Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Looking Back at the Astros 2008 Draft Class

As promised, I'm going to continue with an offseason review of all the draft classes from the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad 2007 draft forward. Today we'll look at 2008, the first class from the Ed Wade/Bobby Heck era. Let's look at the numbers:

52 players drafted
32 players signed
2 players still in the Astros system (plus one drafted later)
16 players still active in affiliated or independent baseball in 2015*

27 position players drafted/15 signed/1 still in the system
11 from high school/4 signed/0 still in the system
5 from junior college/2 signed/0 still in the system
11 from college/9 signed/1 still in the system

25 pitchers drafted/17 signed/1 still in the system
11 from high school/6 signed/1 still in the system
8 from junior college/6 signed/0 still in the system
6 from college/5 signed/0 still in the system

*Of the 16 players who were still active in baseball in 2015, 12 of those were still playing in affiliated ball (four in independent leagues). Of the 12 players in affiliated ball, five are high school or junior college players who did not sign with Houston, but later signed with other teams, one was released (Shuck), one was traded (Lyles), one was re-drafted by Houston in a later year (Jankowski), two left via free agency (Seaton and Garcia), and two are still in the system from the original draft (Castro and Cruz). Four of the players have made their major league debuts: Castro, Lyles, Shuck and Armstrong.

Luis Cruz - September 2015
Photo by Jayne Hansen

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

1. C Jason Castro (C)

Castro is the only one from the 2008 draft class who is currently on the Astros major league team. In five seasons at the major league level (2010, 2012 - 2015), he has a .237/.309/.393 batting line and a 28% caught stealing percentage.

1s. RHP Jordan Lyles (HS) - Traded in December 2013

Lyles came as a supplemental pick as compensation for losing LHP Trever Miller in free agency. Lyles pitched in three seasons for Houston, going 14-29 with a 5.35 ERA and a 1.454 WHIP before being included in a December 2013 trade (along with outfielder Brandon Barnes) to the Rockies for OF Dexter Fowler and cash considerations. In his two seasons with the Rockies, Lyles is 9-9 with a 4.56 ERA and a 1.400 WHIP. Fowler spent one season with the Astros, hitting .276/.375/.399 in 116 games and was subsequently sent to the Cubs for RHP Dan Straily and corner IF Luis Valbuena in January 2015.

2. OF Jay Austin (HS) - Released in 2012

Austin did not play in 2013, but played in independent ball in 2014 and 2015 (hitting .306/.358/.458). He has a career batting line of .261/.323/.363.

3. 1B Chase Davidson (HS) - Did not sign

Davidson did not sign out of high school but later signed in 2011 as he was re-drafted by the Astros in the 41st round that year.

3s. RHP Ross Seaton (HS) - Left via free agency after the 2014 season

The Astros received this pick as compensation for not signing Derek Dietrich in 2007. Seaton made it as far as AAA for the Astros in 2014, but injuries derailed much of that season. He signed with Detroit as a minor league free agent in February. For his minor league career to date, he is 46-60 with a 4.83 ERA and a 1.385 WHIP.

4. OF T.J. Steele (C) - Released in 2012

Steele was released by the Astros in May 2012 and then signed on briefly with the Padres organization before being released by them in July 2012. In the 327 games of his career, he hit .247/.284/.379.

5. LHP David Duncan (C) - Released in 2012

Duncan was actually released by the Astros in 2010, but then re-signed by them in early 2011 only to while away on the DL that entire season. In 50 games (46 starts) from 2008 through 2010, he was 10-23 with a 5.78 ERA and a 1.444 WHIP.

6. OF J.B. Shuck (C) - Released in 2012

Shuck made his major league debut for the Astros on August 5, 2011, hitting .272/.359/.321 in 37 games. He then spent all of 2012 playing in Oklahoma City and was released at the end of that season despite hitting a very healthy .298/.374/.352. Shuck was signed by the Angels shortly after his release by the Astros in late 2012. He was subsequently purchased by the Indians in September 2014 and was then claimed off waivers by the White Sox in November 2014. He played in 79 games for the White Sox in 2015, hitting .266/.340/.350.

7. OF Jon Gaston (C) - Released in 2012

Gaston was released by the Astros in March of 2012 and spent time in independent ball and in the White Sox organization that year. After his release by the White Sox in June 2012, he continued to play in independent ball up through 2015. His career batting line is .256/.334/.449. Gaston also was one of the players who filed suit against the MLB for wage violations in minor league pay.

