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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Valley Cats announce 2009 Schedule

The Astros short-season A affiliate Tri-City Valley Cats will open the season on the road at Oneonta June 19. The team based in Troy, New York will turn around and have their home opener the next night June 20 again against Oneonta.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Newhan a Free Agent

The Astros 40-man roster dropped to 34 as David Newhan refused an assignment to Round Rock and as a result became a free agent.

Baseball Prospectus Names top 11 Prospects

As the winter progresses numerous websites and publications proffer their opinions on minor league prospects. Baseball Prospectus just released their top 11 plus three. The over-all opinion of BP is that the Astros still have one of the most depleted farm systems but baseball, but they still found 14 players worth mentioning:

Four Star Prospect
Jason Castro, C(Tri-City in 2008)

Three Star Prospects
Brian Bogusevic, OF(Salem/Corpus Christi)
Jordan Lyles, RHP(Greeneville/Tri-City)
Bud Norris, RHP(Corpus Christi)
Chris Johnson, 3B(Corpus Christi/Round Rock)
Ross Seaton, RHP(Greeneville)

Two Star Prospects
Sammy Gervacio, RHP(Corpus Christi/Round Rock)
Drew Sutton, 2B(Corpus Christi)
Felipe Paulino(Injured)
Chia-Jen Lo, RHP(Signed from Taiwan)
Jay Austin, OF(Greeneville)

Three who just missed(others receiving votes?)
Collin DeLome, OF(Lexington/Salem)
T.J. Steele, OF(Tri-City)
Polin Trinidad, LHP(Salem/Corpus Christi)

Two things jump to my mind when I see this,

Six of the fourteen were drafted or signed in 2008(including Chia-Jen Lo. It seems to me that this bodes well for the future, assuming Bobby Heck and his crew can continue to sign the players they draft.

Where's Tommy Manzella? BP indicates that players over 25 years old can't be prospects, but Manzella is only 25 as is Sutton. Not sure how DeLome and Paulino make the list and not Manzella. He seems more likely to help the big club than either of those two.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Lumsden Acquired from Royals

The Astros acquired left-hander Tyler Lumsden from the Royals for a player to be named later and cash. Lumsden, 25, was added to the 40-man roster. He spent 2008 with AAA Omaha, where he had a 7.21 ERA in 28 games, including 18 starts. He is pitching for Gigantes de Carolina in Puerto Rico this winter. Lumsden was drafted by the White Sox in 2004. After being traded to the Royals during the 2006 season, he was rated that organization's #5 prospect heading into the 2007 season. However, he struggled in Omaha the last two seasons.

Just When you Thought the 2007 Draft Couldn't get any Worse..

If this is possible, the Astros 2007 draft got a little bit weaker as five more players selected about 18 months ago by Houston have parted ways with the organization. The latest cuts left the Astros with only 17 of their original 42 draftees remaining. As a recap, the team signed 34 of those 42 out of the draft. Further, only six of the top 15 selections are still in the system. On the positive side, one of the top 15 selections, Matt Cusick, was dealt to the Yankees to acquire LaTroy Hawkins.

Eleven players released:
Bryan Brown, IF, Undrafted Free Agent 2007, Lexington in 2008
Greg Buchanan, IF, 2006 Draft(9th Round), Salem
Kevin Carkeek, C, 2007(25), Lexington/Salem
Raymar Diaz, RHP, 2002(47), Salem
David Dinelli, RHP, 2007(6), Greeneville
Jacob Leonhardt, RHP, 2007(37), Lexington
David Miller, RHP, 2007(32), Tri-City
Luis Pardo, RHP, 2007(9), Lexington
Cesar Quintero, OF, 2002 from Panama, Salem
Orlando Rosales, OF, 2006(19), Salem/Corpus Christi
Tim Torres, IF, 2006(23), Salem

Friday, November 21, 2008

Sutton Topps AA All-Star

Drew Sutton who was recently added to the Astros 40-man roster has been named a Topps AA All-Star. Sutton was at or near the top of numerous offensive categories in the Texas League while playing for the Corpus Christi Hooks. He batted .317 with 39 doubles, 20 home runs, 20 stolen bases, 69 RBI, and 102 runs scored. Sutton also batted over .300 during the Arizona Fall League, as mentioned in a recent post.

