farmstros can be reached at farmstros@yahoo.com

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Maysonet optioned, de La Vara returned to KC

The Astros optioned infielder Edwin Maysonet to Round Rock on Tuesday. That move seems to assure Jason Smith a spot on the roster as a utility infielder. Houston also returned LHP Gilber de La Vara, a Rule 5 pick, to the Royals.

In another note, the acquisition of infielder Jeff Keppinger for a player to be named later seems to indicate that third baseman Chris Johnson will start the year at Round Rock.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Four Released from Minor League Camp

Word out of Florida is that four players have been released from the Astros minor league camp.

From the 2006 Draft:

Colt Adams, RHP
Thomas Vessella, LHP

From the 2007 Draft:

Brett Robinson, RHP

Also Mike Koons, RHP was released. Koons was signed as an undrafted free agent in the summer of 2007.

Whither Koby Clemens?

Last week, I was reminded how little information about the Astros I truly have as a mere blogger/fan. A news story on Koby Clemens,which aired on Channel 8 in Austin indicated that Clemens would begin the season at either Corpus Christi or LEXINGTON. It seemed odd to me that he might start at Lexington as that would be a step down from Salem, where he caught in 2008. I contacted one of the minor league gurus at Spikes n Stars about this. He indicated that he is almost certain Clemens is headed to Lancaster. As evidence he pointed out that Clemens' name included in some of the early announcements about Lancaster becoming an Astros' affiliate. His theory was that Clemens would back up Castro in High A, and that Castro and Clemens would DH on the days they weren't catching. Finally, I contacted the play-by-play announcer for Lancaster, Jeff Lasky. Granted, he spends a good part of the off-season covering college athletics. However, Lasky indicates that he has heard nothing of the Jet Hawks promoting Clemens being on the roster, and that such marketing of an individual is very rare in the minor leagues.

By the way, Clemens indicated his goal is to start the year at Corpus Christi.
If anyone has information to add to this story, please feel free to chime in.


I for one am looking forward to seeing where Clemens ends up next week. You can find all the rosters here as soon as I get them.

Paronto to Minors, Two Released

Over the weekend, relief pitcher Chad Paronto was reassigned to minor league camp.

Also, David Newhan, IF and Tip Fairchild, RHP were released from the Astros organization. Fairchild was one of the top pitchers in the system in 2006. However, he had Tommy John early in the 2007 season and pitched sparingly for Corpus Christi in 2008. The release of Fairchild from minor league camp makes me think that there were numerous cuts over the weekend, which I will keep my eyes open for.

Friday, March 27, 2009

What is Your Favorite Minor League Baseball Memory?

Maybe you saw a future big leaguer hit a grand slam in Waterloo, Iowa...maybe you sat through a doubleheader at Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama... maybe you saw the San Diego Chicken in Springfield, Illinois. To me, one of the great things about baseball in general and minor league baseball especially is the interesting people and places you see at the ballpark. Please tell us your story.

Norris, Towles sent down

The Astros minor league roster got a bit larger Friday as Bud Norris and J.R. Towles moved over from the big league camp. Norris, P was reassigned to minor league camp and Towles, C was optioned to Round Rock. The moves reduced the number of players in big league camp to 34, including eight non-roster invitees.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

New Farm Report available

The audio for the latest Farmstros Farm Report is available in the Favorites section. For your convenience, I have set the link up to go to the archive of all reports, so readers can easily listen to an old report.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Transactions Page for 2009 Season

Fernando Abad, LHP promoted from Lancaster to Corpus Christi(August)

Erick Abreu, RHP placed on Corpus Christi's Disabled List(April); activated from Corpus Christi's Disabled List(April); sent from Corpus Christi to Lancaster(May); promoted from Lancaster to Corpus Christi(June); promoted from Corpus Christi to Round Rock(July); sent from Round Rock to Corpus Christi(August)

Ruben Alaniz, RHP signed and assigned to GCL Astros(August)

Jose Altuve, IF promoted from Greeneville to Tri-City(August)

Doug Arguello, LHP placed on Corpus Christi's Disabled List(June); activated from Corpus Christi's Disabled List(August)

Alberto Arias, RHP promoted from Round Rock to Houston(April); optioned to Round Rock from Houston(April); promoted to Houston(May)

Jay Austin, OF added to Lexington's disabled list(June); activated from Lexington's Disabled List(June); placed on Lexington's Disabled List(August); activated from Lexington's Disabled List(August)

Brandon Barnes, OF promoted from Lexington to Lancaster(June); promoted from Lancaster to Corpus Christi(September)

Kenny Baugh, RHP signed and assigned to Corpus Christi(July)

Yorman Bazardo,RHP activated from the Inactive List to the Round Rock roster(April); contract purchased and promoted to Houston(August)

Armando Benitez, RHP signed and assigned to Round Rock(August)

David Berner, RHP placed on Tri-City's Disabled List(August)

Ricardo Bonfante, IF placed on Lexington's Disabled List(May); sent to GCL Astros for rehab assignment(July)

Steve Brown, OF placed on Lexington's Disabled List(April); activated from Lexington's Disabled List(May); promoted from Lexington to Lancaster(August)

Garrett Bullock, LHP signed and assigned to Greeneville(June); sent from Greeneville to GCL Astros(July)

T.J. Burton, RHP promoted from Corpus Christi to Round Rock(July); sent from Round Rock to Corpus Christi(August); placed on Corpus Christi's Disabled List(August)

Jose Capellan, RHP placed on Round Rock's Disabled List(August); activated from Round Rock's Disabled List(August)

Albert Cartwright, IF placed on Lexington's Disabled List(May); activated from Lexington's Disabled List(June)

Jason Castro, C promoted from Lancaster to Corpus Christi(June); leaves Corpus Christi to participate in World Cup(September)