8. LHP Brad Dydalewicz (HS) - Released in 2012

Dydalewicz made it as far as Lancaster, but was released at the end of 2012 after putting up a career 6.41 ERA and 1.668 WHIP.

9. LHP Luis Cruz (HS)

Cruz played for Fresno for all of 2015 and went 7-5 with a 4.27 ERA and a 1.474 WHIP in 28 appearances (19 starts). He just turned 25 in September.

10. LHP Jarred Holloway (JC) - Released in 2010

Holloway only played in the organization for one season in 2008 (and did not play at all in 2009). In 13 starts, he was 0-5 with a 4.07 ERA and a 1.541 WHIP.

11. OF Jacob Priday (HS) - Released in 2010

Priday played only 32 games in the Astros system in 2008, hitting .216/.331/.324. He was on the restricted list for all of 2009 before being formally released in 2010.

12. SS Jeff Hulett (JC) - Released in 2009

Hulett played two seasons for the Astros (playing more at third base than at short) and then another three in independent ball. He had a career batting line of .216/.296/.293.

13. RHP Kyle Godfrey (JC) - Released in 2011

Godfrey played from 2008 through 2010 in the Astros system. After his release in March 2011, he played independent ball for one season. He had a career ERA of 4.14 and WHIP of 1.522.

14. RHP Chris Hicks (C) - Released in 2012

Hicks pitched in the organization from 2008 through his release in June 2012, although he missed the entire 2010 season on the DL. He made it as far as AAA and had a career ERA of 5.49 and a WHIP of 1.519.

15. C Phil Disher (C) - Released in 2010

Drafted as a catcher, Disher actually played first base for the organization in 2008 and 2009 before being released in early 2010. In a total of 110 games, he had a batting line of .257/.343/.451.

16. LHP Josh Poytress (HS) - Did not sign

Poytress was drafted by Pittsburgh in the 18th round in 2011 and played for them for two seasons before being released in early 2013. He played one more season in independent ball and had a career ERA of 3.57 and a WHIP of 1.422.

17. 2B Andy Simunic (HS) - Released in 2014

Simunic played in the Astros system until his release in early June of 2014. He was briefly picked up and subsequently released by the Braves organization. In his seven seasons with the system, he became a utility player, eventually playing at every position except catcher and hitting a career .276/.357/.339.

18. 3B David Flores (C) - Released in 2012

Flores played in the Astros system from 2008 through 2011 and was released in early 2012. For his career, he hit .258/.312/.430.

19. RHP Ashton Mowdy (JC) - Released in 2010

Mowdy pitched from 2008 to 2010, with a career 4.55 ERA and 1.477 WHIP.

20. C Shea Robin (C) - Did not sign

It appears that Robin never played professional baseball.

21. OF Rodarrick Jones (HS) - Did not sign

Jones was drafted by the Pirates in the 37th round in 2011 out of Southern University and A&M in Baton Rouge, and played in that system for two seasons, hitting .231/.352/.375 before his release in July 2012.

22. LHP Terrance Jackson (spelled Terrence in Baseball-Reference) (JC) - Did not sign

Jackson was subsequently drafted by the Mets in the 45th round in 2010 out of Oklahoma City University, but it appears that he did not sign with them either. According to B-R, his only professional experience was with a team in the Frontier League in 2011 for whom he pitched a total of 4.1 innings (12.46 ERA and 2.769 WHIP).

23. LHP Chase Huchingson (JC) - Did not sign

Huchingson was signed by the Mets as a non-drafted free agent in July 2010 and is still in their system, having reached AAA in 2015. He has a career 3.13 ERA and 1.330 WHIP in 183 games (374.1 innings) in the minor leagues but has not yet reached the majors.

24. OF Danny Meier (HS) - Released in 2009

After playing in only 64 games in the Astros system in 2008 and 2009, Meier was released in July 2009. He played in three additional games in the independent leagues as well in 2009. His career batting line was .196/.263/.366.

25. LHP Mike Hacker (JC) - Released in 2010

Hacker played in the Astros system in 2008 and 2009. After his release in March 2010, he played independent ball until signing with the Red Sox organization in July 2010. He was released by the Red Sox in July 2011 and played independent league ball through 2012. He has a career ERA of 4.68 and a WHIP of 1.626.

26. LHP Shane Wolf (C) - Released in 2012

Wolf pitched in the system from 2008 through 2011 with a career ERA of 5.08 and a WHIP of 1.468 before his release in January 2012.

27. RHP Nate Pettus (JC) - Released in 2012

Pettus pitched from 2008 through 2012 and was released in November 2012. For his career, he had a 4.60 ERA and a 1.504 WHIP.