A Rule 5 clarification

I mentioned in my last post that I can't see any players who the Astros could lose in the major league phase of the Rule 5 draft on December 11. However, I forgot about Josh Muecke, LHP and Mark Saccomanno, IF. Neither of these players is listed as a free agent, so I assume they are under the Astros control, but they are not on the 40-man roster and are not exempt from the Rule 5 draft. They are most likely protected in the minor league phase, but someone might take a chance on them. I don't know for sure about Andy Van Hekken, who spent the season at Corpus Christi, but he could be Rule 5 eligible as well.

Former Farmstro added to Dodgers 40-man roster

The Rule 5 draft is three weeks from today. While I can see no Astros minor leaguers of note who may be selected in the major league phase of the draft, the draft also has a minor league phase. This phase is generally just a way for teams to fill their minor league rosters, however, three of the five players the Astros lost in last year's minor league phase had solid seasons in 2008 and one, Victor Garate, was added to the Dodger 40-man roster.

Garate, LHP spent 2007 with Lexington and Tri-City in the Astros system. He was converted into a starter by the Dodgers this season and split the season between high and low A. For the season he made 19 starts, pitched 116 innings, had a 2.79 ERA, and 150 strikeouts.

Santo Luis, RHP spent 2007 with Lexington. He was selected by the White Sox and spent the year between high and low A. He pitched 42 games, 92 IP, 135 Ks and a 3.82 ERA.

Neil Sellers, IF spent 2007 with Corpus Christi before being selected by the Phillies. He batted .275 with 19 home runs and 78 RBI in 134 games at AA.

Arizona Fall League Wraps Up

The Arizona Fall League has wrapped up and most of the eight Astros in the league posted strong numbers.

Drew Sutton, 34 for 108(.315) with nine doubles, one triple, seven home runs and 24 RBI. Suttton has been added to the 40-man roster.
Chris Johnson, 29 for 98(.296) with nine doubles, two triples, two home runs, and 19 RBI.
Brian Bogusevic, 25 for 74(.338) with two doubles, two triples, one home run, and 14 RBI. Bogusevic was also added to the 40-man roster.
Mark Ori, 13 for 51(.255) with three doubles, two triples, one home run, and eight RBI.
Bud Norris, 19 IP, 12 games, 1.89 ERA with 13 BB and 20 Ks.
Sergio Perez, seven games, 23 IP, and a 3.52 ERA.
Chris Blazek, pitched only two innings before suffering elbow tenderness.
Brad James, pitched 11 innings and had a 10.64 ERA.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Three Added to the 40-man roster

The Astros added three players to the 40-man roster, protecting them from the upcoming Rule 5 draft. Drew Sutton, IF, Tommy Manzella, SS, and Brian Bogusevic were added bringing the 40-man roster to 34 players.
The only player I thought might be added who wasn't was LHP Chris Blazek, who spent the season at Corpus Christi.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Hawaii Winter League Wraps Up

Jason Castro wrapped up a successful Hawaii Winter League appearance this weekend. The Astros #1 draft pick batted .333(26 for 78) during the 40-game season. He had six doubles, two home runs and 13 RBI. Two other Astros' minor leagues participated in Hawaii:

Jordan Parraz, OF. Parraz went 17 for 80 with one double, one home run and eight RBI.
Chris Hicks, RHP. Another 2008 draft pick, Hicks made 13 appearances with a 5.50 ERA in 18 innings pitched. He struck out 22 and walked 12, while recording one save.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Signings from the Caribbean, Part II

To follow up on the Ortiz posting, the Astros have signed 14 others from the Caribbean since the start of June. These players should be on an Astros minor league roster in 2009:

