news is that reliving the 2007 draft is not for the faint of heart. With that said, enjoy!


The 2007 draft class was a bad thing and a good thing (for me). The negative impact of that class, the repercussions of which are only now starting to fade into the past, is one of the main reasons that I started this blog. I was so desperate for positive news from the farm that I started to really look at the system in-depth and thought that I would share my findings. The rest is, as they say, history.

Well, I was game to look at the 2007 class for the first time in a very long while. I planned to post my findings last week, but about halfway through my research, I found myself curled up in the dark in the fetal position calling for my mommy due to bad farm system flashbacks. (Actually, I just ran out of time, but the other makes for a better story.)

In any event, it was an amazingly poor class and time has not softened the wounds. Here is how it all played out. Keep tissues and antacid on hand (and perhaps a shot of the best whiskey available). I have indicated in parentheses whether the player was drafted out of college (C), junior college (JC) or high school (HS). Those who signed with the Astros are in bold.

[UPDATE: I've been asked by a few people how many players out of a draft can generally be expected to make it to the major leagues. This excellent post from Baseball America's Matt Eddy analyzed 22 drafts from 1987 through 2008 and found that approximately one in six drafted players who sign are expected to make it to the majors. Naturally, some will only make it for a cup of coffee, but it at least gives you an idea of what has happened in the past.]

1. The Astros lost the first round pick for signing Carlos Lee to a 6-year $100 million contract. Lee was an All-Star in 2007 and gave the team three 100+ RBI seasons before the descent in his skills (and his hustle) bottomed out in 2012. He was traded to Miami that season for 3B Matt Dominguez and LHP Rob Rasmussen in July of that year. Rasmussen was later traded to the Dodgers for RHP John Ely who never threw a pitch for the Astros and was released in November 2013. Dominguez hit .233/.274/.376 in 340 games for the Astros from 2012 through 2014; he started the 2015 season at AAA and was claimed off waivers by the Brewers in June 2015 (and subsequently was claimed from the Brewers by the Blue Jays in September 2015).

2. The Astros also lost their second round pick for signing RHP Woody Williams to a 2-year $12.5 million contract. For the first six million, Astros fans got eight wins (to 15 losses) and a league-leader in allowing home runs in 2007. When Williams was released in March 2008, he received a 6.5 million parting gift and the fans got bupkes.

3. 3B Derek Dietrich (HS) - Did not sign

Dietrich went on to be drafted by Tampa Bay in 2010 and was traded to Miami for Yunel Escobar. Dietrich made his MLB debut for Miami in 2013. In 2015, he split his time between AAA and the majors, hitting .256/.346/.456 in 90 games for the big league club (career line of .234/.317/.421 in 196 games).

4. RHP Brett Eibner (HS) - Did not sign

Eibner was drafted (as an outfielder) by the Royals out of the University of Arkansas in the second round in 2010. In 2015, he played for the Royals AAA affiliate, hitting .303/.364/.514 in 103 games.

5. OF Collin DeLome (C) - Released in 2012

DeLome played in the organization from 2007 until his release after playing in 10 games in 2012. He went on to play in the Braves organization and in independent ball in 2012 and 2013 and has a lifetime batting line of .256/.321/.467.

6. RHP David Dinelli (JC) - Released in 2008

Dinelli played in the system for two seasons and has subsequently spent seven years playing independent ball. He has a career ERA of 4.82 and WHIP of 1.652.

7. 2B Russell Dixon (C) - Released in 2010

Dixon played in the Astros system from 2007 through 2009 as an outfielder and was released prior to the 2010 season. His batting line was .238/.308/.329.

8. RHP Chad Bettis (HS) - Did not sign

Bettis was drafted by the Rockies in the second round in 2010 out of Texas Tech and made his major league debut August 1, 2013. In 2015, he was 8-6 with a 4.23 ERA and 1.409 WHIP in 20 starts at the major league level.

9. RHP Luis Pardo (C) - Released in 2008

Pardo played two seasons with the Astros, was briefly signed and then released by the Reds in early 2009, and then played in independent ball in 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015. He has a lifetime ERA of 5.89 and WHIP of 1.705.