28. RHP Zach Grimmett (HC) - Released in 2013

Grimmett was in the Astros system for five seasons. After his release in March of 2013, he was signed by the Phillies and spent a short time in that organization in May and June of 2013. For his career, he had a 6.62 ERA and a 1.635 WHIP.

29. SS Chris Jackson (C) - Released in 2010

Jackson spent two seasons in the organization, hitting .208/.269/.279 in 144 games.

30. 2B Mike Diaz (C) - Released in 2010

Diaz played two seasons in the Astros system. After his release in March 2010, he played a season in the independent leagues. Over his career, he hit .262/.316/.348.

31. RHP Philip Rummel (HS) - Released in 2010

Rummel was released in March 2010 after pitching in the Astros system for two seasons and went on to play one season of independent ball. He had a career ERA of 5.41 and a WHIP of 1.609.

32. SS B.A. Vollmuth (HS) - Did not sign

Vollmuth was drafted by Oakland in the 3rd round in 2011 out of the University of Southern Mississippi and played in that system from 2011 until his release in August of 2014. He had a career batting line of .231/.311/.391, playing mostly at third base.

33. RHP Shawn Armstrong (HS) - Did not sign

Armstrong was drafted by Cleveland in the 18th round in 2011 out of East Carolina University. He made his major league debut for the Indians on August 8, 2015 and compiled a 2.25 ERA and a 0.875 in eight appearances out of the bullpen.

34. C Jordan Jankowski (HS) - Did not sign

Jankowski did not sign as a catcher back in 2008, but was re-drafted by the Astros (again in the 34th round) in 2012 out of Catawba College as a RHP. He has a 3.17 ERA and a 1.149 WHIP for his career thus far.

35. C Rene Garcia (HS) - Left via free agency after the 2014 season

Garcia played in the Astros system from 2008 through the end of 2014 when he elected minor league free agency and signed with the Phillies. He split the 2015 season between that organization's AAA and AA affiliates. His career minor league batting line is .264/.303/.338, and his career minor league caught stealing percentage is 37%.

36. RHP Austin Wood (HS)

Wood was drafted by the Rays in the 4th round in 2010 and did not sign and then again in the 6th round in 2011 by the Angels -- this time he did sign. Woods was a highly ranked prospect in the Angels system after the 2012 season, but missed much of the 2013 and 2014 seasons due to injury. He spent the 2015 season with their AA affiliate and compiled a 3.95 ERA and a 1.431 WHIP in 31 appearances.

37. LHP Kirkland Rivers (C) - Released in 2010.

Rivers pitched in the Astros system for two seasons and then in independent league ball for another two seasons, ending his career with a 3.80 ERA and a 1.480 WHIP.

38. LHP Kris Castellanos (HS) - Did not sign

Castellanos played for Florida State one year and for Tampa University for one year, but it appears that he never played professionally.

39. C Tyson Van Winkle (C) - Did not sign

Van Winkle was drafted in the 10th round in 2009 by the Diamondbacks and played for four seasons in that organization with a career batting line of .231/.321/.293.

40. 2B Scott Lawson (JC) - Did not sign

Lawson was drafted by Tampa Bay in the 29th round in 2010 out of the University of Miami and played just one season in that organization, plus one additional season in independent ball. He had a career batting line of .273/.377/.407, playing at second base and third base.

41. OF Tony McClendon (HS) - Did not sign

McClendon was drafted again in 2010 in the 47th round by Oakland, but did not sign. I had assumed that he never played professionally until he showed up in independent ball in 2015, hitting .203/.257/.281 in 16 games for the Vallejo Admirals of the Pacific Association.

42. OF Ryan Danbury (JC) - Did not sign

It appears that Danbury did not ever play professionally.

43. C Austin Green (HS) - Did not sign

Green was drafted by the Tigers in the 13th round in 2013 out of the University of San Diego and has played three seasons in that organization with a batting line of .260/.310/.392.

44. C Edmond Sparks (JC) - Did not sign

It appears that Sparks never played professionally.

45. LHP Grayson Garvin (HS) - Did not sign

Garvin was drafted by Tampa Bay in the first round (supplemental) in 2011 out of Vanderbilt. In three seasons (2012-2014) in the Rays organization, he has a 3.75 ERA and a 1.224 WHIP. He did not play in 2015 and is shown as being on the 60-day DL.

