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Friday, December 28, 2007

Rookie League Astros get Another Competitor

Farmstros who spend the 2008 season with the Rookie Level Greeneville, TN affiliate won't have as many off days as the 2007 team. Pulaski, Virginia, now affiliated with Seattle, rejoined the Appalachain League 10 teams, thus eliminating a schedule full of off days that was followed last season. The Toronto Blue Jays severed their affiliation with the Virginia franchise after the 2006 season, leaving the league a team short. The 2008 season begins June 17. The Pulaski team makes their only visit to Greeneville August 14-16. The Astros make their only trip to Pulaski August 18-20.

Back from the Holidays---Several Signings

The Astros announced signings of players from the far North and from the South.

THE NORTH
The Astros purchased the contract of 2007 Northern League Rookie of the Year, Mike Just. The 24 year old second baseman hit .336 with 24 doubles, four triples and a team high 20 stolen bases for the Fargo-Moorhead Red Hawks. Just led the league's second basemen with a .990 fielding percentage. He made only five errors in over 500 chances. Just spent the 2006 with River City of the Frontier League after completing his collegiate career at Liberty University.
The complete article on the transaction is posted here...http://www.oursportscentral.com/services/releases/?id=3572601

THE SOUTH
The Astros announced the signings of four Carribean teenagers this summer.
From Colombia: Danilo Del Rio, 16, RHP
From D.R.: Hector Rodriguez, 17, SS
From Venezuela: Rafael Faria, 17, RHP and Ernesto Genoves, 16, C.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Night Before Christmas(A Farmstros Version)

As the celebration of the Savior's birth approaches, my Christmas gift to all the Farmstro readers is a new rendering of the classic poem "The Night Before Christmas." Please read and enjoy and have a Merry Christmas.

TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS(A FARMSTROS VERSION)

Twas the night before Christmas in the Farmstro house
Not a creature was stirring not even a mouse.
The caller IDs were turned on with great care
In hopes Ed Wade’s number soon would be there.

The prospects were nestled all snug in their beds
While visions of Minute Maid danced in their heads.
And Ma in her Hooks shirt, I in Valley Cats cap
Had just settled down for a Hot Stove League nap.

When from the new Dell there arose such a clatter
I slid out of my bed to see what was the matter.
The house it was dark , ‘cept the glow of the screen
And the DSL box with its high tech green gleam

I picked up my ‘lanche towel, rubbed the sleep from my eyes
Then there on the screen was a Christmas surprise.
In a suit of brick red, looking sharp as a bill
Was an erudite man who resembled George Will.
His ear held a phone, He read scouting reports
His briefcase held printouts of various sorts.

He spoke to the sky and his charges arrived
They were ready it seemed for a new pennant drive
“On Hunter, On Puma, On J.R., and Miggy
Caballo, and Ausmus, Now, Kazu, and Wiggy
To the top of the standings the Central will fall
Now swing away, swing away, swing away all.”

He then lay a finger aside of his nose,
“I hope I find pitching to augment Roy O’s”

Then the man in the brick red suit put his notes down
Relaxed for a moment, his eyes looked around.
He dialed his phone, and I saw a great sight
The phones of the prospects lit up in the night.

He left each a message after their phone did ring
“Please join me in Florida this upcoming Spring. From there on to Salem, or Corpus, who knows?
Or Lexington, Round Rock we’ll see how it goes.
You may not reach Houston ‘til 2010
But I’ll watch your swinging and pitching ‘til then.”

He hung up his phone and my Dell booted down
The prospects still snoring the home’s only sound.
As his face on the monitor faded from sight,
“Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.”

A new Farmstro

After further review, JackCassel, is officially a Farmstro. For your information, my definition of a Farmstro is a player in the Houston system who has never been on a major league roster except for during the September call-up period or the off-season. The right-hander, Cassel, 28, did spend some time in a San Diego uniform last Fall, going 1 and 1 with a 3.97 ERA in six appearances(23 IP). However, all appearances occurred in September so Cassel is still eligible for his Farmstro membership card.

Three Farmstros Released

Three Farmstros were released over the past weekend according to Baseball America. (A sidenote: I received a subscription to BA as a Christmas present, so as a minor league junkie, I am pretty excited). Eric King, IF, a 13th round pick in 2005 spent 2007 at Salem hitting .229. Tim Johnson, IF, a 7th round pick in 2005 spent a third straight season at Greeneville hitting .186. Kevin Fox, LHP, a 15th round pick in 2006, spent the season at Tri-City posting a 7.77 ERA. Now that I have my BA, I'll give you as many updates as I can of these types of moves.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A whole lotta shaking

Just to recap as a result of the Astros picking up Miguel Tejada and Jose Valverde, a few Farmstros are no longer...Farmstros. For those of you scoring at home, mark Dennis Sarfate, Mike Costanzo, Juan Gutierrez, and Troy Patton of your Farmstro scorecard.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Clemens to catch in Salem

