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Friday, November 30, 2007

A few tidbits about the Rule 5 Draft

The Rule V draft comes up in less than a week(December 6). A few names to watch out for on draft day:

Vincent Sinisi... The Rice product seems to be stuck behind 1B Adrian Gonzalez in the Padres system. He hit .303 in 80 games in Portland, Oregon this season. He is also hitting above .300 this winter in the Dominican Republic. I'm a bit biased toward him. I grew up as a Rice fan(as well as an Astro fan). If I'm not mistaken Sinisi was playing first base and made the final put out when the Owls won the national title in 2003.

Lincoln Holdzkom... The Astros drafted him from the Cubs in last year's Rule V. He didn't do anything this year to lessen his value. He spent the year in the Red Sox system. With Portland(AA) and Pawtucket(AAA) he pitched 63 2/3 innings with 54 strikeouts and a 2.97 ERA. Does he get another shot in Osceola County.

Finally, a team can only participate in the Rule V draft if they have less than 40 players on their roster. A quick count shows that only 16 teams are eligible this year.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Dave Clark reportedly to manage Round Rock in '08

According to Brian McTaggart of the Houston Chronicle, Dave Clark will be named to replace Jackie Moore as the manager of the Round Rock Express. The announcement is expected to be made Friday. Clark has managed the AA Hooks for the last three years. Jackie Moore, who had been the Express manager since the franchise began, will be Cecil Cooper's bench coach in Houston. Just a side note, McTaggart does an excellent job for the Chronicle covering the minor leagues, especially during the season. If you don't visit his blogs and articles, I recommend it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Two Astros non-roster invitees active in Venezuela

Tomas Perez and Steven Randolph who the Astros signed to minor-league contracts Wednesday are getting ready for Spring Training by playing in Venezuela. Infielder Tomas Perez is playing for Navegantes along with Luke Scott and Mark Saccomanno. He is hitting .336(39 for 116) with eight RBI. Perez spent the 2007 season at AAA Las Vegas and Charlotte. Randolph has started six games in Venezuela for Tiburones. The left-hander has 28 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings and a 4.24 ERA. Randolph spent th 2007 season with AAA Round Rock and the Astros. The Astros also signed Kevin Hooper-IF and Jose Cruz, Jr. -OF to minor league contracts.

Baseball America's Jim Callis on Astros farm system

Jim Callis of Baseball America spoke with Charlie Pallilo of Houston's 790 the Sports Animal Wednesday. The podcast is available at the above link.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Rule 5 Draft Eligible Astros

Next week's Owners' meetings in Nashville wrap up with the Rule V Draft on Thursday, December 6. The Astros set their 40-man roster on Tuesday, meaning the following players are vulnerable to being picked up.

First time eligible(2007 team)
Drew Sutton-IF(Corpus Christi)
Neil Sellers-IF(Corpus Christi)
Beau Torbert-OF(Corpus Christi, Round Rock)
Ryan Thompson-P(Corpus Christi)
Lou Santangelo-C(Corpus Christi)
Jonny Ash-IF(Corpus Christi)
Evan Englebrook-P(Salem)
Jeff Wigdahl-P(Salem)
Ole Sheldon-IF(Salem)
Wladimir Sutil-IF(Salem)
Ryan Reed-OF(Salem)
Jordan Parraz-OF(Lexington)

2nd plus time of eligibility
Chance Douglass-P(Round Rock)
Jared Gothreaux-P(Round Rock)
Josh Muecke-P(Round Rock/Corpus Christi)
Mark Saccomanno-IF(Round Rock)
Edwin Maysonet-IF(Corpus Christi)
Ryan McKeller-P(Salem/Corpus Christi)
Kyle Middleton-P(Corpus Christi)
Jeff Mackor-C(Corpus Christi)
Raymar Diaz-P(Salem)
Jose Lopez-C(Salem)
Pat Osborn-IF(Salem)
Cesar Quintero-OF(Salem)

I am searching some sites that have more indepth coverage of all the teams' rule v eligible players. I will be passing on that information or at least a good link to it, as soon as I get it. One note: the players listed above are based on my research. I don't have any inside information from the Astros' offices.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Caribbean Closeup

Another week has passed in the Venezuelan and Dominican winter leagues. Notable performances by Astros prospects:

Dominican Republic:

Sergio Severino had his first rough outing of the season. He gave up 3 ER in 1/3 inning and saw his ERA balloon from 0.00 to 6.23 over 4 1/3 IP.
Polin Trinidad had back to back scoreless outings to lower his ERA to 6.00 in 9 IP.
Yordany Ramirez raised his average up over .300. Ramirez is 14/46(.304) with one double, one triple, eight RBI and 2 stolen bases.