46. LHP Mike Modica (C) - Did not sign

Modica was re-drafted by the Astros in the 24th round in 2009 and played for the Astros for two seasons before being released in April 2011. He had a 4.18 ERA and a 1.546 WHIP for his career.

47. OF Nathan Metroka (JC) - Released in 2009

Metroka played in the Astros system for two seasons, hitting .252/.317/.357.

48. RHP Danny Meszaros (C) - Released in 2013

Meszaros played in the system from 2008 through 2011 and sat out 2012 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. After his release in March 2013, he played one season of independent ball. He had a 4.07 ERA and 1.337 WHIP for his career.

49. RHP Chase Lehr (JC) - Released in 2009

Lehr pitched in the organization for one season with a 6.52 ERA and a 2.276 WHIP before his release in May of 2009.

50. OF Jamal Austin (HS) - Did not sign

Austin was drafted by Seattle in the 13th round in 2013 out of the University of Alabama at Birmingham and played in that organization until his release in April 2015. He continued to play in independent league ball in 2015 and has a career batting line of .291/.340/.363.

Previous draft reviews:

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Astros Farm Report: 10/25

Probably the biggest news to come out this week is that the Astros have already announced the vast majority of their 2016 minor league coaching staff, something that they normally wait until January to make public. More about that in a moment. First let's take a look at this week's birthdays and how the growing ranks of Astros playing fall and winter ball are faring.


10-25: RHP Gabriel Valdez (20)
10-28: OF Brauly Mejia (21)
10-29: RHP Adonis Pena (22)
10-29: 3B/1B/C Tyler White (25)
10-30: SS/2B Ozziel Sanchez-Galan (18)
10-31: 2B/OF Tony Kemp (24)


Here is how the Astros players participating in fall and winter leagues have fared to date (through Saturday, the 24th):

3B J.D. Davis - .133/.188/.333 in 4 games
OF Derek Fisher - .200/.400/.267 in 5 games
IF Chan-Jong Moon - .000/.222/.000 in 2 games
1B A.J. Reed - .200/.385/.300 in 6 games
LHP Chris Cotton - 3.00 ERA/0.667 WHIP in 3 game (3.0IP)
LHP Brian Holmes - 0.00 ERA/0.800 WHIP in 2 games (5.0IP)
LHP Albert Minnis - 3.38 ERA/1.500 WHIP in 2 games (2.2IP)
RHP Keegan Yuhl - 10.13 ERA/1.500 WHIP in 3 games (2.2IP)

Holmes has had the best start by far, but the other pitchers have rebounded from poor first outings.

C Tyler Heineman - .125/.300/.125 in 5 games
1B/DH Tyler White - .333/.481/.714 in 6 games
RHP Jake Buchanan - 0.00 ERA/0.571 WHIP in 2 games (7.0IP)
LHP Reymin Guduan - 0.00 ERA/1.125 WHIP in 3 games (2.2IP)
RHP Jandel Gustave - 0.00 ERA/0.600 WHIP in 2 games (1.2IP)
RHP Angel Heredia - 13.50 ERA/2.500 WHIP in 2 games (2.0IP)
RHP Juan Minaya - 6.75 ERA/1.250 WHIP in 2 games (4.0IP)

Tyler White continues where he left off at the end of the season and is having an excellent start to his Dominican journey, hitting .333/.481/.714 with two doubles, two home runs, six walks, and six RBI in six games. Jake Buchanan has won his first two games and he, Guduan and Gustave haven't allowed an earned run yet.

IF Kristian Trompiz - 2 games as pinch runner; no at-bats (DNP last week; he is playing in the Liga Paralela)
OF Danry Vasquez - .292/.340/.479 in 13 games
RHP James Hoyt - 0.00 ERA/0.818 WHIP in 7 games (7.1IP)

Vasquez has done very nicely as a regular starter for Caracas and Hoyt has yet to allow a run, earned or otherwise in his seven appearances for Lara (one walk to 11 strikeouts).

OF Leo Heras - .400/.600/.600 in 5 games
RHP Enrique Chavez - 9.00 ERA/3.000 WHIP in 1 game (1.0IP) - DNP last week
RHP Jose Hernandez - 0.00 ERA/0.500 WHIP in 1 game (2.0IP)
RHP Juan Robles - 0.00 ERA/0.857 WHIP in 3 games (4.2IP)

Solid starts from Heras, Hernandez and Robles!

C Jake Bowey - .000/.333/.000 in 1 game
IF Jared Cruz - .077/.077/.077 in 4 games
1B Connor MacDonald - .417/.500/.750 in 4 games
IF/OF Marc Wik - .400/.538/.500 in 3 games
RHP Kevin Comer - 40.50 ERA/5.997 WHIP in 1 game (0.2IP)

MacDonald and Wik are off to great starts, but Comer needs a mulligan.