Leandro Cespedes, RHP activated to Lancaster's roster(May)

Kirk Clark, RHP signed and assigned to Tri-City(August)

Koby Clemens, C promoted from Lancaster to Corpus Christi(April); sent from Corpus Christi to Lancaster(May)

Jordan Comadena, C promoted from Lexington to Lancaster(April); placed on Lancaster's Inactive List(May); activated from Lancaster's inactive list(May); added to Lancaster's Inactive List(May); reactivated to Lancaster's roster(June); placed on Lancaster's Inactive List(June); reactivated from Lancaster's Inactive List(June); called up from Lancaster to Corpus Christi(July); sent from Corpus Christi to Lancaster(July)

Roy Corcoran, RHP signed and assigned to Round Rock(August)

Casey Daigle , RHP signed as a free agent and assigned to Round Rock.(April)

Jorge DeLeon,IF promoted from Extended Spring Training to Lexington(May); sent from Lexington to Tri-City(July)

Michael Diaz, IF promoted from Extended Spring Training to Corpus Christi(May); sent from Corpus Christi to Lexington(May)

Phil Disher, 1B added to Lexington's Disabled List(May)

Russ Dixon, OF sent from Lexington to Extended Spring Training(May); promoted from Tri-City to Lexington(August)

Jason Dominguez, RHP released from Lancaster(April)

Brendan Donnelly, RHP signed as a free agent and assigned to Round Rock(April); filed for free agency(July)

David Duncan, LHP placed on Lancaster's Inactive List(June); sent from Lancaster to Tri-City and activated(June);promoted from Tri-City to Lexington(July)

German Duran, IF signed and assigned to GCL Astros(July); promoted to Corpus Christi to continue rehab(July); optioned to Corpus Christi(August); placed on Corpus Christi's Disabled List(August)

Jose Duran, RHP placed on Lancaster's Disabled List(May); activated from Lancaster's Disabled List(June)

Brad Dydalewicz, LHP placed on Lexington's Disabled List(April); activated from Lexington's Disabled List(May)

Mitch Einertson, OF suspended for 50 games for drug abuse policy violation(August)

Evan Englebrook, RHP activated to Round Rock's roster(May); sent from Round Rock to Corpus Christi(May); placed on Corpus Christi's Disabled List(June); activated from the Corpus Christi Disabled List(July)

Brian Esposito, C promoted from Corpus Christi to Round Rock(April); sent from Round Rock to Corpus Christi(May); called up from Corpus Christi to Round Rock(July); sent from Round Rock to Corpus Christi(July); promoted from Corpus Christi to Round Rock(July)

Paul Estrada, RHP placed on Corpus Christi's Inactive List(May); promoted to Round Rock(May); released from Round Rock(May)

Tip Fairchild, RHP signed and assigned to Lancaster(July)

Max Fearnow, RHP signed and assigned to Tri-City(June)

Oscar Figueroa, 1B promoted from Greeneville to Tri-City(September)

Jonathan Fixler, C sent from Corpus Christi to Lancaster(June); promoted from Lancaster to Round Rock(July); after a brief stop in Corpus Christi to cover for Jason Castro who was at the Futures Game, sent from Round Rock to Lancaster(July); promoted from Lancaster to Corpus Christi(July)

Jhon Florentino, IF added to Corpus Christi's Disabled List(May); activated from Corpus Christi's Disabled List(May)

David Flores, IF placed on Lancaster's Disabled List(July); activated from Lancaster's Disabled List(August); placed on Lancaster's Disabled List(August)

Josh Flores, OF placed on Corpus Christi's Disabled List(June)

John Frawley, RHP signed and assigned to GCL Astros(August)

Jeff Fulchino, RHP promoted from Round Rock to Houston(April); optioned to Round Rock from Houston(April); promoted from Round Rock to Houston(April); optioned to Round Rock from Houston(May); promoted to Houston(May)

Gabriel Garcia, LHP suspended for PED policy violation(August)

Geoff Geary, RHP outrighted from Houston to Round Rock(June)

Sammy Gervacio, RHP promoted from Round Rock to Houston(July); optioned from Houston to Round Rock(August); promoted from Round Rock to Houston(August)

Kyle Godfrey, RHP promoted from Tri-City to Lexington(July)

Abraham Gonzazlez, RHP signed and assigned to Greeenville(August)

Pedro Gonzalez, C placed on Lancaster's inactive list(April); moved from Lancster's inactive list to Lexington's roster(April); sent from Lexington to Tri-City(June)

Murillo Gouvea, RHP acquired in a trade from Chicago White Sox and assigned to Greeneville(July)

Michael Hacker, LHP promoted from Extended Spring Training to Lexington(May); placed on Lexington's Disabled List(August); activated from Lexington's Disabled List(August)

Justin Harper, RHP placed on Tri-City's Disabled List(August)

Clay Hensley, RHP released from Round Rock's roster(April)

Federico Hernandez, C placed on Lexington's Disabled List(August); activated from Lexington's Disabled List(August)

Kody Hinze, IF added to Lexington's inactive list(May); activated from Lexington's Inactive List and sent to GCL Astros(July)

Casey Hudspeth, RHP sent from Corpus Christi to Lancaster(July); placed on Lancaster's Disabled List(August)

Jeff Hulett, IF promoted from Tri-City to Lexington(July)

Jeff Icenogle, LHP released by Lancaster(July)

Wilton Infante, OF signed and assigned to GCL Astros(July); promoted from GCL Astros to Greeneville(July)

Eli Iorg, OF activated to the Round Rock roster(April); placed on Round Rock's Disabled List(May); activated from Round Rock's Disabled List and sent from Round Rock to Tri-City(July); released from organization(July)