10. 2B/3B Matt Cusick (C) - Traded in 2008

Cusick was traded to the Yankees in July of 2008 for LaTroy Hawkins and played with the Yankees and Angels organizations through 2011 and in independent ball in 2012. He has a lifetime batting line of .280/.366/.411. Hawkins was with the Astros for the remainder of 2008 and 2009 and had a 1.71 ERA and 1.091 WHIP in 89 games.

11. C/RHP Roberto Bono (HS) - Traded in 2009

Bono played in the Astros system from 2007 through 2009 before being included in a trade to the Marlins for RHP Matt Lindstrom in December 2009. He then played in the Marlins organization in 2010 and in independent ball in 2011, and ended his career with a 5.04 ERA and a 1.510 WHIP. Lindstrom pitched in 58 games for Houston in 2010 with a 4.39 ERA, 1.650 WHIP and 23 saves.

12. 1B Brian Pellegrini (C) - Released in 2011

Pellegrini played in the Astros system 2007 through 2010 and started the 2011 season on the DL before being released in May of that year. He had a .254/.358/.377 batting line.

13. LHP Chad Jones (HS) - Did not sign

This is one of the more remarkable stories associated with the players from the 2007 draft class. Jones was drafted again in the 50th round in 2010 by the Brewers and did not sign. Fast-forward to the 2013 draft and Jones was drafted by and signed with the Reds. What happened in between is a helluva story. He pitched in 16 games in 2013 (8.76 ERA and 2.757 WHIP) but did not pitch in 2014, spending the bulk of the season on the 60-day DL. He was placed on the restricted list in June 2015, but I wasn't able to find any details on his apparent suspension.

14. 3B Craig Corrado (C) - Released in 2010

Corrado played from 2007 to 2009, transitioning to a second baseman, before being released in March 2010. He had a .260/.292/.333 batting line.

15. RHP Matt Fitts (C) - Did not sign.

Fitts was drafted by Oakland in the 16th round in 2008 and played for them for two seasons, putting up a 4.92 ERA and a 1.580 WHIP.

[Are you still with me? Grab another shot of your best whiskey because, overall, it gets worse from here.]

16. OF Devon Torrence (HS) - Released in 2012

Torrence only played in the Houston system in 2007 and 2008, but did not receive his technical release until 2012. In the interim, he pursued a football career. In 2014, he played in one game in the Royals organization before being released and also played in two games in independent ball. His lifetime batting line is .152/.294/.171.

17. RHP Mason Roberts (JC) - Released in 2008

Roberts had a 10.50 ERA and a 2.611 WHIP in 12 games in 2007.

18. RHP Brian Espersen (C) - Released in 2008

Esperson had a 9.00 ERA and a 2.409 WHIP in 12 games in 2007.

19. C John Fixler (C) - Voluntary retirement in 2011

In five seasons in the Astros system, from 2007 through 2011, Fixler had a .229/.308/.402 batting line and a 26% caught stealing rate.

20. RHP Kyle Greenwalt (HS) - Released in 2012

Greenwalt pitched in the Astros system from 2007 through 2011 and then in independent ball in 2012 and 2013 and ended with a career 5.00 ERA and 1.470 WHIP.

21. C Kyle Miller (JC) - Released in 2009

Miller played from 2007 through 2009 as a corner infielder and put up a .234/.289/.376 batting line.

22. OF Drew Anderson (C) - Released in 2008

Anderson played in 2007 at second base with a .222/.294/.380 batting line.

23. 3B Charlie Gamble (C) - Released in 2008

Gamble had a .237/.305/.347 batting line in 2007.

24. SS Philip Stringer (C) - Released in 2008

Stringer played at second base and third base in 2007, hitting .166/.246/.205.

25. C Kevin Carkeek (C) - Released in 2008

Carkeek played in the Astros system for two seasons, hitting .215/.299/.296 with a 41% caught stealing percentage.

26. C Sal Iacono (C) - Released in 2008

Iacono played for two seasons, hitting .190/.312/.250 with a 34% caught stealing percentage.

27. RHP Brett Robinson (C) - Released in 2009

Robinson pitched in 61 games in 2007 and 2008 with a 5.19 ERA and 1.548 WHIP.