Baseball America posted their 2015 Astros draft report card yesterday and the full article is behind a paywall, but you can read part of it here. Lots of love for Alex Bregman!

In addition to some Astros front office reshuffling as it pertains to the minor leagues, the Astros also announced the 2016 minor league coaching staff last week. In case you missed the post from Thursday, here is the full Astros press release regarding minor league staffing and here are a few items of note:
  • The list is incomplete at this point, notably the rookie level Appy League Greeneville Manager position is currently open with 2015 Greeneville Manager Lamarr Rodgers taking the helm of the Short Season A Tri-City team. Rodgers led the 2015 Appy Astros team to a League Championship and he will be replacing Ed Romero who was non-renewed following the 2015 season.
  • Dyar Miller will be taking over as Pitching Coach for the AAA Fresno Grizzlies as 2015 Grizzlies Pitching Coach Ace Adams moves to Tri-City in Troy, New York, bringing the Massachusetts native much closer to his home turf. Adams will be taking over for 2015 Tri-City Pitching Coach Chris Holt as Holt moves to that position for Greeneville. Josh Miller, the 2015 Greeneville Pitching Coach, will be moved to a coordinator position.
  • Michael Burns, a former Astros relief pitcher and a rehab coach in the Astros system for the last two seasons, is taking over as Pitching Coach for the High A Lancaster JetHawks team, a position that was formerly held by Don Alexander, a long time Astros minor league coach who was non-renewed after the 2015 season. We wish him luck in handling one of the hardest coaching positions in the Astros system!
  • Erik Abreu, a former Astros minor leaguer who was well respected by his peers, coaches and managers during his playing days, moves from coaching in the Dominican Summer League and will become the Pitching Coach for the rookie level Gulf Coast League Astros team.
  • Dave Borkowski (Quad Cities) and Doug Brocail (Corpus Christi) are the only two domestic pitching coaches who will remain with their 2015 teams. However, it was reported earlier this week that Brocail is being considered by Detroit Tigers Manager Brad Ausmus as a candidate for Pitching Coach for that team.
  • Other than the Manager changes for Tri-City and Greeneville, the other managers (at least for the domestic teams) will remain in place as will the Hitting Coaches at all but the Gulf Coast League team.
  • Also of note is that Wladimir Sutil will be back working with Josh Bonifay as he joins the Quad Cities coaching staff after a season with the Gulf Coast League team. Sutil, a former Astros minor leaguer, coached under Bonifay with the 2014 Greeneville Astros team. It appears from the outside that Bonifay is mentoring Sutil as the Astros groom him to be a possible internal minor league manager candidate at some point.
  • And finally, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the creation of a new position to be manned by Astros minor league coach Morgan Ensberg, that of "mindset coach." It is just the latest example of the Astros front office thinking outside the box. I will be interested in seeing how the position plays out. If it works out, perhaps the Astros front office will finally consider my suggestion from a while back of hiring me as the minor league player ombudsman. I won't hold my breath, though.
But that brings me to my thoughts on this next story that came out this week ...

For every top draft pick that gets a big payday, there are dozens and dozens of minor league players who get very little when they sign. And they get even less going forward as they are paid well below minimum wage as the trade-off for chasing their dreams. A lawsuit filed by former minor league players in February 2014 with respect to the minor league wage structure received a boost this week as a District Court in San Francisco ruled that the suit could be certified as a class action suit and would be open to current and former minor league players.

The concept that minor league baseball should be unpaid or paid only far below minimum wage as an internship or apprenticeship belies the fact that the players have to find a roof over their heads, transportation to the ballpark and the funds to eat healthy, nutritional meals that will help them perform at a high level. Imagine making the low end $1100 a month and having to do all of that (and, oh, by the way, don't forget to pay your clubhouse dues out of that amount). And if you come from a poor family who can't help support you and/or if you don't even speak the language ... oh well.

Yes, there are many players who love the game so much that they would play for free just to get the chance to make it professionally. And, yes, major league baseball will continue to take advantage of those players and that mindset. But just because the powers that be can take advantage of that fact doesn't mean that it's a morally sound business practice. There is enough money being made in baseball to throw a crumb to the minor league players (and NOT at the expense of the minor league team ownership). And if the players made just a tiny bit more, they probably wouldn't need a minor league ombudsman. Just sayin'.