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Monday, March 31, 2008

New Faces Galore in the Astros System

Talk about needing a scorecard! The Astros are playing their season opener as I type this, and the farm teams are less than a week away from their openers. A prevailing theme throughout the system is new players. A quick count of the big league roster shows 13 players who had nothing to do with the Astros last year. This number includes Kazuo Matsui, on the disabled list, but not players like Wigginton and Towles, who came to the Astros during 2007. The changes filter down into the lower reaches of the system. The Astros four farm teams have 22 new names out of approximately 100 players. The most drastic example is seen at AAA Round Rock where the Express' tentative roster shows 14 players new to the Astros organization.

Express Getting Ready to Roll

Yordany Ramirez introduced himself to the Dell Diamond fans Saturday in the first of two exhibition victories by the Express over the Hooks. I listened to some of the Saturday game. The Hooks' lead-off batter Drew Sutton hit a drive to center-field that Ramirez ran down(See Picture above). Mike Capps, the Round Rock announcer gushed quite liberally about Ramirez's defensive prowess. The Express haven't announced a roster yet, but based on the Astros and Hooks rosters I've been able to narrow down the possibilties:

Cassel(Portland/San Diego in 2007)-40 man roster
DeJean(Tulsa/Colorado Springs)
Estrada(Round Rock)-40 man roster
Gordon(Corpus Christi/Round Rock)
Gothreaux(Round Rock)
Hernandez(Pawtucket, Scranton/Wilkes/Barre, Indianapolis)
Houston(Syracuse)-40 man roster
McClemore(Round Rock/Houston)
Middleton(Corpus Christi)
Miller(Corpus Christi/Round Rock)
Muecke(Corpus Christi)
Nieve(Disabled)- 40 man roster
Paronto(Richmond/Atlanta)-40 man roster
Reineke(Round Rock)-40 man roster

Quintero(Round Rock/Houston)

Ash(Corpus Christi)
Klassen(Round Rock)
Maysonet(Corpus Christi)
Newhan(New Orleans/New York Mets)
Niekro(Fresno/San Francisco)
Saccomanno(Round Rock)
Self(Corpus Christi)

Abercrombie(Albuquerque/Florida)- 40 man roster
Gorneault(Salt Lake/Los Angeles Angels)
Ramirez(Lake Elsinore/Portland)- 40 man roster

This list includes 15 pitches and 14 position players. The roster limit is 24.
Nieve may still be injured
Paronto had the option to become a free agent, so he might be gone
Quintero may be traded or released
I'll post the roster as soon as I get a hold of it.

Legends' Roster

The Lexington Legends roster for their opener Thursday at Asheville has been tentatively set:

Bello(Tri-City in 2007)
Pacella(River City of the Frontier League)
Powell(Tri-City)(2007 Draft Pick)
Robinson(Greeneville)(2007 Draft Pick)- Son of Astros' pitching coach Dewey Robinson.

Carkeek(Tri-City)(2007 Draft Pick)
Fixler(Tri-City)(2007 Draft Pick)

Corrado(Tri-City)(2007 Draft Pick)
Cusick(Tri-City)(2007 Draft Pick)
Mena(Everett of Northwest League)-drafted in 2007 by Seattle out of Univ. of Tampa where he was apparently a teammate of Corrado. Also, Astros 2006 pick pitcher Sergio Perez, injured in Corpus at the moment is from Univ. of Tampa.

DeLome(Tri-City)(2007 Draft Pick)
Dixon(Tri-City)(2007 Draft Pick)

Ten draft picks from 2007(out of 34 who signed) are listed on the opening rosters of Lexington and Salem. This doesn't include picks who might be spending time in extended spring training or recovering from injury.

Friday, March 28, 2008

24 Hooks Revealed

The 24 Hooks for the team's two exhibition games have been revealed. Changes are possible between the exhibition games and Friday's opener, but here's the roster for now:

Douglass(Corpus and Round Rock in 2007)
Gervacio(Salem and Corpus)
Englebrook(Salem and Corpus)
Norris(Lexington and Salem)
James(Salem and Corpus)
Bogusevic(Salem and Corpus)-lefty
McKeller(Salem and Corpus)
Eckert(Las Vegas-Dodgers and Newark-Atlantic League)

Santangelo(Corpus)-gets to start after missing 50 games with suspension in 2007.