Chris Jackson, IF sent from Lancaster to Lexington(July)

Brad James, RHP placed on Corpus Christi's Disabled List(August)

Chris Johnson, 3B was placed on Round Rock's Disabled List(April); activated from Round Rock's Disabled List(April); placed on Round Rock's Disabled List(April); activated from Disabled List and sent to Lancaster(May); promoted from Lancaster to Round Rock(May); contract purchased and promoted from Round Rock to Houston(September)

Jeremy Johnson, RHP released by Round Rock(July)

Matt Kata, IF called up by Houston(May); optioned Houston to Round Rock(July); called up from Round Rock to Houston(July); optioned from Houston to Round Rock(August); outrighted to Round Rock, removed from 40-man roster(September)

Reid Kelly, RHP placed on Lancaster's Disabled List(July); activated from disabled list and released(July)

Chia-jen Lo, RHP promoted from Lancaster to Corpus Christi(May); added to Corpus Christi's Disabled List(May); activated from Corpus Christi's Disabled List(June)

Drew Locke, OF placed on Corpus Christi's Disabled List(September)

Jose Lopez, C assigned to GCL Astros(August); promoted from GCL Astros to Corpus Christi(September)

Wilton Lopez, RHP claimed off of waivers from San Diego, assigned to CC(April); activated to the Corpus Christi Roster(April); promoted from Corpus Christi to Houston(August)

Tyler Lumsden, LHP placed on Round Rock's Disabled List(April); moved from Round Rock's disabled list to the inactive list(April); added to Round Rock's active roster(May); sent from Round Rock to Corpus Christi(July)

Tommy Manzella, SS promoted from Round Rock to Houston(September)

Julio Martinez, OF promoted from Greeneville to Tri-City(July)

Edwin Maysonet, IF promoted to Houston(May); optioned from Houston to Round Rock(June); promoted to Houston(July); optioned from Houston to Round Rock(July); promoted from Round Rock to Houston(August)

Tio McClean, RHP, signed and assigned to Greeneville(June); sent from Greeneville to GCL Astros(August)

Mark McClemore, LHP activated from disabled list to Round Rock's roster(June); placed on Round Rock's Inactive List(August)

Ryan McKeller, RHP sent from Round Rock to Corpus Christi(May); promoted from Corpus Christi to Round Rock(September)

Danny Meier, OF released by Tri-City(July)

Daniel Meszaros, RHP promoted from Lexington to Corpus Christi(May)

Nathan Metroka, OF promoted from Extended Spring Training to Lexington(April); sent from Lexington to Extended Spring Training(May)

Scott Migl, RHP promoted from Greeneville to Tri-City(July); sent from Tri-City to Greeneville(August)

Kyle Miller, IF sent from Lexington to Extended Spring Training(May); promoted from Extended Spring Training to Lexington(May); sent from Lexington to Greeneville(July)

Chris Minaker, IF released from Lancaster(May)

Felix Molina, IF activated from the Inactive List to Corpus Christi's Roster(April); placed on Corpus Christi's Inactive List(August); activated from Corpus Christi's Inactive List(August)

Nick Moresi, OF promoted from Lancaster to Corpus Christi(June)

Ashton Mowdy, promoted from Extended Spring Training to Lexington(April); promoted from Lexington to Lancaster(July)

Neal Musser, RHP released from Round Rock's roster(April)

Matt Nevarez, RHP acquired from Texas and assigned to Lexington(August)

Antonio Noguera, LHP promoted from Tri-City to Lexington(August); place on Lexington's Inactive List(August)

Bud Norris, RHP contract purchased and promoted to Houston(July)

Ben Orloff, IF sent from Tri-City to Greeneville(August)

J.J. Pacella, RHP released from Lancaster(May)

Lou Palmisano, C removed from Disabled List and released(May)

Chad Paronto, RHP activated to the Round Rock roster(April); placed on Round Rock's Disabled List(June); activated from Round Rock's Disabled List(July); contract purchased and assigned to Houston(July); sent from Houston to Round Rock(July); contract purchased and promoted from Round Rock to Houston(September)

Wilder Parra, C promoted from GCL Astros to Lexington(August); sent from Lexington to GCL Astros(August)

Felipe Paulino, RHP promoted from Round Rock to Houston(April); optioned from Houston to Round Rock(July); promoted from Round Rock to Houston(August); optioned from Houston to Round Rock(August); promoted from Round Rock to Houston(August)

Brian Pellegrini, OF sent from Lancaster to Lexington(May)

German Perez, LHP assigned to GCL Astros(August)

Reinaldo Pestana, C promoted from Extended Spring Training to Lexington(June)

Nathan Pettus, RHP promoted from Greeneville to Tri-City(July)

Jacob Priday, OF added to Lexington's Restricted List(May)

Felix Ramirez, RHP suspended for PED policy violation(July)

Ronnie Ramirez, IF promoted from Lexington to Lancaster(July)

Raul Rivera, RHP signed and assigned to GCL Astros(August)

Kirkland Rivers, LHP promoted from Extended Spring Training to Lexington(May); placed on Lexington's Inactive List(June); activated to Lexington's roster(July)

Philip Rorabaugh, RHP signed and assigned to GCL Astros(July)

Ebert Rosario, IF promoted from Lexington to Lancaster(July)

Philip Rummel, RHP promoted from Extended Spring Training to Lancaster(April)

Billy Sadler, RHP signed and assigned to GCL Astros on a rehab assignment(August); sent to Round Rock after rehab assignment with GCL Astros(August); contract purchased and promoted from Round Rock to Houston(September)

Ray Sadler, OF signed and assigned to Corpus Christi(August)

Chris Salamida, LHP sent from Corpus Christi to Lancaster(July)