Dominican Republic
Darwin Rivera, IF, 17(age on Astros opening day 2009)
Fredwin Campusano, 2B, 17
Frederick Tiburcio, RHP, 18
Luis De La Rosa, SS, 17
Rochi Gutierrez, RHP, 16
Leonardo Alayon, RHP, 16
Enmanuel Cedano, RHP, 20
Juan Minaya, RHP, 18

Venezuela
Bolivar Monzon, OF, 17
Flores Gonzalez, C, 16
Gonzalez Suniaga, OF, 17

Colombia
Andru Sierra, Utility, 17

Panama
Mario Gonzalez, 1B, 17
Max Ayarsa, SS, 17

Signings from the Caribbean, Part I

Previously, I posted names of five players the Astros have signed this season from the Caribbean. I was recently directed by a regular reader of this blog to a blog by Jose de Jesus Ortiz in the Houston Chronicle. He listed all the Caribbean players that have been signed since Ed Wade took the reins and hired Felix Francisco to head up Latin American scouting.

The team has signed 28 players in about a year.
14 of the signings came before June and those players appeared on an Astros squad last season:
Dominican Republic
Luis Bryan, SS, 18(age on opening day 2009)
Lonny Fulgencio, 2B, 19
Carlos Gil, RHP, 18
Jose Cisnero, RHP, 19
Pedro Feliz, SS, 18
Juan Mojica, RHP, 20
Cristian Moronta, C, 19
Crisitian Hirland, C, 17
Rainier Perez, OF, 18
Jose Vargas, C, 17
Ricardo Batista, LHP, 17
Eudy Ramos, OF/1B, 18
These players all played for the DSL Astros in 2008

Dionel Montas, 3B, 21(Montas played for Greeneville in 2008)

Venezuela
Wilder Parra, C, 18(Parra played for the VSL Astros in 2008)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A few Caribbean Waves

Rob Cosby, who was in Corpus in 2008, is now on the roster of Criollos de Cagues in Puerto Rico

Jose Lopez is now off of the roster Leones del Caracas in Venezuela.

Managerial Positions Open

At latest count, four Astros farm teams will have new managers in 2009. It has been previously reported that Dave Clark(Round Rock in 2008) is moving up to be the Astros bench coach, and that Greg Langbehn(Lexington in 2008) is signed to manage Traverse City of the independent Frontier League. Now, according to Brian McTaggart's report in the latest issue of Baseball America, Tri-City and Lancaster will have new managers as well. The report indicates that Jim Pankovits who was at the Astros High A affiliate Salem last season will manage in the system, but not at Lancaster. Pete Rancont managed Tri-City in 2008, McTaggart did not indicate what has become of Rancont.

Greeneville Announces 2009 Schedule

The Astros rookie club will open their 2009 campaign on June 23. The club will start their Appalachian League schedule on at Bristol. The G-stros home opener is slated for June 26 against Danville.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Two Dates of Note Coming Up

Two major dates are coming up that affect the future of the Astros system.

First, Friday, November 14 is the first day free agents can sign with another team.

Second, Thursday, November 20 is the day to set 40-man rosters for the upcoming Rule 5 draft.

The Astros have 31 players on their 40-man at the moment. I can see four players being added to the 40-man roster before the deadline:

Tommy Manzella, SS
Brian Bogusevic, OF
Drew Sutton, IF
Chris Blazek, LHP

This leaves room for free agents signings and potential Rule 5 selections. Maybe Ed Wade can repeat the Wesley Wright success.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Astros Minor League Free Agents

According to Baseball America, 25 Farmstros became free agents at the end of the World Series. My understanding is that the Astros had exclusive negotiating rights with all free agent eligible until the end of the World Series.

These are the 25:
RHP
Erick Abreu
Jack Cassel
Ron Chiavacci
Chance Douglass
Paul Estrada
Bo Hall
Ryan Houston
Kyle Middleton
Josh Miller
Jose Oyervidez
Nick Regilio

LHP
Doug Arguello
Ray King
Mark McClemore

C
Julian Henson

IF
Rob Cosby
Osvaldo Fernando
Danny Klassen
Roberto Mena

OF
Jarred Ball
Nick Gorneault
Val Majewski
Ray Sadler
Todd Self

These players are in addition to Dave Borkowski, P; Jose Castillo, IF; Runelvys Hernandez, P; J.R. House, C; Chad Paronto; and Tomas Perez, IF who were granted their free agency prior to the deadline.