The Houston Chronicle had an interview with Roger Clemens today about the Tejada trade and other issues of the day. Farmstros was most interested in the revelation that Koby Clemens is preparing to catch for Salem in 2008. Apparently, Max Sapp(drafted in the first round of 2006) has been passed on the depth chart. Sapp and Clemens were both at Lexington last season. Sapp hit .241 with only two home runs in 300 plus at bats. Clemens hit .252 with 15 HRs and 56 RBI in 400 plus ABs. Sapp's numbers don't merit a jump to AA, so if Clemens is the regular catcher at Salem in 2008, Sapp appears to be heading for another year as a Legend.

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/sports/bb/5374478.html

Seven sign minor league contracts

As a seeming afterthought to all the activity at the major league level Wednesday, the Astros also announced the signing of seven minor leaguers for the 2008 season. All seven were in the Astros system in 2007. None of them received major league training camp invites, and they all appeared headed to Corpus or Round Rock in 2008.

Brian Gordon-RHP(CC/RR in 2007)
Todd Self-1B/OF(CC)
Danny Klassen-IF(RR)
Ray Sadler-OF(Corpus team MVP in 2007)
Kyle Middleton-RHP(Led Corpus in saves in 2007)
Josh Miller-RHP(CC/RR)
Frankie Caraballo-OF(CC)

There is an article with further information on all the signees plus the Cruz, Jr., Randolph, Perez, and Hooper, signed earlier this off-season at the Round Rock Express website.

http://www.roundrockexpress.com/default.asp?PageId=84&ArticleId=1514

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Gutierrez takes the Hill in Venezuela

Juan Gutierrez made his first appearance in this year's Venezuelan League Monday. Gutierrez pitched two scoreless innings gave up one hit and one walk. He struck out one batter.

Winter Leagues Winding Down

Winter League baseball is nearing its conclusion in a few weeks. The Dominican League regular season ends December 22. The Venezuelan and Mexican leagues run unitl December 30. Players with Astros ties are active in all three leagues...

Venezuela:
Luke Scott and his .211 average haven't appeared in a game since November 25.
Ryan Houston(who the Astros just claimed off of waivers) has nine saves and an 0.60 ERA. He has appeared in 14 games striking out nine in 15 innings.
Tomas Perez has struggled (3 for 28) since signing a minor league contract with Houston. His stats. for the whole season .280(40 for 143)
Felipe Paulino has made three starts(four total appearances) pitching 13 innings striking out 15 and posting a 3.46 ERA.
Kyle Middleton pitched four scoreless innings Sunday dropping his ERA to 3.11 in eight starts(37 2/3 IP).
Mark Saccomanno has 14 RBI and .253 BA(20/79).
Paul Estrada has an 0.82 ERA(nine games, 11 IP, and eight strikeouts).
Cesar Quintero is hitting .259(21/81) with seven RBI.

Dominican
Yordany Ramirez is hitting .276(16/58)
Polin Trinidad has pitched 11 innings in 11 games(5.73 ERA).

Mexico
Tim Lavigne has appeared in 22 games and posted seven saves. His ERA is 2.13 in 25 1/3 IP.

Houston comes to... Houston

The Astros added a spice of Houston to their roster Wednesday. The team claimed right-handed reliever Ryan Houston off of waivers from Toronto further bolstering their bullpen possibilities for the 2008 season. Houston spent the 2007 with Triple A Syracuse, appearing in 50 games and striking out 62 in 60 2/3 innings. Houston, 28, was drafted by Toronto in 1998 and has spent his entire career in their minor league system.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Six Scoreless for Randolph

Steven Randolph threw six scoreless innings in his most recent start in Venezuela last Friday. The left-hander allowed four hits, walked three and struck out 4 in his most effective outing of the winter season. His ERA is still over five in eight starts.

Last Chance to See Farmstros in Virigina

2008 will be the final season to see Astros' prospects in Salem. The purchase of the Salem Avalanche by the Boston Red Sox was announced at a press conference in Salem yesterday. The Avalanche's affiliation with Boston will begin in 2009, ending a six year staywith the Carolina League franchise for the Astros' farm system. A new high A affiliate for the Astros can't be negotiated until after the 2008 season, when their agreement with Salem expires. Currently Lancaster of the California League is Boston's High A affiliate. The Florida State, Carolina, and California Leagues comprise the three High A minor leagues.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Pujols to lead Hooks

Thanks to Jerry in Arkansas for pointing out that the Corpus Christi Hooks have named Luis Pujols as the second manager in franchise history. Pujols will replace Dave Clark who has been promoted to Round Rock for the 2008 season. Pujols has 19 years of professional coaching exprience, including 155 games as the Detroit Tigers manager in 2002. He has never coached in the Astros system, although he began his playing career with the franchise and played in Houston from 1977-83. The full story on Pujols is available at the Corpus Christi Hooks website...www.cchooks.com. Thanks again, Jerry.