Chris Sampson, RHP optioned from Houston to Round Rock(August)

Max Sapp, C added to Lexington's Disabled List(May)

Daniel Sarisky, RHP promoted from Greeneville to Tri-City(August)

Michael Schurz, RHP promoted from GCL Astros to Tri-City(August)

Rob Semerano, RHP released from Corpus Christi(May)

Sergio Severino, LHP sent from Lancaster to Extended Spring Training(May)

Andrew Simunic, IF promoted from Extended Spring Training to Lexington(May); placed on Lexington's Inactive List(June); activated from Lancaster's Inactive List(June); sent from Lancaster to Lexington(June); promoted from Lexington to Lancaster(August)

Jason Smith, IF outrighted from Houston to Round Rock(May)

Chad Spann, IF promoted from Corpus Christi to Round Rock(April); sent from Round Rock to Corpus Christi(May); promoted to Round Rock(May); placed on Round Rock's Inactive List(July); activated from Round Rock's inactive list(July); placed on Round Rock's inactive list(August); activated from inactive list(August); sent from Round Rock to Corpus Christi(August)

T.J. Steele, OF moved from Lancaster's Disabled List to the active roster(April); placed on Lancaster's Disabled List(April); moved from Disabled List to active roster(May)

Gabe Suarez, IF signed as a free agent and added to Lancaster's roster(May); placed on Lancaster's Disabled List(July)

Wladamir Sutil, IF placed on Corpus Christi's Disabled List(May); moved from Corpus Christi's Disabled List to the active roster(May)

Eric Suttle, OF signed as a free agent and assigned to Lancaster(May); sent from Lancaster to Lexington(June)

Drew Sutton, IF sent to Cincinnati as player to be named later for Jeff Keppinger(April)

Eric Taylor, IF moved to Lancaster's Inactive List(April); placed on Lancaster's active roster(April); retired from Lancaster(May)

Jack Tilghman, RHP promoted from Lexington to Lancaster(May)

J.R. Towles, C promoted from Round Rock to Houston(April); optioned from Houston to Round Rock(May); placed on Round Rock's Disabled List(July); activated from Round Rock Disabled List(July); placed on Round Rock's Bereavement List(July); activated from bereavement list(July); placed on Round Rock's Disabled List(July); activated from Round Rock's Disabled List(August); promoted from Round Rock to Houston(September)

Jose Trinidad, RHP placed on Lexington's Disabled List(May);activated from Lexington's Disabled List(June); placed on Lexington's Disabled List(July)

Polin Trinidad, LHP placed on Corpus Christi's Disabled List(April);moved from Corpus Christi's Disabled List to the active roster(May); promoted from Corpus Christi to Round Rock(July)

Pat Urckfitz, RHP promoted from Lexington to Lancaster(August)


Jose Vallejo, 2B acquired in trade with Texas and assigned to Round Rock(August)

Andy Van Hekken, LHP promoted from Corpus Christi to Round Rock(May); sent from Round Rock to Corpus Christi(May); placed on Corpus Christi's Inactive List(June); activated from Corpus Christi's inactive list(June); promoted from Corpus Christi to Round Rock(August)

Jimmy Van Ostrand, OF leaves Corpus Christi to participate in World Cup(September)

Chad Wagler, RHP sent from Corpus Christi to Lancaster(May); retired(June)

Matt Weston, 1B signed and assigned to Lancaster(June)

Charlie Weatherby, RHP signed and assigned to Corpus Christi(July)

Brandon Wikoff, IF promoted from Tri-City to Lexington(July)

Marques Williams, OF promoted from Extended Spring Training to Lexington(May); placed on Lexington's Disabled List(June); activated from Lancaster's Disabled List(August)

Wesley Wright, LHP optioned from Houston to Round Rock(May); promoted from Round Rock to Houston(June); optioned from Houston to Round Rock(June); promoted from Round Rock to Houston(June); optioned from Houston to Round Rock(June); promoted from Round Rock to Houston(July)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

With the First Selection in the 2009 Rule 5 Draft

One aspect of maintaining this blog which I enjoy is that it gives me a chance to study numerous functions of a baseball franchise that I might not find much information about on the Astros big league website or in other outlets that focus mainly on the happenings at Minute Maid Park.
For example, as the season opener draws near, I am fairly certain that one of many things in the minds of the Astros minor league staff is the Rule 5 draft status of their players. At the end of the 2009 season, about 25 players will be eligible for the Rule 5 draft in December for the first time unless they are added to the 40-man roster in the fall.

I assume that two of these players, Chris Johnson and Bud Norris will be on the 40-man roster before the regular season wraps up. In addition to Norris and Johnson, there are five players who could increase their value and force their way onto the 40-man roster with a strong season:

Sergio Perez, P. Perez was injury plagued in 2008. The starter was in big league camp as a non-roster invitee.

Bryan Hallberg, P. Hallberg was a solid set up man in High A in 2008. A repeat in AA could merit him the protection of a 40-man spot.

Jimmy Van Ostrand, 1B/OF. Van Ostrand was solid in Salem, struggled in Corpus and represented Canada in the Olympics in 2008. I assume he will be making his case in the Corpus Christi outfield in 2009.

Koby Clemens, C. Clemens is still a work in progress as a catcher. However, a big showing in 2009 may make a team willing to take a Rule 5 shot on him.

Leandro Cespedes, P. Cespedes was the most consistent starter at Low A Lexington last season. He is a long shot, but a strong High A showing, could land him on the 40-man roster.