Luke Scott is currently on an 0 for 11 skid. His average has dropped to .198.
Kyle Middleton has seven starts, 33 2/3 IP, and a 3.48 ERA. He has six walks and 24 Ks.
Victor Garate continues to be the left-handed specialist, though not quite as effectively as early in the season. Garate has 1 5 appearances covering 5 2/3 innings. His ERA has jumped to 4.76.
Cesar Qunitero is 21 for 77(.273) with 2 home runs and a .707 OPS.
Mark Saccomanno is 20 for 78(.256) with two homeruns, 14 RBI and a .730 OPS.

Minor League RoadTrip Anyone?

With the right combination of planes and rental cars, the dedicated Farmstro fan can see the home opener of the top four Astro farm clubs next April. The trip begins April 3 at Whataburger Field in Corpus Christi where the AA Hooks take on Tulsa(Rockies affiliate). Mitch Einertson, Billy Hart are likely to make their AA debut. Next stop is April 4 in Salem, Virginia, where the High A Avalanche take on Nationals affiliate Potomac. How many will Bud Norris strikeout? How will Koby Clemens adjust to High A ball? After Salem, take your time getting to Lexington, Kentucky, where the Legends are slated to take on Boston's Low A farm team Greenville. See who survived from last year's paltry draft class. Colin Delome? Jason Dominguez? Take a few days to stop-over at Minute Maid Park and see the Astros opening week April 8 and 9 vs. St. Louis. (Sorry, the home opener conflicts with Lexington) Finally, wrap-up your journey on April 11 in Round Rock where the likes of Felipe Paulino, Tommy Manzella, and Johnny Ash will hit the field against the Mets AAA team, New Orleans. Once you're done, take a break than come back to for the rest of the season.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Lavigne Allows a Run

Meanwhile in Mexico, Tim Lavigne's opponent was just thankful to get a run. On Thursday, Lavigne gave up a walk-off bases loaded single in the bottom of the tenth inning. The run ended Lavigne's seventeen inning scoreless streak. Lavigne has allowed only 2 runs in 22 1/3 innings this winter. Ironically, both runs resulted in losses. Lavigne is 0 and 2 with an 0.89 ERA. The run Thursday came at the end of a 1 2/3 inning appearance for the right-hander. If his time in Mexico is any indication, the Astros would be well-served to hold onto this minor league free agent for the 2008 season.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Paulino's first start in Venezuela

Felipe Paulino had a strong first start in Venezuela to be thankful for on Thursday. Paulino gave up four hits in 4 2/3 scoreless innings. He also walked one and struck out four on Turkey Day.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

40-man roster set

The Astros set their 40-man roster Tuesday. I thought they may add a few more players than they did. Apparently, Ed Wade, et. al have quite a few free agents additions, trades, and perhaps even Rule V draftees in their future plans. That said, the three players added: Chad Reineke, Brad James, and Sammy Gervacio were 1,2, and 5 in my predictions. They were also the top three pitchers on my list. Pitching is definitely the most important to protect if you've got it. Also, not surprisingly Jimmy Barthmaier was released. As it stands now, the roster is at 34 players.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

40 Man roster updates

November 20 is the deadline for teams to submit their 40-man rosters. The Astros currently have 31 players on the 40-man roster. It is common practice to leave a few spots open for free agents signings. The only two players on the 40 man who are likely to be dropped are Paul Estrada-P, who struggled in 2007 at Round Rock and Jimmy Barthmeier-P, who struggled even more at Corpus and in the Arizona League this Fall. Having said this, I predict the team will add seven to nine players to the roster before the deadline. Without going into all the ramifications of the annual Rule V draft, players drafted out of high school in 2003 or drafted or signed beyond high school age in 2004 need to be added to the 40 man roster this fall or else they will be eligible to be drafted in next month's Rule V draft. The Astros have 15 players who fall into this pool. Out of these 15, here's the order they will be placed onto the roster...