Manzella(Salem and Corpus)- Starting Shortstop
Paz(Alexandria-United League)
Sheldon(Salem)-Looks like the first baseman here
Cosby(New Hampshire-Blue Jays)
Johnson, Chris(Lexington/Salem)

Sadler(Corpus)- Last year's Corpus Christi MVP

A few thoughts on the roster:
I think James, Norris, Bogusevic, and Douglass will be starting...we'll see about a fifth.
Two names I expected here pitchers Sergio Perez and Tip Fairchild. I know Fairchild is still recovering from Tommy John, so he may not show up until May or June. As for Perez, he was a starter for Salem last year. I haven't heard of any injury.
Based on who's in Corpus, it looks like Jonny Ash and Josh Muecke will start the year at Round Rock.

Avalanche Roster Unveiled

The Astros High A affiliate in Salem, VA will have plenty of new faces when camp breaks and they head north on Sunday. An article in the Roanoke Times(see link in Recent Articles Section)... lists the 25, who will be in uniform when the team begins the 2008 campaign Friday night in Salem.

Salamida,LHP(2007- Salem)- Salamida will be a co-starter with Arguello until he gets stretched out
Arguello,LHP(Lexington) see Salamida
Trinidad, LHP(Lexington/Salem)-starter
Hudspeth, RHP(Lexington/Salem)-starter
Qualben, LHP((Lexington)-starter
Bass, RHP(Lexington)-starter, spent much of 2007 injured
Dominguez, RHP(Tri-City)-2007 draft pick
Felipe Garcia, RHP(Hickory-Pirates- Low A)
Erick Abreu, RHP(Tampa- Yankees High A)
Josh Appell, LHP(St. Lucie- Mets High A)-acquired in trade for Ralph Henriquez

Clemens(Lexington)-switching from third base
Iacono(Tri-City)- 2007 draft pick out of Princeton. New pitcher Appell is a Pennsylvania product. Should make for some interesting mound discussions when they are the battery.

Ori(Salem)- Lefty swinger will share first base duties
Van Ostrand(Lexington)- Right-handed Canadian Baseball hero; He and Ori will share time, but I assume since Van Ostrand is the hotter prospect, he will play more.
Sutil, Torres, and Buchanan to man the middle infield
Florentino(Lexington)-third baseman to try to improve fielding from 27 errors in 80 games.


A few thoughts on what this means for AA...
Based on this roster, it looks like Bud Norris, RHP and Chris Johnson, IF will jump to Corpus Christi after short stays in Salem last season.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Be Careful where you Eat...

...or in Astros minor league outfield prospect Josh Flores' case, be careful where you walk after you eat. I finally got confirmation on Josh Flores ACL injury. Thanks to a report from Florida by George Vondracek with the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. According to Ricky Bennett, the Astros minor league director, Flores, 22, slipped on a curb coming out of a restaurant, and blew out his knee. Flores had surgery in February, and is out for eight to 10 months, making 2008 a lost season.

Get the Buses Ready

After morning workouts in Florida Thursday, the Astros minor leaguers(at least the AAA and AA contingent) were scheduled to start packing for their trip to Texas. In preparation for the bus ride, the team released nine players, including Jarred Ball, who Farmstros reported yesterday Wednesday morning. The cuts brought the number of players in minor league camp to 120(with 98 spots available, not counting the disabled list)
The other eight who were released Wednesday:
Beau Torbert, OF. Torbert spent last year with Corpus and Round Rock. Torbert, drafted in 2004, fell victim to the club's surplus of outfield prospects.
Michael Johnson, IF. Johnson spent part of last year with Corpus Christi. He was signed during the season after San Diego released him.
Andrew Darnell, OF. The 2005 draft pick spent last season in Lexington.
Mike Just, IF. He signed this off-season after spending 2007 with Fargo-Moorhead of the independent Northern League.
Nick Cavanaugh, RHP. Cavanaugh spent last year with Salem and Lexington.
Kyle DeYoung, RHP. The 2006 draft pick was with Lexington last season.
Aaron Rakers, RHP. The righty spent last year with the Padres AAA club in Portland. He made a brief visit to Petco Park.
Giuseppe Norrito, RHP. Norrito was selected from the Dodgers system in the minor-league phase of last December's Rule 5 draft.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Sidd Finch to Sign with the Hooks?