In addition to these five players, Mark Ori, Chris Blazek, Tip Fairchild, and Josh Flores will be in their second year of Rule 5 eligibility and may merit a look the second time around. This was the case with Drew Sutton, who was left vulnerable to the 2007 Rule 5 Draft before being added to the 40-man roster last fall.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Palmisano Staying; Five NRI Reassigned

Lou Palmisano will be staying in the Houston organization. Palmisano, a catcher the Astros got in a trade from Baltimore after the Orioles picked him from Milwaukee in the Rule 5 draft, was offered back to Milwaukee. However, the declined taking Palmisano back, so the Astros will keep him. The plan is for him to battle for playing time at Round Rock.

Meanwhile over the weekend, five non-roster invitees were reassigned to the minor league camp:
Clay Hensley, P
Neal Musser, P
Danny Graves, P
Matt Kata, IF
John Gall, IF

The moves along with the announcement of Brandon Backe's disabled list stay to start the season, leaves the team with 37 players in camp, including 9 non-roster invitees.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Express Staff at Spring Training

The Round Rock Express have at least two of their staff, including Avery Holton filing reports on the Astros and the Express spring. I have included a link to this coverage in the Recent Articles section.

Two Down To Round Rock

The numbers in the Astros big league camp got smaller Friday morning as the club optioned OF Brian Bogusevic and SS Tommy Manzella to Round Rock. Bogusevic was 7 for 28 during the spring. Manzella only had two hits in 15 spring at bats. This transaction leaves Houston with 43 players in camp. This number includes Pudge Rodriguez. 14 of the 43 players remaining are non-roster invitees.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

New Farm Report Audio Available

I have just linked the newest FARM REPORT in the FARMSTROS FAVORITES SECTION. Archives of FARM REPORTS will be available near the bottom of the page on the right.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Top 10 Prospect Guide

I recently was asked by the Director of Media Relations of the Lancaster Jet Hawks to write a guide to the top 10 Astros minor league prospects for inclusion in the club's game program. The following is the list I submitted. Buy a program and check it out again if you are at Clear Channel Field during the first third of the season.

THE TOP 10 PROSPECTS IN THE ASTROS ORGANIZATION
#10 Felipe Paulino RHP Round Rock(AAA)

Paulino, 25 was near the top of the franchise’s prospect list after an impressive 2007 season, which included a few big league starts in a September call-up. However, the Dominican Republic native missed the entire 2008 campaign with arm issues, which have set his development back several steps. He joined the big league club in camp this spring, but the health of his arm for a whole season is still in question.

Farmstros Fact: Paulino was the starter and winning pitcher in the final game of Craig Biggio’s career.

#9 Polin Trinidad LHP Corpus Christi(AA)

Trinidad has a good fastball and slider. The Astros signed the 25-year old out of the Dominican Republic in 2002. He split 2008 between Salem(High A) and Corpus Christi(AA). He made a total of 28 starts(18, AA; 10, High A). For the season he pitched 169 innings with a 3.14 ERA.

Farmstros Fact: Trinidad was the pitcher of the month for Salem in April and Corpus Christi in June last season.

#8 Collin DeLome OF Lancaster(High A)

DeLome, 23 was selected in the 5th Round of the 2007 draft out of Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, within 100 miles of Minute Maid Park. DeLome showed some pop with 22 home runs in 453 at bats between Low A, Lexington and High A, Salem last season. He has some speed(14 stolen bases) and the club needs him to hit for more average in 2009(.252 in 2008).

Farmstros Fact: DeLome was the highest pick that the Astros signed from the 2007 draft class.

#7 Drew Sutton IF Round Rock(AAA)

Repeating class AA suited Sutton well in 2008. The 25 year-old led the Hooks in many offensive categories, earning himself a spot on Houston’s 40-man roster for this season. Sutton batted .317 with 39 doubles, 20 home runs and 69 RBI. The switch-hitter was selected in the 15th round of the 2004 draft.

Farmstros Fact: Sutton was Corpus Christi’s MVP in 2008.

#6 Jordan Lyles RHP Lexington(Low A)

The Astros selected Lyles 38th overall in the 2008 draft. His selection came on the day he graduated from Hartsville High School in South Carolina. The 18-year old made 13 starts with a 3.99 ERA at rookie level Greeneville last summer before an end of season call-up to Tri-City of the NewYork-Penn League.

Farmstros Fact: Lyles was a two-sport star and as a wide receiver set school records with 81 catches, 1568 yards, and 23 touchdowns his senior year.

#5 Brian Bogusevic OF Round Rock(AAA)

Bogusevic, 25 made the switch from pitching prospect to outfield prospect look simple last summer. Three years after being selected in the first round of the 2005 draft, he moved from the mound to the Corpus Christi outfield, where proceeded to bat .371 with eight stolen bases in 42 games. The left-handed hitter continued the transition in the Arizona Fall League, where he batted .338 in 74 at bats.

Farmstros Fact: Bogusevic played for Tulane in the 2005 College World Series.

#4 Chris Johnson 3B Round Rock(AAA)

Johnson, 26 is the anticipated third baseman of the future for Houston. He put up solid offensive numbers for AA Corpus Christi in 2008. He hit .324 with 24 doubles, 12 home runs and 58 RBI before being called up for 30 games at AAA. His defense is big league ready and waiting for his bat to prove itself.

Farmstros Fact: Johnson’s father is the manager of Boston’s AAA team in Pawtucket.

#3 Ross Seaton RHP Lexington(Low A)

The Astros picked Seaton out of Second Baptist Academy in Houston in the third round of the 2008 draft. Seaton, 19 only pitched in three professional games last summer. However, in his senior year of high school, he struck out 110 batters in 68 innings posting a 1.34 ERA.

Farmstros Fact: Seaton planned to play college baseball at Tulane before signing with the Astros.