28. OF Jared Pitts (C) - Released in 2008

Pitts had a .181/.278/.262 batting line in his one season in 2007.

29. 2B Travis Sweet (C) - Released in 2008

Sweet played the outfield for the Astros in 2007 and 2008, hitting .210/.289/.359.

30. RHP Danny Gil (C) - Released in 2008

Gil played one season in the Astros system and had a 10.94 ERA and a 1.975 WHIP in 15 games. After his release, he was signed by the Nationals in 2008 and had a 2.12 ERA and 1.118 WHIP in 12 games before being released in 2009.

31. RHP Jason Dominguez (C) - Released in 2009

Dominguez pitched in the Astros system from 2007 through the early part of 2009 and had a 3.70 ERA and a 1.131 WHIP.

32. RHP David Miller (C) - Released in 2008

Miller pitched in the Astros system in 2007 and 2008, the Blue Jays and Marlins in 2009 and in independent ball in 2010 and 2011, compiling a career 5.27 ERA and 1.748 WHIP.

33. OF Cody Phipps (HS) - Released in 2008

Phipps hit .200/.273/.200 in his one season in 2007.

34. RHP Brian Wabick (JC) - Released in 2011

Wabick had a 4.50 ERA and 1.401 WHIP in 128 games from 2007 through 2010.

35. RHP Jordan Powell (C) - Released in 2010

Powell pitched in the Astros system from 2007 through 2009 and had a 4.33 ERA and a 1.565 WHIP in 108 games.

36. OF Albert Cartwright (JC) - Traded in 2011

Cartwright played in the Astros system in 2007 through 2010 before being traded to the Phillies in January of 2011 for LHP Sergio Escalona. Escalona appeared in 49 games for Houston that year with a 2.93 ERA and 1.265 WHIP and looked to be a lock for the 2012 bullpen until a fluke injury derailed his career. Cartwright sat out 2011 with an injury, but then played in the Phillies system from 2012 through 2014. He was signed by the Dodgers as a minor league free agent in January 2015, was subsequently released in May 2015 and went on to play independent league ball. He has a career batting line of .264/.333/.382.

37. RHP Jake Leonhardt (C) - Released 2008

Leonhardt pitched for two seasons for the Astros and two more seasons in independent ball and had a lifetime 4.38 ERA and 1.502 WHIP.

38. RHP Robbie Weinhardt (C) - Did not sign

Weinhardt was drafted by the Tigers in the 10th round in 2008 and played in their minor league system from 2008 through 2013 with a 2.84 ERA and a 1.270 WHIP. He made his major league debut in July 2010 and pitched in 30 games in 2010 and 2011 with a 6.39 ERA and 1.677 WHIP. He was released by the Tigers in October 2013. In 2015, he played for the Sugar Land Skeeters.

39. 3B/OF Brian Fletcher (HS) - Did not sign

Fletcher was drafted by the Royals in the 18th round in 2010 and played outfield in that system from 2010 through 2014. He was released by the Royals and picked up by the White Sox in April 2015 and now has a minor league career .279/.342/.457 batting line.

40. LHP Kyle Erdman (JC) - Did not sign

It does not appear that Erdman ever played professionally.

41. LHP Colton Pitkin (HS) - Released in 2012

Pitkin pitched in the Astros system from 2007 through 2011 and had a lifetime ERA of 4.82 and WHIP of 1.565.

42. OF Chris Turner (HS) - Released in 2009

Turner played for two seasons, 2007 and 2008, and hit .147/.211/.169.

43. OF Marques Williams (JC) - Released in 2009

Williams played from 2007 through 2009 with a .228/.285/.293 batting line.

44. SS Cat Everett (C) - Released in 2009

Everett toiled for the Astros from 2007 to 2008 and managed a .214/.320/.239 batting line during that time.

