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Thursday, June 9, 2011

2011 Farmstros Five- Week Nine

By the end of this month, the Astros will have all eight affiliates playing. Since more than 200 players are ready to spend their summer aiming for Minute Maid Park, Farmstros is glad to announce the return of the Farmstros Five. This feature is a look at the top five performers in the organization each week.

Without any delay here is the Farmstros Five for the week of June 2-8, 2011:

by Chris Buck

Kody Hinze, 23, 1B, Lancaster
Why? -- 8-for-17, 8 R, 2 2B, HR, 4 RBI, 5 BB.

The first baseman is one of the few true power bats in the system. Originally drafted in the 46th round of the 2005 draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates, Hinze never signed with the Bucs. Instead, he played at Angelina College before getting picked up by his hometown Astros after the 2007 season. Lately, Hinze has been hot. Putting up an impressive .563/.689/.813 line in his last ten games; raising his season numbers to .340/.477/.630 at Lancaster.

Chris Wallace, 23, C, Lexington
Why? – 7-for-20, 3 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 4 BB.

The catcher has been a bit of a surprise since being drafted in the 16th round of the 2010 draft out of the University of Houston. He was sent to Greenville after his selection and proved to be ahead of his peers in the Appalachian League, putting up a .310/.390/.520 line. This season he has continued to impress with a .302/.378/.564 line at Lexington.

Xavier Cedeno, 24, LHP, Corpus Christi
Why? -- 2.08 era, 1 GS, 8.2 IP, 5H, 2R, 3BB, 10 SO.

Originally drafted out of Miami Dade CC in the 31st round of the 2004 draft by the Colorado Rockies, Cedeno moved to the Houston organization as a minor-league free agent in 2010. In five minor league seasons with Colorado, Cedeno never posted better than a 4.04 era. His strikeout numbers were good, but the walks were a problem, and he was moved to the bullpen for the 2009 season. Still just 24 years old and having missed all of 2010, Cedeno now has an opportunity for a fresh start with the Astros organization. With his 3.53 era and 60 strikeouts in just 71 and 1/3 innings pitched, he has been more than solid. When combined with cutting down on the walks (28) somewhat. There remains some intrigue in this lefty with five previous minor league seasons already under his belt.

Jay Austin, 20, CF, Lancaster
Why? – 7-for-23, 3 R, 2 2B, HR (Grand Slam), 6 RBI, 3 BB.

The Astros clearly thought a great deal of Austin when they drafted him 56th overall in the 2008 draft. The two guys the club selected before him (Castro and Lyles) have already made their big-league debuts. However, Austin’s career started slowly. He hit just .198 with a .277 on-base % in 2008. Speed is Austin’s best tool, so getting on base and improving plate discipline have been the goal and have been a-work-in-progress. Lately, Austin seems to be putting it together with an impressive .333/.417/.533 line in his last 10 games. In addition to the elite speed, there is a little bit of pop in his bat, and he shows, at-least, doubles power. To date, Austin has put up a solid (think of it as a step in the right direction) line of .267/.344/.394 with a .738 OPS for the 2011 season. At just 20 years of age, he remains one to watch in an Astros system that is somewhat short on high-ceiling prospects.

Jose Altuve, 21, 2B, Corpus Christi
Why? – 9-for-24, 2 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 3 RBI, 1 SB.

Originally signed as a free-agent in 2006: he’s five-foot nothin’, a hundred and nothin’, but the other numbers are hard to ignore. We have all heard. He’s 5’7”, maybe? He’s 170lbs, maybe? He doesn’t project. And, he has limited upside. So they say! But, he is quickly becoming, for us Astros Prospect Junkies (APJs), one of our favorites to read about, watch, and follow. And, if/when he makes it to the big club; he is surely to be a fan favorite. Altuve has been repeatedly described as a ball-player. And, as much as prospects/scouting is about athleticism, tools, and projection; Altuve doesn’t quite measure up. If only he were three inches taller? But, he just keeps playing too well to ignore. He first showed up in the VSL in 2007 putting up a .343/.429/.441 line as a 17 year-old. Last year, he really showed up hitting .308/.364/.445 in Lexington before making the move to Lancaster late in the season. He started this season in Lancaster and proceeded to destroy the California League with a .408/.451/.606 line. Since making the move to Corpus on June 1, he has put up a .429/.448/.679 line in seven games.

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