#2 Bud Norris RHP Round Rock(AAA)

Norris, 24 has moved rapidly through the Astros’ system since being selected in the 6th Round of the 2006 draft out of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. The Greenbrae, CA native started 19 games for Corpus Christi in 2008, striking out 84 in 80 innings. Norris’ lack of a third strong pitch has led to speculation that he will be a bullpen prospect rather than a starter long term.

Farmstros Fact: Norris nickname originated when as a young child he copied his father’s drink order of Budweiser at the dinner table.

#1 Jason Castro C Lancaster(High A)

Castro, the 10th pick in the 2008 draft got right to work as a professional last summer. He batted .275 in 39 games for Tri-City and then batted .333 in 78 at bats in the Hawaii winter league. Out of Stanford, the left-handed hitter is already being projected as the Astros catcher of the future.

Farmstros Fact: Castro was selected by Boston in the 2005 draft, but opted to go to Stanford.

Paulino to Round Rock

Felipe Paulino, with an ERA of over 12 this spring, has been optioned down to Round Rock. Paulino, who missed all of last season is still working on regaining command of his pitches.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Minor League ST Schedule Comes into Focus

It looks like minor league games will be starting in Kissimmee on Saturday, March 21. As I've mentioned before figuring out the minor league spring training schedule is like piecing together a puzzle. The Astros are grouped with Detroit, Washington, and Atlanta for minor league spring training games. I have been able to dig up Detroit and Washington's schedules. Also, an office staffer of one of Atlanta's farm teams threw me one bone. So, if you are going to be in Florida in the next weeks, here's when and where you should be able to see some Farmstros playing on the back fields:

Please note that games start at noon Florida time and the general format is that the AA and AAA teams play at one team's facility and the two Class A play at the other location.

March 21- Detroit, AA/AAA(Away); Class A(Home)
March 22- Atlanta(This is a piece of the puzzle I am guessing on)
March 23- Washington,AA/AAA(Home); Class A(Away)
March 24- Camp Day(Intrasquad games)
March 25- Atlanta(Another incomplete piece)
March 26- Washington, AA/AAA(Away); Class A(Home)
March 27- Detroit, AA/AAA(Home); Class A(Away)
March 28- Washington, AA/AAA(Home); Class A(Away)
March 29- Atlanta(Help me out Braves with information)
March 30- Detroit, AA/AAA(Away); Class A(Home)
March 31- Detroit, AA/AAA(Home); Class A(Away)
April 1- Camp Day(Intrasquad Games)
April 2- Atlanta(?)
April 3- Washington, AA/AAA (Away); Class A(Home)

Since Corpus Christi(AA) is playing Houston at Whataburger Field on April 2, I assume that the April 2 and 3 dates won't include them or teams will need to be altered for those contests.

Six Sent Down, Nieve gone

Seven players left the Astros major league camp this weekend. Six of them are still in Osceola County, but not right-handed pitcher Fernando Nieve.

Nieve, who had been in the Houston system since 1999, was picked up by the Mets after being place on irrevocable waivers. Nieve has never stuck with the big league club, in part due to various injury struggles. He was out of options this spring so he had to make the big league roster out of camp or clear waivers in order to be sent down eventually. With the bullpen as set as it is, there is really no place to put Nieve, so letting him go is not a huge surprise.

Six other players were sent to the minor league camp at Kissimmee:

Optioned to Round Rock
Sammy Gervacio, RHP
Tyler Lumsden, LHP
Yordany Ramirez, OF
Drew Sutton, IF
Polin Trinidad, LHP

Reassigned to minor league camp
Mark Saccomanno, IF


To me, Sutton being sent down, while Tommy Manzella and Edwin Maysonet stay in big league camp sheds some light on the club's priority of having a pure shortstop as the back up infielder. Neither Manzella nor Maysonet has hit as well as Sutton this spring(or last season for that matter). Yet, it looks like at this point, the gloves have the edge.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Farmstros Goes Audio

Please give a listen to the first installment of the Farmstros Farm Report...a two minute rundown of what is going on throughout the minor league system. The link to the audio is in the FARMSTROS FAVORITES section.

Sapp is Out of the Hospital

Astros catching prospect Max Sapp has been released from the hospital after a 36-hour stay. Sapp suffered seizures Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. I have included a link to the Chronicle story about Sapp's release in the Recent Articles section.

Send Downs coming up

With minor league games starting some time next week in Florida, the Astros have indicated that they will send some of their young players on the 40-man roster Monday.

A quick guess of who is being optioned:
Sammy Gervacio, P
Tyler Lumsden, P
Polin Trinidad, P
Tommy Manzella, IF
Edwin Maysonet, IF
Yordany Ramirez, OF

Also, I would guess non-roster invites Mark Saccomanno, IF and Lou Santangelo, C will be headed to the minor league camp soon.

Winter Baseball in Florida- October 30

There is a new winter league slated to start play in Florida on October 30. The league is not officially affiliated with major league baseball, but it will serve as an option for teams to send players to Florida rather than out of the country. The league will have teams in Miami, Leesburg, Sanford, and Cocoa.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Oswalt, Pence, Lidge Headline Express 10-year team

To celebrate their tenth season in Round Rock, the Express have announced an all-time team based on online fan voting. Roy Oswalt, Hunter Pence, and Brad Lidge headline the squad. A link is posted in the recent articles section.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Sapp Re-hospitalized

Astros catching prospect Max Sapp suffered two seizures Tuesday night and Wednesday morning and has been hospitalized. Sapp has been making progress after a life-threatening case of viral meningitis in December. I have included a link to the Astros.com story on Sapp's status in the recent articles section.