1. Chad Reineke-RP(2007-Round Rock)- put up good numbers in Arizona this Fall.
2. Brad James-RHP(Salem/Corpus)
3. Lou Santangelo-C(Corpus)- If Towles works out, he could be trade bait.
4. Johnny Ash-IF(Corpus)
5. Sammy Gervacio-RP(Salem/Corpus)- May land in Houston by September.
6. Beau Torbert-OF(Corpus/Round Rock)
7. Sellers-IF(Corpus)
8. Sutton-IF(Corpus)
9. Wladamir Sutil-IF(Salem)

That's my nine. Arizona Fall League wrapped up today and Hawaii ends this weekend. I'll try to review those seasons next week. Plus, after the 40-man roster is finalized I'll tell you what I know about the new additions.

Hawaii Winter League wrap-up

The North Shore Honu, whose roster includes four Astros prospects, were awarded the League title when Monday's championship game was rained out.

The Astros prospects:
Lou Santangelo, C. Santangelo finished hot with seven hits and six RBI in the final seven games. His season totals .304(24/79).

Bud Norris, RHP. Norris was impressive all season. He ended the season with 33 strikeouts in 24 2/3 innings. He had a 3.65 ERA in seven appearances(six starts).

Sean Walker, RHP. The Baylor product made two starts and six total appearances. In 192/3 innings he had 15 strikeouts and a 3.20 ERA.

Billy Hart, IF. Hart didn't show the bat that won him the 2007 Carolina batting title. Hart, who joined the Honu in mid-season , struggled with a .171 average(6/35).

Chris Johnson, IF. Johnson started the season in Hawaii and for reasons beyond my knowledge left early. He was 4 for 13 a .308 average.

Monday, November 19, 2007

News from Venezuela and the Dominican

As the U.S.-based fall seasons draw to a close, games in Venezuela, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic are going strong. Since Dennis Sarfate hasn't appeared in Mexico in several weeks and Tim Lavigne merits his own report, this update will focus on the other two countries.


Felipe Paulino made his first appearance Sunday. He pitched one scoreless inning.
OF Ceasar Quintero(Salem in 2007) is hitting .282(20/71) with three doubles, two home runs and six RBI.
IF Mark Saccomanno(RR in 2007) has 13 RBI and two home runs to go with a .250 average(18 for 72).

Dominican Republic...

Recent signee OF Yordany Ramirez is hitting .286(12/42). He has one triple and seven RBI.
P Sergio Severino(Lexington in 2007) has appeared in four games pitching 3 1/3 scoreless innings.

Lavigne Continues Rolling In Mexico

Tim Lavigne gave up a home run about four weeks ago and not much since then. Lavigne, who played for the Hooks part of last year, gave up go-ahead home run on in the top of the ninth inning against Mochis. Since that setback, the minor league free agent has thrown 15 1/3 scoreless innings and recorded six saves running his total to seven. His ERA is at a miniscule 0.44 in the Mexican Pacific League.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Two Circus Catches by Yordany Ramirez in Portland

You Tube has the following footage of two impressive catches in one game by recent Astros' signee Yordany Ramirez. The game took place in July of 2007 when Ramirez was playing for Portland of the Pacific Coast League.

Anderson Traded

Hopefully, we will look back at this day as the first positive impact that Director Of Latin American Scouting, Felix Francisco had on the Astros. The Astros reportedly only traded 25 year-old Josh Anderson to the Braves for Oscar Villarreal once they had an even younger outfielder, 23 year old Yordany Ramirez in the fold. Ramirez, from the Dominican, came up through the Padres organization. The Astros are so impressed by him that they included him on the 40 man roster despite his having fewer than 125 at bats in Triple AAA . What does Ed Wade have up his sleeve next?

Arizona Wrap-Up

The Arizona Fall League has ended. Not surprisingly, some Astros prospects impressed while others struggled during the month and a half season...