Round Rock 2008

The new year starts in three weeks which means spring training will be here soon. Here's my preliminary guess at what the Round Rock roster will look like on Opening Day. One caveat: This predicition is subject to change as a result of further off-season moves by Ed Wade.

Starting Pitchers
Gutierrez
Paulino
Nieve
Douglass
Muecke
(Bogusevic and James could be coming up during the summer)

Bullpen
Middleton
Reineke
Barzilla
Randolph
Wright(I think Wade will work out a deal to keep him)
Norrito
Gothreaux
(Keep an eye on Gervacio from Corpus)

Starting Lineup
Saccomanno-1B
Ash-2B
Manzella-SS
Costanzo-3B
(Costanzo and Saccomanno in the lineup seems like a Seinfeld theme night waiting to happen)
Santangelo-C
Ramirez-RF
Torbert-LF
Abercrombie-CF

Bench
Quintero
Perez
Hooper
Wesson
(Keep an eye on Einertson, Iorg, and Flores in the Corpus OF. Flores would probably be first since he had some AA experience in 2007).

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Paulino's Third Start not a Charm

After two stable starts, Felipe Paulino was rocked in number three in Venezuela Wednesday. He lasted only 2 1/3 innings giving up seven hits and four earned runs(five total) and seeing his ERA balloon to 3.46.

Astros Minor Leaguers on the Move

In spite of all the derision, it appears the Astros' lower farm system is good for something: filling out the AAA rosters of other organizations. Five of the first 20 players drafted in the AAA phase of Thursday's Rule 5 draft were Farmstros.

#8 Santo Luis-RHP drafted by Charlotte(White Sox) -Lexington in 2007
#10 Levi Romero-RHP drafted by Oklahoma(Rangers)- DL in 2007
#12 Victor Garate-LHP drafted by Las Vegas(Dodgers)- Tri-City in 2007
#18 Neil Patrick Sellers-3B drafted by Ottawa soon to be Lehigh Valley(Phillies)-Corpus in 2007
#20 Julio Puentes-RHP drafted by Durham(Rays)- VSL Astros in 2007

My guess is the only significance to this is an extra $60,000 in Drayton McClane's coffers.

Astros Rule 5 Wright from Dodgers

The Astros selected a hard-throwing left-hander in Thursday's Rule 5 draft. The 23 year old Wesley Wright, selected by the Dodgers in the 7th round of the 2003 draft, spent most of 2007 at AA Jacksonville. He was impressive in the Southern League striking out 68 in 61 1/3 innings with a 2.49 ERA. He struggled with control in a brief stint at AAA Las Vegas. He walked 18 and struck out 18 while posting a 9.18 ERA in 16 2/3 in the Pacific Coast League. The Astros picked up another Dodger farmhand in the AAA phase of the draft. Giuseppe Norrito a 25 year old right-hander has mostly been a starter. Norrito was 8-5 with a 4.13 ERA in 117 2/3 IP for Jacksonville. As I understand it, Norrito has to spend '08 with Round Rock.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Purpura's New Gig

www.astros.com is reporting that Tim Purpura has been named the VP and COO of Minor League Baseball.
http://houston.astros.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20071205&content_id=2319135&vkey=news_hou&fext=.jsp&c_id=hou

Wanted: One Rookie League Franchise Owner

The Appalachain League, which includes the Astros rookie affiliate, Greeneville is looking for a tenth team for 2008. The league went through 2007 with an odd number of teams, causing quite the scheduling challenge, after Toronto severed their affiliation with Pulaski at the end of 2006. A report at MiLB.com indicates that a deal with Seattle is likely to fall through leaving the league scrambling to find a tenth.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

James to undergo the knife

Brad James is scheduled to have screw inserted in his broken right foot according to Alyson Footer at the Astros website. The surgery should take place sometime this week. James will be back in action by spring training.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Paulino Strong Again

Astros prospect Felipe Paulino was strong again in his second start in the Venezuelan Winter League Wednesday. Paulino pitched 5 innings giving up three hits and only one earned run. Paulino also struck out seven and walked four lowering his ERA below 1.00. I'm not sure how pitching rotations work in winter ball, but Paulino should be going Tuesday or Wednesday.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Astros announce minor league staffs

www.astros.com reported yesterday that the Astros announced a majority of their minor league staffs. Included in this report was Dave Clark moving up from Corpus to Round Rock. You can read the whole story here...http://houston.astros.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20071130&content_id=2314600&vkey=news_hou&fext=.jsp&c_id=hou