The Corpus Christ Hooks are promoting a major announcement at Whataburger Field next Tuesday afternoon. The following is from the email:

POLITICALLY CORRECT – In an unprecedented move for Ryan Sanders Baseball, the Corpus Christi Hooks plan to announce their backing of a specific party and candidates in this year’s elections.
Corpus Christi Hooks fans, sponsors and the media are urged to attend a press conference/rally at Whataburger Field Tuesday, April 1, at noon.
In return for their support and attendance, guests will enjoy the offerings of Brooks’ Buffet, a new feature in Kieschnick’s Korner. Free hot dogs, popcorn, soda, tea, water and beer will be available while quantities last.
“We’ve got some candidates that we’re ready to support,” said Hooks President J.J. Gottsch. “Affordable family entertainment has always been a staple of Ryan Sanders Baseball, and we feel like these candidates are ones that will lead that effort.”

Based on the date of the announcement, a Sidd Finch sighting is highly probable. For anyone to young to remember Sidd Finch, google his name to find out more about this former Mets' phenom.

Jarred Ball Released

Tomball High School graduate Jarred Ball was released from the Astros' minor league camp Wednesday morning. Ball, an outfielder who had been in the Arizona system until this season, batted over .350 in AAA games this spring.

Moves aplenty in Astros camp

With minor league spring training games wrapping up today, the activity level in Osceola County is high. Four players have been moved to the minor league camp from the big league camp. Meanwhile, three others were shown the door from the minor league camp to? some other camp, independent leagues, or something else.

Right-handed pitchers Ryan Houston and Jack Cassel were optioned to Round Rock. Right-handed pitcher Runelvys Hernandez and catcher Josh Johnson were reassigned to minor league camp. Meanwhile, Right-hander Rory Shortell who spent last season with Salem was released. Also, righty Ken Chenard and shortstop Angel Reyes, both off-season free agent signings were given their walking papers.

The Round Rock and Corpus Christi squads have a camp day tomorrow before heading to Texas Friday. The two squads face off in Round Rock Saturday night and again at Corpus Christi Sunday afternoon.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Astros Cut Eight Minor Leaguers

131 players remain in Houston's minor league camp after eight were released Sunday. With opening day from Round Rock to Lexington a little over ten days away and only 98 roster slots available, many cuts are still to come. Two most notable names on Sunday's list were Francisco Caraballo and Jesse Garcia. Caraballo, an outfielder, spent last year in Corpus hitting .256. He had previously been a South Atlantic League All-Star with Lexington. Garcia, an infielder, was in Round Rock the last two years. He has spent parts of seven seasons in the big leagues during his 14 professional seasons.
The others released:
Albert Castillo, C. The 38 year old veteran spent part of the spring in the big league camp before being sent down.
Natanael Mateo, RHP. Mateo last pitched in 2006 in the San Antonio system.
Pat Osborn, IF. Osborn spent last season with Salem after being acquired from Cleveland in a trade.
Scott Chiasson, RHP. Chiasson, after a complex journey to Osceola County, is gone.
Joe Muro, RHP. Muro was drafted by Tampa Bay in 2004. Spent last season with St. George(Golden) and Anderson(SCL) of two different independent leagues.
Mike Galloway, LHP. Galloway(aka Bruce) was drafted in 2005 by Baltimore. Spent '07 with Delmarva(Low A).

In spite of my most diligent efforts, a new name pops up on the Astros minor league rosters from time to time that I hadn't seen. Before today, I had never heard of Galloway or Muro. I read a quote from Ricky Bennett indicating that the team brought in about 30 new players this off-season for the minor league system. I'll do my best when rosters come out in about a week to introduce you to the new guys.