A few names that I determined were free agent eligible are not on the list:
Josh Muecke, LHP
Andy Van Hekken, LHP
Francisco Abad, LHP
Raymar Diaz, RHP
Jose Lopez, C
Ryan McKeller, IF
Cesar Quintero, OF
Sergio Severino, LHP
Wladamir Sutil, IF
Jack Tilghman, RHP
Mark Saccomanno, IF

My assumption is that these players reached agreement for 2009 with the Astros during the exclusive signing period.
All of them except Tilghman should be Rule 5 draft eligible. From this list, Saccomanno, Van Hekken, and Muecke might be of interest in this regard.

"A" Ball for Chia-Jen Lo

The Astros made it official that they had signed Taiwanese pithcer Chia-Jen Lo today. I heard a report that Ed Wade said Chia-Jen will start in A ball next spring.

Puerto Rico gets Going, Winter Ball in Full Swing

The Puerto Rican winter league opened yesterday meaning all Winter baseball is underway. Puerto Rico is back after last winter when the league remained dark. An update on Astros playing in Puerto Rico and elsewhere:

Puerto Rico
Carlos Lazu, P, Indios de Mayaguez
Raymar Diaz, P, Lobos de Arecibo
Edwin Maysonet, SS, Lobos de Arecibo(40-man roster)
Luis Cruz, P, Criollos de Caguas(2008 draft pick)
Rene Garcia, C, Leones de Ponce(2008 draft pick)
Reggie Abercrombie, OF, Leones de Ponce(40-man roster)

Dominican Republic
Alberto Arias, P, Tigres de Licey(40-man roster)
Erick Abreu, P, Gigantes del Cibao
Michael Bourn, OF, Aguilas Cibaenas

Venezuela
Jeiler Castillo, P, Aguilas de Zulia
Carolos Quevedo, P, Navegantes del Magallanes(He played in the Venezuelan Summer League)

The Astros have the following players in action this winter(this includes free agents):
Puerto Rico-6
Mexico-1
Dominican Republic-11
Venezuela-15
Hawaii-3
Arizona- 8

Speaking of Hawaii and Arizona, those two leagues end this month...Hawaii(11/16); Arizona(11/20). I will wrap up the performance of players with Astros ties at the seasons' conclusions.

Hawkins to stay in the Astros bullpen

The Astros will reportedly re-sign one of their type B free agents. La Troy Hawkins has agreed to a one year contract and will be in the 2009 Houston bullpen. The article I read in the Houston Chronicle indicates that the deal is worth around the $3.75 million Hawkins earned in 2008.

Legends need a Manager

Greg Langbehn has been named the manager of the Traverse County(Michigan) Beach Bums. Langbehn had spent ten seasons in the Astros organization, including the last two as manger of the Lexington Legends. As Langbehn moves to the independent Frontier League, a position is open for a skipper at Applebee's Park in Kentucky.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Saccomanno sent down

The Astros outrighted Mark Saccomanno to Round Rock. I was under the impression that with six years in the minors the infielder would be a free agent if he was demoted. However, the reports I see indicate that he is under the Astros control. I think this would make him eligible for the Rule 5 draft in December.
As the free agent signing period and the Rule 5 draft approach, the Astros 40-man roster currently stands at 30 players.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Polin Trinidad on 40-man roster

The Astros purchased the contract of left-hander Polin Trinidad, adding him to the 40-man roster for the 2009 season. Trinidad, who spent 2008 between Salem and Corpus Christi was eligible to become a minor league free agent if was not added to the 40-man roster. Additionally, the team outrighted right-hander Paul Estrada off of the 40-man roster to Corpus Christi. Estrada becomes a minor league free agent.