Hooks and Astros to be on Fox Sports

Fox Sports Southwest and Fox Sports Houston will kick off a slate of ten minor league baseball games this season with coverage of the Hooks/Astros exhibition game April 2 at 6:05 from Whataburger Field. Larry Dierker and Kelly Wunsch will provide color commentary for the games joining the play-by-play announcer from Round Rock(Mike Capps) or Corpus Christi(Matt Hicks). Here's a schedule of the games to be broadcasted:

April 2, Astros at Hooks, 6:05
May 14, Frisco at Hooks, 7:05
May 28, Arkansas at Hooks, 7:05
June 22, San Antonio at Hooks, 7:05
June 25, San Antonio at Hooks, 7:05
June 28, Iowa at Express, 7:05
July 2, Nashville at Express, 7:05
July 23, Albuquerque at Express, 7:05
July 26, Frisco at Hooks, 6:05
August 6, Tacoma at Express, 7:05

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Let the Healing...Continue

As the Astros rebuild their farm system, the draft and player development are crucial. However, success in the training room will also play a part. For example, in 2008, four players who were scheduled to play in AA or higher were injured or recovering from injury the entire season. The return to health of any of these players will bolster the organization.

Felipe Paulino, P. Paulino was slated to battle for a spot in the 2008 after a brief call-up at the end of 2007. However, a season of arm problems has Paulino back at square one this spring.

Josh Flores, OF. Flores split 2007 between Salem and Round Rock, and looked to be a starter for the Hooks in 2008. However, he stepped off a curb a few weeks before spring training and ended his season. According to Ricky Bennett he is headed to Corpus this April.

Sergio Perez, P. Perez made 25 starts and pitched 128 innings for Salem in 2007. However, he started the 2008 season with hamstring issues. He was able to pitch 27 innings for the Hooks before breaking his finger trying to bunt.

Tip Fairchild, P. Fairchild underwent Tommy John surgery in 2007. He spent 2008, trying to get his arm strength back at Corpus Christi. He split 2006 between Lexington and Salem. Between the two places, he pitched 173 innings with a 2.50 combined ERA.

Castro heads to Minors, Canada out of WBC

Jason Castro's first major league training camp ended Tuesday when he was reassigned to minor league camp. Castro had one hit in six spring at bats.
With Houston's minor leaguers having their first full workout tomorrow, the Astros trimmed four players, including Castro from the big league camp roster. Pitcher Brad James was optioned to Round Rock. Pitcher Sergio Perez and Catcher Brian Esposito were reassigned to the minor league camp.

Meanwhile, the final three Farmstros in the World Baseball Classic can head to Kissimmee. Team Canada was eliminated by Italy on Monday meaning Infielder Chris Barnwell, Pitcher T.J. Burton and Greeneville coach Stubby Clapp can head to Osceola County. Barnwell led off both games for Canada going 0 for 7.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Farmstro leads off for Canada

Astros minor leaguer, Chris Barnwell led off for Canada and went 0 for 4 in that nation's World Baseball Classic loss to the USA on Saturday at Toronto. Barnwell is the only Farmstro to appear in the Classic thus far. His Canadian and Farmstro teammater pitcher T.J. Burton did not appear in Saturday's game. Pitcher Chia-jen Lo represented Chinese Taipei(Taiwan), but didn't make in appearance in the that nation's two losses.
Canada will face Italy Monday at Toronto in an elimination contest.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Kansas City Connection Continues

The influx of talent to the Astros from the Kansas City system continues as Houston signs left-handed pitcher Neal Musser to a minor league contract with an invite to big league spring training. Musser had been designated for assignment when the Royals dropped him from the 40-man roster. With that signing, the Astros now have 16 new players in big league camp, six of those 16 were in the Royals organization last season. The Royal blue hue is even more prominent in the pitching staff. Their are nine new pitchers in camp, five of those nine came over from the Royals. The six from Missouri: Jose Capellan, Tyler Lumsden, Jeff Fulchino, Gilbert de LaVara, Jason Smith(IF) and Musser.

Musser, 28 was selected in the 2nd Round of the 1998 draft by the Mets. He spent parts of two seasons in the major leagues with Kansas City, appearing in 18 games. He had an 0.49 ERA for Omaha in 32 games in 2007. Last season, he made 37 appearances with a 4.34 ERA in 56 innings for Omaha.

Nine Questions for '09- #9

HOW SUCCESSFUL WILL THE 2009 DRAFT BE?

With minor league pitchers and catchers reporting tomorrow, I'd like to close out this series of nine questions for '09, by looking forward to June. June 9 and 10, Bobby Heck and his staff will be attempting to build on the 2008 draft, by selecting another crop of young talent. After the 2009 draft is completed, it will be up to the people who control the money to bring that talent into the fold.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Nine Questions for '09- #8

HOW WILL THE CLASS OF 2008 FARE IN THEIR FIRST FULL SEASON?

With Jason Castro heading the pack, the Astros started rebuilding the farm system through the draft last summer. The team signed 19 of the first 21 players they picked. In all, 32 players were added to the organization via the draft. With a summer, and for most of the draft picks Fall Instructional League workouts, under their belt, the first full professional is the next major hurdle on the road to Minute Maid Park. Following is a look at 10 notable performers from last summer:

Jordan Lyles(1st Round Supplemental)...The right-handed pitcher made 13 starts at Greeneville with a 3.99 ERA in 50 innings before an end-of-season stint at Tri-City.

Jay Austin(2nd)... The outfielder struggled at Greeneville .198 in 212 at bats. However, he is still rated highly on the lists I've seen.

Ross Seaton(3rd, supplemental)... The right-handed pitcher only made three appearances for Greeneville. It will be interesting to see if he ends up in Lexington as Ricky Bennett indicates is the plan and how does there.

T.J. Steele(4th)...The outfielder hit .283 in 159 at bats for Tri-City.

Jack Shuck(6th)...The outfielder hit .300 in 263 at bats for Tri-City.

Jarred Holloway(10th)...the left-hander made thirteen starts with a 4.07 ERA in 49 innings for Tri-City.