Hooks and Express on Fox Sports Network

The Round Rock Express and Corpus Christi Hooks will each be on Fox Sports Network six times this season. The games will be broadcasted by Mike Capps(Express) and Matt Hicks(Hooks) with Larry Dierker providing play-by-play. Further details are available at the team's sites.

May 25- Hooks vs. Springfield(Cardinals)
June 1- Express vs. New Orleans(Mets)
June 12- Hooks @ Frisco(Rangers)
June 22- Hooks @ Frisco(Rangers)
June 23- Express@ Oklahoma(Rangers)
July 3- Express vs. Albuquerque(Marlins)
July 6- Express vs. Nashville(Brewers)
July 13- Hooks vs. Frisco(Rangers)
July 14- Express vs. Oklahoma(Rangers)
July 20- Hooks vs. Frisco(Rangers)
July 24- Express vs. Fresno(Giants)
August 10- Hooks vs. Springfield(Cardinals)

Talk About the Express Worldwide Tonight

Round Rock Express fans will be able to join the conversation about the new season tonight around the globe from 6:30 to 8 pm(Central time). Express play-by-play man Mike Capps will host the season preview show on the world wide web at Fans will be able to ask questions via a toll-free phone number or an email address. Full information on the show is provided at the link I have provided in my "Recent Articles on Farmstros" section.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Golden Sombrero Wearer (The Strikeout King)

The Golden Sombrero Wearer(akaThe Strikeout King)

The bottom of the ninth, two down

A Duke on every base

A 3-nothing deficit stared the batter in the face.

The pitcher, clad in orange and black showed menace in his eyes

His job? To save this final game and claim the season’s prize.

The starter had been strong, through more than eight, no hits did show

In the heat his arm ran out of gas and walked three in a row

So, this fireman was called upon to quench the final spark

Leaving the Duke faithful to stagger in the dark.

To the plate, there strode a Duke who had been royal all year long

When the team was at its weakest, it seemed he became most strong.

Concerning ways to win a game, it seemed he’d done it all

Home runs, stolen bases, and a walk-off base on balls.

He carried them to wins at least a time or three each week.

And while he was a hero, his demeanor remained meek.

Yet, this day his bat was feeble, three straight times he had struck out

As he approached the plate this trip, some fans began to doubt.

He got into the box, his wood was his team’s final chance

The pitcher toed the rubber with his scowling menace glance.

The first pitch was a heater, 102 the radar blinked

The swing was no where even close, more fans felt their hearts sink.

The 0 and 1, no different, soon exploded in the mitt

The swing did not come closer than a half-a-mile of it.

Was this the way it would go down? This new old Casey’s end?

Was his bat to betray him?

It had been his closest friend.

The home crowd had turned silent, some of them just turned away

They couldn’t bear to see the season ended in this way.

So while some eyes averted, strike three hurtled to the plate

The grimace of the swinger was profound, for he was late.

A cry went up in anguish from the bleachers all around

Yet that sign of resignation muffled out another sound

It may have been the strain of catching balls at 1-0-1

It may have been the heat and playing in the summer sun

It may have been a miracle,

That’s still what some folks say

The details of the story are debated e’en today

Still, it seems in every version, the ball went to the backstop

And the catcher’s mitt was rent in two like a worn out old flip-flop.

By the time the catcher realized and discerned the passed ball’s place

The final strikeout victim was already at first base.

There he called out to his teammate who was standing still, quite stunned

“Come on, I’ll take you home! Come on, now with me run!”

Then at second base, he called again, “Come on wake up, run with me!”

With the catcher halfway to the ball, they were heading for base three.

Then the three of them, were rounding third and heading into home

When the Third Base runner realized that he was not alone.

So the four Dukes, they sped quickly, “To the plate! On to the plate!”

They churned their legs and hoped that they would not get home too late.

And the crowd by now, at least a part, had seen the running men

And stood back up and cheered and felt their hope come back again.

Then the catcher got the ball and whirled, yet his throw found only air

The pitcher? Shocked beyond belief, simply put, he wasn’t there.

He seemed stuck on the pitcher’s mound, anchored by some heavy weight.