Tommy Manzella- The infielder hit .302(15/53) with four doubles and four RBIs.
Josh Flores- The outfielder went 14 for 48(.292) with four steals and four doubles.
Mitch Einertson- The Carolina League 2007 MVP hit .260(19/73) with four HRs and 12 RBIs.
Josh Muecke- The lefty appeared in 13 games. He had a 1.56 ERA over 17 1/3 innings.
Chad Reineke- The right-hander struck out 14 batters in 14 innings.

The strugglers:
Brad James- The right-handed starter was strong in his first few starts however, late season struggles saw his season end with a 7.00 ERA in 18 innings over 6 appearnaces.
Jimmy Barthmaier- The right-handed starter added to his difficulties at Corpus in 2007. His Arizona numbers: 11 games, 13 IP, 9.69 ERA. Don't be surprised if he is dropped from the 40 man roster next week. Maybe even in another organization by April 2008.
Mike Costanzo- The third player in the Brad Lidge trade did hit 10 HRs and drive in 24 runs in Arizona. However, the third baseman also struck out 32 times and batted .189(17/90).

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Van Ostrand Done In Taiwan

The only Farmstro playing in the Baseball World Cup didn't make it out of the qualifying round. James Van Ostrand and his Canadian teammates lost their final game to Australia finising fifth in their group Wednesday. Van Ostrand played in six games going eight for 20(.400).

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Minor League Free Agents

Thanks to Baggy's Baseball for the link that led to the following information. Baseball America lists the following minor-league free agents

Houston Astros (24)
Righthanders: Brian Gordon, Tim Lavigne, German Melendez, Josh Miller, Chan Ho Park(Rumored to be LA bound), Jose Rodriguez, Levi Romero??, Matt Sweeney, Ronnie Ventura
Lefthanders: Philip Barzilla, Enyelbert Soto
Catchers: Danny Fatheree(coached Corpus in 2007), Hector Gimenez
First baseman: Michael Johnson
Second basemen: Brooks Conrad, Jesse Garcia, Drew Saylor
Shortstops: Osvaldo Fernando, Danny Klassen
Outfielders: Francisco Caraballo, Tim Raines, Michael Rodriguez, Ray Sadler, Barry Wesson

??Romero did not appear on any Astros minor league team in 2007 that I could find.

Friday, November 9, 2007

World Cup Canadian, New Farmstro, and Lavigne still Hot

James Van Ostrand, who made a splash by hitting a homerun for the World Team in the 2007 Futures Game is representing Canada this Fall at the World Cup in Taiwan. Van Ostrand, who spent the 2007 season at Lexington started in the Outfield and picked up a hit in Canada's first game of the tournament Wedneday.

The newest Farmstro is Mike Costanzo, the third player in the recent Brad Lidge/Michael Bourn deal. Costanzo spent the 2007 at AA Reading hitting .270 with 27 HRs, and 86 RBIs. On the downside, Costanzo had 157 strikeouts. He is playing for the Peoria Saguaros in the Arizona Fall League currently. He is hitting .169(12 for 71) this fall.

TIm Lavigne continues to pitch well in Mexico. Lavigne totals for the winter season. 14 2/3 innings, 12 appearances with 0.61 ERA.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Winter Baseball Update: Luke Scott in Venezuela

As Ed Wade and the Astros begin filling out their outfield roster for 2008, Luke Scott is trying to get his swing going in Venezuela. Scott struggled at the beginning of the winter season, however, he has his average up to .233(10/43) with 2 home runs and 9 RBIs.
News from other Winter Leagues:

Josh Flores continues to swing well(13/44) .295 with ten runs and four steals.
Mitch Einertson has gotten more playing time recently. He is 11 for 38-.289 with three Home Runs and nine RBIs.
Josh Muecke has made nine appearances and has a 2.19 ERA in 12 1/13 innings.
Chad Reineke has 13 strikeouts and 1.80 ERA in 10 IP over 7 appearances.

Lou Santangelo is still batting over .300(17/56-.304)

Victor Garate is still a left-handed specialist of note: 4 2/3 scoreless innings over 11 appearances. Garate has picked up one save.
Kyle Middleton has a 1.71 ERA in 21 IP over four starts.


Tim Lavigne continues shutting down opponents. He has allowed only one run in 13 innings. He has three saves and an 0.69 ERA in 11 outings.

The Arizona and Hawaii leagues wrap up in mid-November just before the November 20 deadline for the Astros to set their 40 man roster.