Phil Disher(15th)...The first baseman batted .304 with 13 home runs and 56 RBI in 280 at bats for Tri-City.

Michael Hacker(25th)...the lefty made 23 apperances for Tri-City, posting a 2.73 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 26 innings.

Philip Rummel(31st)...the righty had 31 strikeouts and a 2.84 ERA in 38 innings for Tri-City.

Nathan Metroka(47th)...the outfielder hit .327 with three home runs in 113 at bats for Greeneville.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Ricky Bennett's Chat and Mini-Camp

Ricky Bennett had a chat with Jose de Jesus Ortiz at Chron.com today. I've included the link to this full chat in the Recent Articles section. He mentioned a few players who are at the minor-league mini-camp, going on now in Kissimmee and where some of them are slated to start the regular season.

T.J. Steele, OF- Lancaster
Ross Seaton, RHP- Lexington
Koby Clemens, C
Josh Flores, OF- Corpus Christi

Nine Questions for '09- #7

WILL ANYTHING GOOD COME FROM LAST SEASON'S CLASS A TEAMS?

The weakness of the Astros farm system was most noticeable in Class A last year. Salem(High A) was 8th best of eight teams in the Carolina League, Lexington(Low A) had the worst record in the 16 team South Atlantic League, and short-season A Tri-City was 13th out of 14 teams in the New York-Penn League. Despite the lack of team success in 2008, there are some prospects from those levels who merit keeping an eye on in 2009. Following is a quick look at 10 of those players. Please note that several 2008 draft picks made an impression during 2008 at Class A(especially at Tri-City), these 2008 draft picks will be addressed in tommorow's question #8.

Most Likely starting out at Corpus Christi:

Doug Arguello, LHP, 24. Arguello had a break out season at Salem last year. He pitched 142 innings with a 3.30 ERA. It was his most successful pro season. If it wasn't a fluke, Corpus should have a strong left arm this year.

Jimmy Van Ostrand, OF, 24. Van Ostrand struggled in a brief call-up to AA last season. However, the Canadian Olympian hit .292 with 64 RBI at Salem in 97 games.

Mark Ori, 1B, 25. Ori was the top hitter for Salem in 2008. He batted .304 with 89 RBI. He led the Carolina League with 151 hits.

Jhon Florentino, IF, 25. Florentino received mention for his glove and arm at third base last season. He also batted .290 with 48 RBI and 14 SB.

Bryan Hallberg, P, 23. Hallberg missed a few days early last season, when his wife gave birth to their first child. After that, Papa Hallberg pitched 81 innings out of the Salem bullpen with a 2.68 ERA.

Most Likely starting the season in Lancaster:

Collin DeLome, OF, 23. DeLome, the highest signed pick of the 2007 draft, split 2008 between Lexington and Salem. He hit .261 with with 12 home runs in 61 games at Lexington before moving up to Salem, where he struggled at the plate(.232 in 68 games).

Fernando Abad, P, 23. Abad posted a 3.30 Era in 45 relief appearances(76 IP) for Lexington. He also struck out 94 while walking only 13.

Leandro Cespedes, P, 21. Cespedes was Lexington's opening day starter. He went on to make 27 starts and pitch 130 innings. He had 137 strikeouts and a 4.02 ERA.

J. J. Pacella, P, 25. Pacella was signed out of Independent baseball prior to last season. He ended the season as Lexington's closer. He had 12 saves and, 73 strikeouts and a 3.02 ERA in 60 innings.

Most Likely Starting at Lexington:

Kyle Greenwalt, P, 20. Greenwalt, a 2008 draft pick spent most of the season at Greeneville. made 13 starts there, posting a 3.14 ERA in 72 innings. He made two appearances at Tri-City at the end of the season.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Johnson close to majors, Priday restricted

According to an article in SI.com Ed Wade said that infielder Chris Johnson is the Astros' "closest to a majors prospect."

In another note, outfielder Jacob Priday who was drafted last summer out of Missouri is on the restricted list. Priday spent last year at Tri-City and Lexington after being drafted.

Nine Questions for '09- #6

HOW WILL YEAR TWO OF THE KOBY CLEMENS CATCHING EXPERIENCE GO?

After two and a half unspectacular seasons as a third baseman in the Astros organization, Koby Clemens made the switch to catcher, spending 2008 behind the plate at Salem. He posted decent offensive numbers for a catcher, .268, with seven home runs and 52 RBI in a little under 400 at bats. Behind the plate was another matter for Koby. He caught 76 games, had eight errors, and 31 passed balls. He went early to camp last spring for extra catching practice. Also, I think he was at the club's instructional league camp this fall for the same purpose. It would definitely be an asset for the organization if Clemens' hard work pays off and he becomes a solid big league catcher.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Nine Questions for '09- #5

HOW GOOD IS JASON CASTRO?

As a child, my parents and I watched numerous minor league baseball games as part of family vacations. One of the best memories about those trips would occur a few years after the fact when we'd see one of the players again in a major league uniform. This event always led to the comment, "We saw him play in Nashville a few years ago, didn't we?" or something along those lines. For example, I saw Kenny Rogers pitching for Burlington at Waterloo, Iowa, Shawon Dunston playing shortstop for Midland in Little Rock. I also saw Jose Canseco playing for the Southern League all-stars against the Houston Astros in Birmingham. As A minor league fan, there is nothing to compare with the "I saw him when" moment.

I hope we have a chance to have a "I saw him when" moment with Jason Castro in the near future. He started solidly after being drafted in the first round last June out of Stanford. Who knows maybe in 2030, when he is being inducted in Cooperstown, we'll be able to say "We saw him playing in Lancaster or Corpus Christi back in 2009, didn't we?"