And he only fell down on his knees as the fourth man crossed the plate.

The Dukes poured from the dugout, seeing this was not a dream

Then the Gold Sombrero wearer was raised up by all his team

The scoreboard told the story, brightly shining, all could see

From the clutches of defeat, the Dukes had claimed a win 4-3.

When all the dust had settled, the call-in shows began

The strikeout was discussed at length throughout the varied land

Most Duke fans were ecstatic

Recounting where they’d been

When the four men hurried to the plate

Securing the great win

Yet, some were not impressed they said, “That is not victory!

To have a season end that way, is just a travesty.”

The fans behind the losers were outraged, appalled, and more

A few signed a petition to protest the final score

The writers wrote, the talkers talked, the poets penned their rhyme

And some folks thought of baseball and the Dukes for the first time

My pencil is exhausted

Its work complete, no doubt

For it’s told of the day

The mighty strikeout king struck out.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Oswalt Connection Brings in a Catcher

If Astros minor league catching prospect Joe Melton ever makes it to the big leagues, he may have a chance to catch the brother of his high school coach. Melton, who just signed with the Astros last month, played high school in Brighton, Tennessee for Coach Brian Oswalt. After completing his collegiate career at Crichton, an NAIA school in Tennessee last Spring, he spent a few weeks with Reno of the independent Frontier League. He went 5 for 18 for Reno before suffering a season-ending wrist injury.

Astros Send Eight to Minors; Paulino Disabled

The Astros announced eight players were heading to minor league camp today. Included in the list was left-hander Mark McClemore. He was out of options, so he will need to clear waivers before he goes to the minors. Right-hander Mike DeJean was sent to the minors. However, he has a clause that allows him to opt out of his contract if he is sent to the minors before March 20. He has indicated a desire to stay with the Astros. He has until Thursday to exercise the clause. Also, sent to minor league camp was righthander Carlos Hines(6 1/3 scoreless innings this spring), lefthander Stephen Randolph, catchers Albert Castillo and J.R. House, and outfielders Victor Diaz and Nick Gorneault(10/23, .435 average in spring). The demotion of Randolph and McClemore leaves Rule 5 pick Wesley Wright as the only left-handed bullpen candidate. Wright has allowed only 1 run in seven spring innings.
The club also announced that Felipe Paulino and his upper arm problems have been placed on the 15-day disabled list. Mid-April is the earliest he might return.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

More on Flores

Josh Flores did have ACL surgery. I haven't pinned down the timing, but if it was in January, July or August might be possible return times. We'll keep an eye on it.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Flores Out?

I post this information with the caveat that it is unconfirmed so far. Some sources have reported that outfielder Josh Flores had ACL surgery sometime in January. Flores ended 2007 struggling in Corpus after a good first half in Salem. He spent the off-season in the Arizona Fall League. He seemed to be ticketed for the Corpus outfield to start this season. However, an ACL surgery would put that on hold, obviously. I am seeking confirmation and will pass it on as soon as I uncover it.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Two New Farmstros, One Released

A pitcher and a catcher were added to the Astros minor league system, and an outfielder has been let go...
John Pacella, RHP. Pacella spent 2004-07 at Kent State. He played for River City in the independent Frontier League last summer posting a 7.36 ERA in 14 2/3 innings. There was a John Pacella who pitched for the Mets in the 70s and 80s. I have found no proof of a relationship, but it seems likely.

Reese Creswell, C. The 22 year-old has spent three years in the minors with the Phillies and Rangers organizations. He has never been above High A, playing 70 games and posting a .200 average.

Jared Pitts, OF. The Astros drafted Pitts out of Stephen F. Austin University in Texas last summer(28th Round). He batted .181 in 46 games with Tri-City and Greeneville in 2007.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Rakers a Farmstro, others play in split-squad Games

Amongst the minor leaguers taking the field during the Astros' two games Saturday was right-handed pitcher, Aaron Rakers, who got the last out in the eighth inning of the loss to Cleveland at Winter Haven. Rakers, 31, was drafted by Baltimore in 1999. He was in the Orioles' system through the 2005 season, pitching 13 games in the big leagues. After missing 2006 with injury, Rakers was with the Padres' organization in 2007. He pitched 61 games for triple A Portland posting a 5.70 ERA in 79 innings. He also pitched one game for the Padres.