  • The Astros signed 34 players: 8 out of the top 15, and 26 out of the bottom 29. The highest pick to sign was at #5.
  • Of the 34 signed players, 30 were released, 3 were traded and 1 chose voluntary retirement.
  • Of the 30 released, 19 did not play in the Astros system beyond 2008 and 6 did not play beyond 2009. The final player to be released out of the final 5 was released on April 18, 2012. Only 2 out of the 30 players who were released appear to still be active in independent ball.
  • Of the 8 players who did not sign, 7 were re-drafted, 4 appear to still be active in organized baseball (and one is a question mark), 1 played independent ball in 2015, and 3 have made MLB debuts.
  • Of the 3 players who were traded, only 1 was active in 2015, playing in independent baseball.
  • GM Tim Purpura was fired approximately two months after the 2007 draft.
Some may be questioning why this is worth looking at after all these years. To you I would say, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Astros Farm Report: 10/18

Well, that was fun! (If you don't count the last two innings on Monday and the loss on Wednesday.) Seriously, I would have preferred seeing the Astros advance to the ALCS, but I couldn't get too worked up about the loss because: a) I know that the existing team will be able to build on that playoff experience, b) I know that there is still a ton of talent coming up through the Astros system that will help fill some of the holes, and c) I tend to have an optimistic take on things. I really do think that the minor league pipeline will keep flowing as long as the Astros front office doesn't do something silly like replace human scouts with robots or the like. Wait. What?

In this piece from Jon Heyman posted Friday (scroll down to the MLB notes for Houston), Heyman talks about the discontent in the Astros system amongst the non-player types for various reasons, such as the elimination of pension plans for non-uniformed personnel. He also dropped this little nugget:
They are saying they may use the TrackMan system more for scouting, which measures spin rate, launch angles and the like, thus giving a nod to robots.
I'm trying to imagine how Special Assistant to the GM Enos Cabell and Executive Advisor Nolan Ryan feel about that (and whether or not what they think would be fit for publication in a family blog such as this one). I know that the human element in life cannot be easily quantified, but those organizations who recognize the significant contribution of human knowledge, experience and instinct as a scouting tool and use that information to dovetail with the statistical side are the organizations that will ultimately succeed. At least that is my totally subjective, totally unprovable and totally human take on things.

Now on to other business ...

One correction from my post last Sunday: the original Baseball America transaction report showed that both Alex Presley and L.J. Hoes had elected free agency. That has since been corrected and only Presley elected free agency. Hoes is still in the system.


WTHB wishes a Very Happy Birthday to these players who celebrate birthdays this week:

10-18: RHP Riley Ferrell (22)
10-18: LHP Patrick Sandoval (19)
10-18: RHP Andrew Walter (25)
10-20: C/1B Ihan Bernal (19)
10-22: SS Joan Mauricio (19)


Here is how the Astros players participating in fall and winter leagues have fared to date (through Saturday, the 17th):

3B J.D. Davis - .143/.250/.571 in 2 games
OF Derek Fisher - .200/.500/.400 in 2 games
IF Chan-Jong Moon - .000/.000/.000 in 1 game
1B A.J. Reed - .000/.333/.000 in 2 games
LHP Chris Cotton - 9.00 ERA/2.000 WHIP in 1 game (1.0IP)
LHP Brian Holmes - 0.00 ERA/1.500 WHIP in 1 game (2.0IP)
LHP Albert Minnis - 5.40 ERA/1.200 WHIP in 1 game (1.2IP)
RHP Keegan Yuhl - 40.50 ERA/6.000 WHIP in 1 game (0.2IP)

C Tyler Heineman - .250/.625/.250 in 2 games
*1B/DH Tyler White - .250/.250/.375 in 2 games
RHP Jake Buchanan - 0.00 ERA/0.500 WHIP in 1 game (2.0IP)
LHP Reymin Guduan - 0.00 ERA/0.000 WHIP in 1 game (0.1IP)
RHP Jandel Gustave - 0.00 ERA/3.003 WHIP in 1 game (0.1IP)

*Has only played 1B and DH so far and hasn't caught yet.

IF Kristian Trompiz - 2 games as pinch runner; no at-bats
OF Danry Vasquez - .300/.364/.500 in 8 games
RHP James Hoyt - 0.00 ERA/0.923 WHIP in 4 games (4.1IP)

OF Leo Heras - .333/.500/.444 in 3 games
RHP Enrique Chavez - 9.00 ERA/3.000 WHIP in 1 game (1.0IP)
RHP Juan Robles - 0.00 ERA/0.429 WHIP in 2 games (2.1IP)