A few other minor leaguers of note in big league games Saturday:
Chris Johnson had a hit and an RBI vs. Atlanta and also impressed the announcers with his aggressiveness at third base.
Edwin Maysonet was 2 for 5 with a double and 3 RBI in his start against the Braves.
A number of AAA and AA middle infielders played in addition to Maysonet: Jonny Ash started, Osvaldo Fernando, Drew Sutton, and Jessie Garcia also saw time in the lineup.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Minor League Games Begin

The Astros minor leaguers were scheduled to start their spring training season today against Cleveland. If anyone has any results from any minor league games pass them on.

Congratulations to Canada

Team Canada wrapped up their run through the final Olympic qualifying tournament in Taiwan Friday. The Olympic qualifiers knocked off Germany 2-1 to finish the eight team competition with a 6-1 record. They were tied for first with South Korea, who they beat head-to-head 4-3. Astros prospect Jimmy Van Ostrand dodn't play in the finale. He ended the event with some impressive statistics. 10 hits, 2 doubles, 1 triple, 1 home run, .556 BA, .944 Slugging, and eight RBI, including the game-winner in the 10th inning against Taiwan. Lexington batting coach Stubby Clapp hit .364 for the Canadians. Manager Terry Puhl and his squad will be joined by China, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, The Netherlands, Cuba, and the U.S.A., August 8-24 for the Olympics.
Just for the record since this blog has looked like a Team Canada baseball propaganda puppet the last few days, I am not Canadian, born and raised in Houston, actually. However, the combination of two players with current Astros' connections(Van Ostrand and Clapp) and one former Astros regular(Puhl was my mom's favourite player, and I liked him a lot too) on Team Canada compelled me to include the Olympic qualifying information, eh. I probably won't mention Canadian baseball again until the Olympics, unless the Astros draft a Canadian in June.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Canada on to China in August

Team Canada's website is reporting that the team knocked off undefeated South Korea 4-3 Wednesday to clinch a berth in this summer's Olympic Games in China. James Van Ostrand went 1 for 3 in the contest, dropping his average for the tournament to .556(10 for 18). The Canadians finish the qualifying tournament Friday when they face Germany. After that, Van Ostrand will be bringing his hot bat and Olympic invite to Astros' minor league camp.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Paulino out for at Least a Month

Felipe Paulino won't be throwing for at least a month. According to Astros' broadcasters Dave Raymond and Brett Dolan during today's spring training, Paulino's recent check-up with team doctors revealed no structural damage in his upper arm. However, he is being shut down.

Canada Drops Spain

Jimmy Van Ostrand drove in two more runs as Canada knocked off Spain 11-0 Wednesday and moved to within one game of clinching a berth in this summer's Olympics. The right-handed outfielder was 1 for 2 with a double and two RBI as the Canadians remained tied for second place in the eight team round-robin qualifying tournament which wraps up Friday. Van Ostrand is 9 for 15 with 8 RBI and four extra base hits in the team's first five games. Team Canada(4-1) will clinch one of the three final Olympic berths with a win over South Korea Thursday or Germany on Friday.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

More on Canada's win over Taiwan

I mentioned that Farmstro James Van Ostrand had the winning hit in Canada's ten inning win over Taiwan in Olympic qualifying Monday. I've included a link in the RECENT ARTICLES section with more information about the wild game. A few highlights other than Van Ostrand's hit: A bench clearing brawl after Van Ostrand and the Taiwanese catcher collided at the plate; fans littering the field with debris; quotes from Van Ostrand, Stubby Clapp, and Terry Puhl(Team Canada's manager). According to Puhl, this was his best game ever affiliated with Team Canada.

Paulino in Houston to have Arm Tested

The following is from Joseph Duarte's article in the Chronicle Monday:

Righthander Felipe Paulino, a candidate for the Astros' starting rotation, flew back to Houston on Monday due to discomfort in his upper right arm. He will be evaluated today by team physician Dr. David Lintner.

"Any time you hear one of your starting pitching candidates has an arm issue, you are concerned enough to fly him back to Houston," general manager Ed Wade said.

In his last outing Saturday, Paulino allowed five runs in three innings against Washington.

Paulino told athletic trainer Dave Labossiere he has been experiencing discomfort in his arm for some time, Wade said.

"I wish he would have spoken up a little sooner," Wade said. "But we'll go ahead and get it addressed and hopefully have it be something minor."

Monday, March 10, 2008

Van Ostrand has Winning Hit

James Van Ostrand's run-scoring double in the top of the tenth, was the winning run for Canada in their victory over Taiwan mentioned in my last post. Van Ostrand went 3 for 5 in the victory. His stats through four games are impressive: 8 for 13, one double, one triple, one home run and six RBI. If Canada ends up in China in August, Van Ostrand will be a big part of the trip.

Canadians Tied for Second Place

The Canadian team, which includes an Astros prospect and an Astros minor league coach, knocked off host Taiwan 6-5 Monday to pull into a second-place tie with Taiwan after four games of the seven game Olympic qualifying tournament. Jimmy Van Ostrand an outfielder with Lexington last season had gone 5 for 8 with a triple, a homer, and 5 RBI entering Monday's contest. Stubby Clapp, who will be the batting coach at Lexington in 2008 this season is 4 for 11 with a double, a triple, and two RBI. The top three teams in this tournament qualify for the August Olympic Games in China. After an off day Tuesday, Canada has three games remaining: Wednesday vs. Spain(1-3), Thursday vs. South Korea(4-0), and Friday vs. Germany(2-2).

Astros Cut Nine

With minor league spring training games starting this Friday, the Astros sent nine players to the minors today to get some more work in in preparation for the season.

The club reassingned the following three players to minor-league camp:
Lance Niekro, IF. 2/21(.095 BA) this spring
Tommy Manzella, SS. 6/19(.316)
Josh Muecke, LHP. 2 appearances/15.43 ERA

The following four, who are on the 40 man roster, were optioned to Round Rock:
Yordany Ramirez, OF. 1/15(.067)
Chad Reineke, RHP. 2 games, 1 IP, 27.00 ERA
Fernando Nieve, RHP. Came to camp ready to start pitching after T.J. surgery; however, he has aggravated his hamstring.
Paul Estrada, RHP. No appearances.

Two more, also on the 40 man roster, were optioned to Corpus Christ:
Sammy Gervacio, RHP. 4 games, 3 1/3 scoreless IP
Brad James, RHP. 2 games, 2 scoreless IP

Friday, March 7, 2008

50 Year Anniversary of T.L. championship Highlights Hooks' Promotions

The Corpus Christi Hooks have released their 2008 promotions schedule, which includes a celebration in July of the 50th anniversary of the 1958 Corpus Christi Hooks Texas League Championship. A look at a few of the promotions in store at Whataburger Field. The full schedule is available at the team's website.

April 19- Jonny Ash Figurines vs. Frisco(Rangers)
May 3- Craig Biggio Figurines vs. San Antonio(Mariners)
May 4- Kids' gloves and post-game catch vs. San Antonio(Mariners)
June 28- J.R. Towles Figurines vs. Tulsa(Rockies)
June 29- Hooks Team Card set vs. Northern Arkansas(Royals)
July 10- 1958 Chevy Die-Cast cars vs. Frisco(Rangers)
July 12- 1958 CC Giants Caps vs. Frisco(Rangers)
July 13- 1958 CC Giants Championship Pennants vs. Frisco(Rangers)
August 20- Hunter Pence Figurines vs. Midland(Athletics)
August 24- Shirt off the Back Night vs. San Antonio(Mariners)

Van Ostrand, Canadians Drop Mexico

While his Astros teammates were settling in getting ready for their first full day of minor-league camp, Jimmy Van Ostrand was helping Canada win its first game of the Olympic Qualifying tournament in Taiwan. Van Ostrand went 3 for 5 with a triple and 4 RBI as Team Canada beat Mexico 15-10. The Canadians face South Africa Saturday afternoon at 12:30 PM(Taiwan time)(11:30 PM Eastern Time-Friday Night).
Another note on the qualifying tournament... Lexington's batting coach, Stubby Clapp is Van Ostrand's teammate on the Canadian team. Clapp, a former major league infielder, spent 2007 as Greeneville's batting coach, and will serve in the same capacity this season for Lexington.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Wagler out for two to three months

Minor League pitchers and catchers have been in camp less than a week and one is already out until summer. Right-hander Chad Wagler will undergo surgery for an injury to his toe and be out for two to three months. The 24 year-old spent last season in Lexington's bullpen. He had a 5.08 ERA in 90 IP.

Workouts with the full minor league rosters start this weekend. Spring Training games begin next Friday(3/14) against the Indians' organization in Winter Haven(AA & AAA) and Kissimmee(High & Low A).

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Ryan Still Present in Round Rock

Nolan Ryan may have taken a job with the Rangers, but he will still be present in Round Rock this season(at least in Bobblehead/Statue form). The Express promotional calendar for 2008 includes five dates on which fans will receive Nolan Ryan likeness in some form or another. Below are ten of the most intriguing promotions at Dell Diamond this season. The full schedule is available at the team's website.

April 19- Nolan Ryan Statue as a Met vs. Memphis(Cardinals)
April 21- Bagwell/Biggio Bobblehead vs. Mephis(Cardinals)
May 24- Nolan Ryan Statue as an Angel vs. Omaha(Royals)
June 15- Kids Gloves and Father's Day Catch vs. Memphis(Cardinals)
June 18- Nolan Ryan Statue as an Astros vs. Omaha(Royals)
July 12- Nolan Ryan Bobblehead vs. Oklahoma(Rangers)
July 22- Express Mr. Potato Head vs. Fresno(Giants)
July 23- Nolan Ryan Statue as a Ranger vs. Fresno(Giants)
August 9- Hunter Pence Bobblehead vs. Iowa(Cubs)
August 30- Shirt-off our Back vs. Albuquerque(Marlins)

Monday, March 3, 2008

Van Ostrand in Taiwan

Last month, Farmstros linked a story about James Van Ostrand getting ready for Astros minor league spring training camp. However, the article didn't indicate that the outfielder who spent last season at Lexington was making a stop in Asia first. Van Ostrand, who represented Canada in last year's Futures Game and last Fall's World Cup in Taiwan is headed back to Taiwan this week for the final Olympic Qualifying tournament for this summer's Olympics in China. The Canadian team, coached by former Astro player and current University of Houston-Victoria coach, Terry Puhl, has spent the last week in Australia playing exhibition games with Australia in preparation for the eight-team round-robin tournament. Van Ostrand and his Canadian teammates will be competing with Germany, Mexico, South Korea, South Africa, Spain, Taiwan, and Australia beginning Friday for the final three spots in the summer games. China, Cuba, Japan, the U.S., and the Netherlands have already qualified for the games, scheduled for August 8-24. The qualifying tournament ends March 14, so I assume Van Ostrand will be heading to Florida after that. An interesting side note, Puhl has left his UH-Victoria team(NAIA), which is in its first season of existence, in the hands of Phil Garner.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Minor Leaguers Play on the Big Stage

As spring training continues, players from the minor league camp will occasionally find their way onto the big league field for a cup of coffee. It's always a treat to listen to Milo, Dave and whoever pontificate on the guys with the large numbers. This phenomena was in full force during today's two split squad contests as four players who aren't on the big league spring training roster, which numbers 53, made appearances. These appearances are also a clue that the players are part of the mini-camp, as minor league position players don't begin workouts until Friday.

Today's guys in the high numbered jerseys:
Drew Sutton, IF(.269 at Corpus in 2007)... 1 for 1 with 1 RBI
Danny Klassen, IF(.293 at Round Rock)... 0 for 1
Eli Iorg, OF(.296 at Salem) no at bats, played defense in the outfield
Edwin Maysonet(.271 at Corpus) 1 for 1, 1 double, 1 RBI